Benefits of Eating Fish Trumps Risks, Studies Say

Oct. 18, 2006

-- EATING FISH -- BENEFITS OUTWEIGH RISKS Two new studies this week recommend that Americans continue to keep fish as part of a healthy diet because the benefits of eating fist outweigh the health risks. The Institute of Medicine reviewed the recent literature on fish and health, and it concluded that healthy adults can safely consume up to 12 ounces of fish a week. Fish provides a source of lean protein and good omega-3 fatty acids. In a second study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health drew similar conclusions about the benefits of eating fish. They estimated that eating one to two servings of fish a week could reduce the risk of heart attack by about a third. The Institute of Medicine report goes softer on the heart benefits of eating fish, saying there "may be" some reduction in heart attack risk. It also said that it is not clear whether it is eating the fish that reduces the risk of heart attacks or whether it's what fish lovers are not eating -- fatty meats like steak and hamburger -- that's important.

INTERNET ADDICTION A recent telephone survey of more than 2,500 adults found that as many as one in eight respondents had at least one symptom of Internet addiction. Since there is no such formal diagnosis, the survey's authors improvised questions from other addiction surveys. Nearly 14 percent of people said they found it hard to stay away from the Internet for several days at a time, which might be considered a milder symptom of addiction. Far fewer, less than 6 percent, said they felt their relationships suffered as a result of Internet usage, which would be a more serious symptom. These findings were published in the journal CNS Spectrums: The International Journal of Neuropsychiatric Medicine by researchers from Stanford University.

BRIGHTEN YOUR SMILE WITH NO WORRIES Tooth-whitening products -- not including toothpastes -- have been shown to work effectively and only have minor side effects, such as mild to moderate tooth sensitivity and gum irritation, according to a recent review of 25 studies published in the Cochrane Library. The effectiveness of these products was measured over the course of a few weeks, which is the recommended time for these products to take effect. The studies included different types of tooth-whitening products, including gels, whitening strips and paint-on films. All of them were effective at brightening teeth, although products with lower levels of active ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide took longer to work. University of Michigan researchers said the effect of using these products over a long period time was still not known.

ALLERGY DRUGS NOT FOR KIDS WITH EAR INFECTIONS A new review of studies in the Cochrane Library found that children with chronic ear infections do not benefit from taking antihistamines or decongestants, and are actually more likely to be harmed by taking them because of their side effects. The pooled review examined 15 studies involving more than 1,500 kids and found that antihistamines and decongestants did not help children's ear infections get better faster. But 17 percent of the children taking the drugs experienced side effects, suggesting these medications do more harm than good.

STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.