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Science, Medical Authorities Dispute Magazine Findings on Tuna.

Consumer Reports Ignores Accepted Science, Takes Radical Departure From the Facts

WASHINGTON, June 6 /PRNewswire/ -- A story in Consumer Reports magazine attacking the health attributes of canned tuna fish ignores decades of serious research by scientists, medical authorities, research organizations and key government agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA recommends that pregnant women, a focus of the Consumer Reports story, can safely consume as much as 12 ounces of canned tuna a week. The agency places no limits on the consumption of canned tuna by other categories of adults.

Yet, the unsigned Consumer Reports story takes a radical departure from widely accepted health standards in its advice to pregnant women and others on tuna consumption. Citing unnamed "experts" and refusing to publicly reveal its research methodologies, the magazine is needlessly confusing the public and potentially frightening people from including this important, low-cost, low- fat protein source in their diets.

Data from the Food and Drug Administration that Consumer Reports purports to base its claims on has been in the public record for some time now and thoroughly vetted by legitimate scientific and medical authorities. None of these government studies reaches the conclusions of Consumer Reports. In fact, the magazine's recommendations directly contravene the findings of the FDA.

Scaring consumers away from this healthy food choice with unfounded science is irresponsible, according to prominent health authorities.

"This story by Consumer Reports makes sweeping and potentially damaging claims, without subjecting its findings to serious scientific review," said Dr. Louis Sullivan, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Canned tuna is an excellent source of protein that has the added benefits of including high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that are recognized as having multiple health attributes. Scaring consumers away from this healthy food choice is irresponsible."

Dr. Sullivan, one of the nation's foremost health authorities, has testified that canned tuna is an excellent source of protein that has the added benefits of possessing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that are recognized as having multiple health attributes.
 Here's what real science has found about canned tuna:

 * A study presented to the American Association for the Advancement of
 Science (AAS) this year revealed that teens whose mothers maintained
 high fish diets during their pregnancy outperformed teens whose mothers
 ate less seafood. Philip W. Davidson, M.D., professor of pediatrics,
 environmental medicine and psychiatry at the University of Rochester
 School of Medicine and Dentistry, presented the findings.

 * A study published in the March 2006 issue of the British Journal of
 Cancer found that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish like tuna are able to
 block the spread of cancerous cells in the prostate gland. This makes it
 possible to confine the cancer to the prostate where treatment with
 surgery or radiotherapy is very effective. The study was conducted by
 scientists at the Paterson Institute at the Christie Hospital in
 Manchester, England.

 * New dietary recommendations for children aged two and older issued by
 the American Heart Association (AHA) and endorsed as official policy by
 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reconfirm that fish, such as
 canned tuna, is a safe food source that children need for optimal health
 during their formative years. Published in the February 7, 2006 issue of
 the journal Pediatrics, the new AHA/AAP guidelines state that "fish is
 an important food with growing evidence of potential benefit" and
 advocate that children and adolescents eat two servings of fish a week.

 * A major study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis confirms that the
 health benefits of consuming seafood far outweigh any risk due to trace
 amounts of mercury in fish. Published in the November 2005 issue of the
 American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the study concludes that for
 women of childbearing age, cognitive benefits can be achieved with
 virtually no negative impact on the developing child if women of
 childbearing age eat two servings a week of fish that are low in

 * The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study concluding
 that if all adults reduced their fish consumption by 17 percent, which
 could be the result of threatening stories like that in Consumer
 Reports, an additional 9,500 would die from vascular disease.

 * Earlier this year the FDA confirmed that canned tuna contains mercury
 levels that are very low and are considerably less than what the federal
 government allows. According to FDA's latest testing data for mercury
 levels in commercially sold fish and shellfish, the average amount of
 mercury in light canned tuna remains at 0.12 parts per million (ppm),
 which is eight times lower than the very conservative 1.00-ppm limit for
 commercial fish set by FDA.

 * FDA's latest data, released jointly with the Environmental Protection
 Agency, also show that the average amount of mercury in canned albacore
 tuna remains at 0.35 ppm, which puts canned albacore tuna in the same
 category as many other commonly eaten fish, such as lobster (0.31 ppm),
 Chilean sea bass (0.38 ppm), and bluefish (0.34 ppm). This finding
 supports the recommendation contained in the government's seafood
 advisory that pregnant and nursing women, women who might become
 pregnant and very young children can safely eat up to 6 ounces a week of
 canned albacore tuna.

The Harvard researchers, joining many public health advocates, noted that if Americans reduce their fish consumption out of confusion about mercury, there will be serious public health consequences, notably higher death rates from heart disease and stroke.

"In an era when heart disease is spiraling and obesity has become an epidemic, CR has done a great disservice in discouraging canned tuna consumption through inaccurate and incomplete facts," said Anne Forristall Luke, President of the U.S. Tuna Foundation.

"We are dealing with serious health issues when it comes to offering advice on food choices," said Secretary Sullivan. "We are not talking about the best refrigerator or blender to buy. These medical issues must meet higher standards of study and review before being unleashed on the public."

Canned and pouched tuna are some of the most widely consumed fish products in the U.S. In fact, Americans eat about one billion pounds of canned and pouched tuna annually. Tuna fish has long been a major source of low-cost, low-fat, healthy protein.

Consumer Reports, affiliated with the Consumers Union advocacy group, has reached radical conclusions that many respected medical, scientific and health authorities have not found in their very thorough studies. This scare-story, which has been widely touted by Consumer Reports in news releases for its shock value, does a disservice to Americans who are looking for scientifically valid and accepted health advice.

CONTACT: Trevor Francis, +1-202-530-4617, or Fred Muir, +1-310-309-6667, both for the U.S. Tuna Foundation

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Date:Jun 6, 2006
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