State weighs changes in fish-eating guidelines


POSTED: Wednesday, April 22, 2009

QUESTION: The state Department of Health publishes a “;Local Guide to Eating Fish Safely — For Pregnant Women, Nursing Mothers & Young Children.”; Recent research on fish with mercury shows that the selenium content in fish negates any potential harm from mercury poisoning as originally believed. Not only that, by discouraging the public from eating fish, pregnant women could be depriving their child of selenium, a vital element in the neurological development of the unborn child and cognitive development of the newborn as well.

Given that the federal Food and Drug Administration is revising its fish consumption guidelines to comply with the most recent research, when will the state Health Department be revising its guidelines?

ANSWER: The state Department of Health “;is following the emerging science on the health benefits”; of eating fish versus the risk of eating fish with high levels of mercury or other contaminants, said Lynn Nakasone, program manager for the Food and Drug Branch.

Nakasone said she consulted with the department's Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office regarding the issue.

“;As a precaution, (the Health Department) advises pregnant women and young children to continue to eat fish, but (to) choose fish with lower levels of mercury to help protect the developing nervous system,”; she said.

The department plans to revise its guidelines as new information becomes available.

Nakasone provided a Web link to the latest FDA study on mercury in fish: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/ mehg109.html.

Through its risk-based analysis, the FDA feels the benefits of eating fish outweighs the risks from mercury consumption, Nakasone said.

However, the FDA's findings, released in January, are still part of a draft report, she pointed out. Comments were being solicited from all interested individuals and groups until this past Tuesday.

Fraud Against Seniors

“;Kokua Line”; receives a lot of questions about fraud, especially against seniors.

Here's a chance for seniors and their families to find out how to protect themselves from fraud:

The state Executive Office on Aging and Senior Medicare Patrol Hawai'i, in collaboration with the city Elderly Affairs Division, is sponsoring an anti-fraud conference from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Hawai'i Convention Center.

The “;Protect, Detect, Report”; conference also will give information on detecting different types of fraud, as well as advice on how to report fraud.

The exploitation of seniors in fraudulent health care and financial schemes will be the focus of the conference. The cost is $10 for those 60 years and older, and $30 for others. Walk-ins will be accepted until 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

For information on registration, contact the state Executive Office on Aging (586-0100); city Elderly Affairs Division (Senior Helpline: 768-7700); Senior Centers (for locations call 586-7291 or toll-free (800) 296-9422); community parks (for locations call 768-7700); or go online and visit the Web sites hawaii.gov/health/eoa and www.elderlyaffairs.com.


Write to “;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).