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October 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 42, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Consuming Sharks May Drive You Crazy?

from the October, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A new study by scientists at the University of Miami has found high concentrations of toxins linked to neurodegenerative diseases in the fins and muscles of ten species of shark, suggesting that restricting the consumption of sharks can have positive health benefits for humans as well as for sharks.

Fin and muscle tissue samples were discovered to have concentrations of two toxins, mercury and B-N-methylamino-L-alanine (or BMAA). The author of the study, Deborah Mash, professor of Neurology, said, "Recent studies have linked BMAA with diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease)."

That's not good. Researchers at the University of Miami detected mercury and BMAA in the fins and muscles of all shark species at levels that may pose a threat to human health. While both mercury and BMAA by themselves pose a health risk, together they may also have 'synergistic toxic impacts,' that is to say, it's worse. Sharks live high up in the food chain, and their tissues tend to collect and concentrate toxins.

Shark products including fins, cartilage, and meat, are widely consumed in Asia and within Asian communities. Dietary supplements containing shark cartilage are consumed world-wide.

Mash says, "Our results suggest that humans who consume shark parts may be at risk for developing neurological diseases."

If that doesn't decrease the demand for shark fins, nothing will!

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