Less Fish, More Crime?

The Nordic countries have a reputation for lower crime, and for eating a lot of fish. Similarly, the classical British reputation for good manners and “Fish ‘N Chips”. Might this be more than a coincidence?


Penn research points to omega-3 as an intervention for childhood behavioral problems


Public Release: 15-May-2015
University of Pennsylvania

At the forefront of a field known as “neurocriminology,” Adrian Raine of the University of Pennsylvania has long studied the interplay between biology and environment when it comes to antisocial and criminal behavior. With strong physiological evidence that disruption to the emotion-regulating parts of the brain can manifest in violent outbursts, impulsive decision-making and other behavioral traits associated with crime, much of Raine’s research involves looking at biological interventions that can potentially ward off these behavioral outcomes.

A new study by Raine now suggests that omega-3, a fatty acid commonly found in fish oil, may have long-term neurodevelopmental effects that ultimately reduce antisocial and aggressive behavior problems in children.
It was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

When Raine was a graduate student, he, his advisor and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study of children in the small island nation of Mauritius. The researchers tracked the development of children who had participated in an enrichment program as 3-year-olds and also the development of children who had not participated. This enrichment program had additional cognitive stimulation, physical exercise and nutritional enrichment. At 11 years, the participants showed a marked improvement in brain function as measured by EEG, as compared to the non participants. At 23, they showed a 34 percent reduction in criminal behavior.

Raine and his colleagues were interested in teasing apart the mechanisms behind this improvement. Other studies suggested the nutritional component was worth a closer look.

“We saw children who had poor nutritional status at age 3 were more antisocial and aggressive at 8, 11 and 17,” Raine said. “That made us look back at the intervention and see what stood out about the nutritional component. Part of the enrichment was that the children receiving an extra two and a half portions of fish a week.”

Other research at the time was beginning to show that omega-3 is critical to brain development and function.

“Omega-3 regulates neurotransmitters, enhances the life of a neuron and increases dendritic branching, but our bodies do not produce it. We can only get it from the environment,” Raine said.

Omega-3 fatty acids tend to come from the green parts of plants. Omega-6 from grains. (Though flax seed is an exception).

As we have moved from a diet of fish, grass fed beef and lamb, free range chickens and eggs from them and to a diet strongly driven by soybeans, soybean oil, corn, corn oil, and as we have fed those grains in ever larger numbers to our cows, chickens, pigs, and increasingly to farm raised fish, we have dramatically shifted our Omega-3 / Omega-6 fats ratio. From a historic ratio closer to 4 : 1 we are now more in the 20 : 1 area.

Could it be that the reason our society has gotten more rude, had increasing crime rates, and increasing levels of child development problems is related to, or perhaps even due to, that diet shift?

I don’t know, but it sure is suspicious…

Just make sure the fish have a load of hot peppers on them.


Regular consumption of spicy foods linked to lower risk of death

Public Release: 4-Aug-2015

Data suggest most benefit from eating spices regularly throughout the week


This is an observational study so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but the authors call for more research that may “lead to updated dietary recommendations and development of functional foods.”

Previous research has suggested that beneficial effects of spices and their bioactive ingredient, capsaicin, include anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anticancer properties.

So an international team led by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences examined the association between consumption of spicy foods as part of a daily diet and the total risk and causes of death.
During a median follow-up of 7.2 years, there were 20,224 deaths.

Compared with participants who ate spicy foods less than once a week, those who consumed spicy foods 1 or 2 days a week were at a 10% reduced risk of death (hazard ratios for death was 0.90). And those who ate spicy foods 3 to 5 and 6 or 7 days a week were at a 14% reduced risk of death (hazard ratios for death 0.86, and 0.86 respectively).*

In other words, participants who ate spicy foods almost every day had a relative 14% lower risk of death compared to those who consumed spicy foods less than once a week.

The association was similar in both men and women, and was stronger in those who did not consume alcohol.

Frequent consumption of spicy foods was also linked to a lower risk of death from cancer, and ischaemic heart and respiratory system diseases, and this was more evident in women than men.

Fresh and dried chilli peppers were the most commonly used spices in those who reported eating spicy foods weekly, and further analysis showed those who consumed fresh chilli tended to have a lower risk of death from cancer, ischaemic heart disease, and diabetes.

Some of the bioactive ingredients are likely to drive this association, the authors explain, adding that fresh chilli is richer in capsaicin, vitamin C, and other nutrients. But they caution against linking any of these with lowering the risk of death.

And here I thought the “risk of death” was 100%… eventually…

Nice sample size: ” 487,375 participants, aged 30-79 years, from the China ”

But I can’t help but wonder to what extent folks who are ill stop eating spicy foods and how that might jigger the statistics. I know I have to be “up for it” to have Gunpowder Chicken (Kung Pow) and when not feeling well shift to milktoast and plain roast chicken.

But what the heck, go grab some fish and chips and add a load of La Victoria Salsa to it…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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6 Responses to Less Fish, More Crime?

  1. Terry Jay says:

    Interesting coincidence. Rush used to have a thing about people who died had eaten green beans or peas, forget which, within 30 days.. Had about a 95% probability. On the other hand, LaVic is good on a lot of things.

  2. sabretoothed says:

    Iodine/Selenium not Omega 3 :P

  3. Gary says:

    How do you account for fish-boxing?

    And fish-slapping?

  4. PhilJourdan says:

    Couple of observations:

    #1 – While the British have certain reputations, and being “stiff lipped” is one of them, so is rioting at sports events. But then they do love their beef as well.

    #2 – I guess older “cradle Catholics” are the most civilized group in the bunch! Fish every Friday (until Vatican II). Maybe the Church should have kept that tradition if for no other reason than to keep crime low. ;-)

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @Terry Jay:

    OMG! I would bet hard money that almost 100% of them had drunk water in the prior week too! (Either pure, or in concoctions like coffee, tea, or sodas). Clearly we need a water study!!


    Could very well be… we know both of those matter. So fish are doubly or tripply good!


    Might explain some of the downward drift of The Church since Vatican II… When I was a kid, our restaurant had fish on the menu as a ‘special’ every Friday just for the Catholic crowd in town.

    And clearlfy we need a study to see if more fish is sold in the Financial District than at football events… the cure might be at hand! (How well does cod go with too much beer?…)


    Well, I see nothing wrong with dancing with fish… but there is no accounting for fish boxing…


  6. Greg Winkens says:

    Studies show that essential fatty acids from vegetable matter still reduced brain size in lab rats while those who consume animal sourced essential fatty acids flourished.

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