Health Advice



Something fishy about the recently reported fish-melanoma risk

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

It's estimated that there are more than 20,000 species of fish in the oceans and another 18,000 in freshwater. As glorious an array of creatures as that is, we've become acutely aware lately that they're exposed to whatever waste, chemicals and toxins humans are dumping into the waterways.

The impulse to figure out what's risky to eat and what's not is a good one. But a recent study that triggered headlines declaring that eating fish increases the risk of melanoma (skin cancer) by 22% needs to be evaluated more carefully.

The one variable that could not be controlled in the study was sun exposure -- or exposure to tanning beds (in real life, not estimated guesses). And sun exposure/tanning bed exposure is the No. 1 cause of melanoma. Also, did people who eat the most fish also experience the most sunburns? Did they wear sunscreen or not? Were they fair skinned or darker skinned? We don't know.

So can you eat wild-caught salmon and gain all its extraordinary anti-inflammatory, heart-, eye- and brain-loving benefits or not? And what about tuna, which the study singled out as a risky option? Here's my bottom line:

-- Enjoy salmon or ocean trout. Avoid tuna, swordfish, tile fish, mackerel, shellfish and fish from ponds and rivers.

-- Wear micronized zinc oxide sunscreen when outside.


-- Go for a skin check at the dermatologist every two years after age 50 and every year after age 65. If you've been sunburned or overexposed, go every year from age 18 on.


Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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