On Your Mind... Krill Oil, Pellet Grills, and No-Good Cancer Advice

After our issue on the dangers of fish-oil supplements, we got dozens of variations on the same question. Here's just one...

Wondering what your opinion of krill oil is compared with fish oil as a supplement. I've been taking 100% krill oil capsules for a few years now. Krill are lower in the food chain so theoretically don't have as many toxins in them. – B.B.

Thanks for writing in, B.B., as well as all the other subscribers who asked if krill oil is an alternative to fish oil...

The problem is that a lot of contaminants wind up in waterways and oceans... then fish and shellfish. It collects in their fatty acids in particular.

We don't like fish-oil supplements because they "super concentrate" those fatty acids. So trace amounts of toxins that you might get in a single whole fish grow much higher.

The same is true for krill, small oceanic crustaceans. An Australian study published in the journal Nutrients was the first to evaluate the toxicological properties of krill oil. Researchers found that krill-oil pills contained "intermediate levels" of toxic contaminants... In other words, they won't kill you, but you're still paying too much for pills filled with toxins.

There are a handful of small, short-term studies that suggest krill oil is better absorbed by your body, but there simply aren't enough large, human trials to assure us that krill oil is worthwhile.

I hate taking pills when I can get the same nutrients from whole, fresh foods. Forget the pills and go have a nice fish dinner once or twice a week. You'll get all the benefits with fewer toxins.

Let's answer some other questions we got this week...

Q: Have you tried or looked into pellet grills? I have a Traeger and I love the way it cooks meats and vegetables with low (180 to 450 degrees) temp smoke from various wood pellets; oak, hickory, mesquite, pecan, cherry, maple, alder, and apple. Drip tray prevents grease/juices from getting to direct flames. I would be interested in getting your take on the 'health impacts' of such a cooking method. Thanks for all your wisdom and advice. – K.R.

A: As I explained in my essay "War on Bacon," grilling meat leads to the formation of two known carcinogens – heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

PAHs form from smoke. And yes, if the fat from the meat doesn't drip into the fire (because of a drip tray), less smoke would form. However, even burned-up residue from the pellets can contain PAHs.

Pellet stoves aren't free from HCAs. These simply form from high-heat cooking. Even stovetop cooking can create HCAs.

Unfortunately, there isn't any solid research on how much pellet stoves reduce carcinogens. Cutting back on the fat drippings is definitely a benefit, but I still recommend my other ways to prevent these nasty molecules from forming... like marinating your meat, cutting the fat, not overcooking, and eating a salad and vitamin C with your meal.

Q: Doc, I too love blueberries. Without a doubt, they are my favorite! I have sigmoid carcinoma and was told that I should stop eating fruit to cut down on the sugar that cancer thrives on. I was told to replace all the fruit I eat with vegetables. Is this sound advice and do the cancer-fighting properties of the blueberries outweigh the harmful effects of the natural sugar consumed? – J.D.

A: Ask your doctor to show you the science.

If I were in your shoes, I'd be eating tons of fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Rosemary, for example, contains carnosol, which has stopped breast- and skin-cancer cells in animals.

The list of cancer-killing chemicals in fruit goes on and on: Grapefruit has monoterpenes, grapes have resveratrol, citrus fruits have limonene (and vitamin C), berries have anthocyanins. You tell me if it makes sense that these chemicals have killed or stopped cancer cells in scientific studies but won't work in humans.

In fact, it's nonsense like your doctor's advice that drove me from medicine.

When you consider how many different kinds of sugars there are, his comment becomes even more comical (if it weren't so serious). There are monosaccharides, disaccharides, trisaccharides, and even oligosaccharides. There's fructose, glucose, galactose, mannose, sucrose, lactose, and maltose. A hundred bucks says your doctor doesn't even know which sugars are in fruit!

(The answer is that most of them have three sugars and a few have four.)

What health or wealth nonsense have you read lately? Tell us about it by writing us at [email protected].

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