The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) is warning the media to disregard the health claims gossip websites are attributing to movie star Hilary Swank, who allegedly suffered “mercury poisoning” from eating fish.
To the contrary, the Washington, D.C. based NFI maintains that no peer-reviewed medical journal has ever published any evidence of a case of methylmercury poisoning caused by the normal consumption of commercial seafood in the U.S. Secondarily, despite her vague and erroneous suggestion that eating fish harmed her, even Swank herself is not alleging she had mercury poisoning, so says NFI.
For the film, “Million Dollar Baby,” NFI quoted Swank as saying she, “put on 19 pounds of muscle; I was 29 [years of age], I was a vegetarian and suddenly I was eating so much fish that I got elevated mercury problems.”
Citing reports from the likes of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization that says Americans don’t eat enough fish, NFI officials said mixed messages about seafood consumption have the potential to make them eat even less.
"We already know Americans are not eating enough seafood,” said Jennifer McGuire, NFI’s registered dietitian. "Messages that inappropriately scare consumers away from fish because of mercury can do a real disservice to public health,” she added, noting that when people eat less seafood, “they miss out on a significant disease prevention opportunity.”
NFI is thus urging the media, when reporting on such potentially sensationalized stories, to follow due diligence practices by reviewing and reporting relevant science-based information.