advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
How Dangerous Is Farmed Salmon?

I heard that a new study indicates farmed salmon to have more toxins than we thought. Is this true?

A
Answer (Published 8/1/2006)

A just-released study commissioned by the Pew Foundation measured levels of organic contaminants in 700 fish (about two metric tons), purchased from wholesalers and retailers in large cities in North America and Europe. Whole, raw, farmed salmon, farmed salmon fillets, and whole wild fish (representing five species of Pacific salmon) were tested. Fourteen chemicals were studied, including toxins such as PCBs, dioxins, dieldrin and toxaphene - all fat-soluble compounds that tend to accumulate in the fat of ocean fish.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Your Whole Body - Foods, herbs and drugs can all interact, sometimes in unexpected ways. Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor takes known interactions into account when developing nutritional supplement recommendations, to help safeguard against adverse effects. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor recommendation today.

The general findings are shocking: the expert commission found that the total organic contaminants were consistently and significantly more concentrated in the farmed salmon as a group than in wild salmon. This includes dioxins and PCBs - both believed to increase the risk of certain cancers and to be harmful to the developing brains of fetuses and infants of women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The average dioxin level in farm-raised salmon was 11 times higher than in wild salmon, and the average PCB levels were 36.6 parts per billion (ppb) in farm-raised salmon, versus 4.75 ppb in wild salmon. The study also connected the levels of contaminants to location: farmed salmon from Europe were more contaminated than fish from North or South America. The most contaminated farmed samples came from Scotland and the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic, and the least contaminated farmed samples came from Chile and Washington State in the U.S. However even the least-contaminated farmed salmon still had significantly higher contaminant levels than wild salmon.

The reason for the higher contaminant levels in farmed salmon is due to the feed given to them - a fish meal composed of ground fish and fish oil from only a few species of ocean fish. These species accumulate the toxins in run-offs from agriculture and industry that wind up in oceans. With a limited variety of fish to eat, farmed salmon are exposed to higher concentrations of contaminants than wild salmon, which eat a more varied diet. Researchers say it would be possible to develop oil-rich feed for farmed salmon that was free of toxic contaminants.

Based on this information, the researchers involved in this study recommend limiting consumption of farmed salmon to one-half to one meal total per month. Bottom line: I agree. Until salmon farmers clean up their acts, stick to wild Alaskan salmon (which I still strongly recommend), sardines or distilled fish oil supplements for your omega-3 fatty acids.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

 

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here