Michael Nzume, a Medical Doctor at the Ejed Medical Foundation, Kumba , South West Region of Cameroon has warned that, prolonged consumption of smoked fish could lead to hypertension and traces of cancer.
Dr. Nzume issued the warning in an exclusive chat with the National Times at the health facility recently.
The expertise of the medic was sought following thousands of household in the metropolis that rely on smoked fish as a source of protein.
According to him, there has been no established health risk of consuming smoked fish. He explained that the challenge is with the salt used in the process of smoking the fish to preserve it for a long time.
He explained that due to the quantity of salt used to smoke the fish, those who consume it risk developing hypertension. The medic said the health challenge may not develop immediately, but could resurface when such is consumed over a lifespan.
Quizzed on what needs to be done to avoid such risk, Dr. Nzume said those who earn a living through the business of smoked fish should reduce the amount of salt used in its preservation.
To consumers, the medic advised that such fish should be properly soaked in water to reduce the amount of salt in it.
Nzume futher explained that the possibility of such illnesses developing in the future for families who feed consistently on smoked fish is certain.
Rose Itoe, a trader in smoked fish business told the National Times that she was not aware of the health risk of the salt used in preserving the smoked fish. Itoe said she has made a fortune in the said business for over six years.
Itoe said the demand for smoked fish has soared in the last couple of months in Kumba given the scarcity of fresh fish.
Another trader, Martin Akanga, said he has people in his family who have developed hypertension, but cannot tell if it is linked to the prolong consumption of smoked fish.
He admitted being in the business for over a decade.
Most of those involved in the business buy the fish when it is still fresh and then dry it using locally mounted ovens. Environmentalists have equally raised fears over the impact of such practices on the rate of deforestation.
Huge quantity of wood is used in the fish drying process.
Smoked fish is popular among average households in rural and urban Cameroon. Most families, especially those who lack refrigerators buy such fish in huge quantities and store them in containers and subsequently use it for the preparation of food.