Toxins in Shark Meat Increase Risk for Alzheimer ’s Disease

Sharks are a tasty treat but toxins in their meat and fins can affect your brain, warns a new study.

 Hunting this fish for its meat dates back to many centuries. China was the first country to cook and eat shark meat, fins and its cartilage. Shark fin soup is the most popular delicacy of the Chinese.

Shark Meat

As people from various parts of the world started enjoying this dish, the demand for shark meat grew, making it the most expensive seafood product. Since sharks are heavy and big, Chinese found a way to just cut its fins and leave the rest of the fish back in the ocean. This practice is termed as Finning. Loss of fins leads to its death.

In the recent years, sharks are in the tip of extinction due to its extensive hunting. Many wildlife organizations have raised their voice against Finning and conservation of the large fish.

Not only extinction, toxins in the sharks have reduced its hunting in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Several studies have showed that shark meat, fins and cartilage contain high amounts of toxins as they sail high up in the food web.

A new study by researchers at the University of Miami found that sharks contain lot of neurotoxins in their body which when consumed can increase the risk of several neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

The most common neurotoxins found in the shark meat and fins were mercury and β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA). Both these toxins pose health risks to humans and combined effect of both can have synergistic toxic effects.

When mercury enters the aquatic system, it coverts itself into a more dangerous form called as methylmercury. It is a neurotoxin and causes detrimental effects in humans. Most of the mercury consumed by fish is methylmercury and dietary intake is the dominant source of exposure to methylmercury.


Harmful Effects of Shark Meat

  • Methylmercury levels in shark can lead to blindness, loss of balance and even death.
  • Shark meat can damage nervous system.
  • Pregnant women and children should not eat shark meat, fins or cartilage as it can lead to mental disabilities in babies.
  • Shark meat has distinctive ammonia-smell that can trigger nausea and vomiting sensation.
  • Methylmercury can lower sperm count and lead to infertility in men.
  • Frequent ingestion of sharks containing toxins can increase risk of acute myocardial infarction.

Researchers warned that people should restrict their consumption of shark meat as it can lead to neurodegenerative diseases and other potential health risks.

Author: Don James

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