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Study: Stroke deaths higher where fried fish aplenty


5 Star


Study: Stroke deaths higher where fried fish aplenty

Our Review Summary

This story could have been botched so easily.  Instead, this story covered the study and sought multiple independent perspectives which provided important analysis of the possible limitations of the research and the questions remaining.


Why This Matters

Association does not equal causation, and this story nailed that point, explaining it clearly for readers.  Nice job.  To others who still don’t understand the difference, see our primer on this topic.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

The story doesn’t discuss the cost of fried fish, but we think this is common knowledge. Not applicable in this case.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The story was about a potentially harmful association, not about benefits of any intervention.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The story was based on an observational study and the story was appropriately cautious about any causal link.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


We love the analysis provided by independent experts:

  • “This is good stuff. It’s a well-done study, but I think one thing to bear in mind is that it’s not specifically a study of stroke risk. You’re looking at a community and seeing how it’s behaving on the whole,” says Daniel Labovitz, a stroke neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

    “This study can’t tell you causation. It can’t tell you there’s a direct link between one thing and another, it just tells you they’re associated,” says stroke neurologist Victor Urrutia, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

    How might eating fried fish impact stroke?

    It could be that frying the fish leaches out the omega-3s, says Jeremy Lanford, stroke director at Scott & White Healthcare in Roundrock, Texas.

    Or the increased fat calorie content from the frying oil may contribute to stroke, says author Nahab. He also notes that fish used for frying, such as cod and haddock, tend to be the types lower in healthy fats.

    More research is needed to tease out whether cooking methods affect stroke risk, Labovitz says.

    “In other words, is fried fish a problem, or is it another red herring?” he says.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease mongering of stroke, and especially not about the concern in the “stroke belt.”

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The independent experts quoted made the story complete.  Terrific analysis of the evidence by the independent experts.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


A helpful sidebar included this information about alternative sources of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish each week for heart health. Types rich in omega-3 fatty acids are best. These are essential fatty acids that humans get through foods, including fish, nuts and some oils such as canola and flaxseed.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


There isn’t any question about the availability of fried fish, especially in the regions in question.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story explained that this study is “part of a large government-funded study, Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS).”

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


It’s clear that the story didn’t rely on a news release.

Total Score: 7 of 7 Satisfactory


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