PCRM: Anything But Responsible on Fish and Heart Health

You would think a group that calls itself the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) would be an outfit that focuses on public health and even perhaps responsible communications about it… but sadly that’s not the case.

PCRM is a group that promotes a vegan diet and campaigns against animal testing. There is nothing wrong with promoting veggies or being compationate, but there is something wrong with parading around as an independent public health advocate while distorting science in order to trick people in to changing their diets in ways that might actually harm them.

The group is currently out promoting a study from the Netherlands that “[does] not support a major role for fish intake in the prevention of heart failure.” With this individual study, PCRM is suggesting that “eating fish does not protect against heart attacks.” This is an absolute distortion.

PCRM has not only cherry picked this study from a large and compelling body of literature on fish and heart health, but it has cherry picked certain portions of the study as part of its warped presentation. For starters, the study did not find a link between eating fish and prevention of, very specifically, heart failure. Nowhere does it suggest a fish rich diet does not have positive impact on the prevention of heart attacks or cardiovascular disease in general.

PCRM also ignores the fact that the results stand in stark contrast to a recent Swedish study published in the European Heart Journal that found eating fish does lower your risk of heart failure by 33 percent.

While more research is needed to clarify the role if fish in prevention of heart failure, “scientists and health authorities are increasingly persuaded that the intake of fish – even in small amounts – will protect against the risk of fatal myocardial infarction,” said Dr. Marianne Geleinjse an investigator from the Dutch study.

An exhaustive review of the science from Harvard Medical School done in 2006 found eating fish reduces risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent.

What’s more, you would think with PCRM’s interest in preventing and reversing diabetes, they might have picked up on the fact that the Dutch study did find a “protective effect against heart failure in specific subgroups like diabetics.”

So, instead of desperately grasping for straws to discount seafood as part of a healthful diet, physicians who are actually responsible might consider basing recommendations about what to eat on the wide body of nutrition science, not the one part of one study that appears to suit their animal rights agenda.