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Nerves of Mercury

Studies of the neurobehavioral toxicity of mercury on children suggest that no level of mercury exposure can be considered safe, but pressure from the fish industry may be preventing safety limits from dropping further.

May 29, 2012 |
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Acknowledgements

Images thanks to mj_hughes

Transcript

No mercury level may be truly safe. These review on the adverse effects of mercuty in fish, suggested that even slightly increased environmental expo- sure to methylmercury from fish, could lead to adverse effects on nervous system develop-ment, just like lead exposure. No lead is the only good lead, and the same with mercury.
 They point to this famous study published in the Journal of Pediatrics a few years ago showing delayed brainstem auditory evoked potential latencies in teens exposed to methylmercury as an objective measure of neurobehavioral toxicity in 14-year-old children with developmental exposure to methylmercury from fish. It’s a measure of how well the nerves in your brain communicate. You take kids and stick electrodes onto the scalp and headphones on their ears and play a quick sound and then just measure how long it takes for that sound to transmitted from the nerves in their ear to the auditory cortex in their brain. The longer the delay the slower your nerve impulses are travelling.
 And so here’s the graph. You’ll notice two things. The more mercury the kids had in their bodies the longer the delay. That’s bad. Also, you’ll notice it’s basically a straight line It doesn’t plateau out at the bottom end, the lower the mercury the better.
Where do the official safety limits fit on this graph. In 1978 the World Health Organization started to realize how dangerous mercury was so they said no greater than this level is safe. We didn't know any better. Decades later the quote unquote safe upper limit was moved down to here. Our government said no way, our children are much too precious for that and put placed our upper limit here in 2001. As you can plainly see from this 2004 data, though, if you push levels lower, get people to eat less fish, you get even less brain damage, yet as of 2012, the safety limit remains, there.
 As one former EPA toxicologist told the Wall Street Journal, "They really consider the fish industry to be their clients, rather than the U.S. public."

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena Mylchreest

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

This is the second of a three-part series on the latest on the risks of mercury in fish. See yesterday's NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day Hair Testing for Mercury Before Consider Pregnancy for part one. There are a bunch of other videos on mercury contamination of fish and the consequences, for example The Effect of Canned Tuna on Future Wages. There are also 27 other videos addressing undue corporate influence on our food supply. One can also be exposed to lead though meat (Cannibalistic Feed Biomagnification) and dietary supplements (Some Ayurvedic Medicine Worse Than Lead Paint Exposure). Protein powders too--I have a video coming up on that in a week or two--stay tuned! In the meanwhile, check out any of the hundreds of videos on more than a thousand topics.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Mercury Testing Recommended Before PregnancyLead Poisoning Risk From Venison, Protecting Our Babies From Pollutants, and Schoolchildren Should Drink More Water 

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    This is the second of a three-part series on the latest on the risks of mercury in fish. See yesterday’s NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day Hair Testing for Mercury Before Consider Pregnancy for part one. There are a bunch of other videos on mercury contamination of fish and the consequences, for example The Effect of Canned Tuna on Future Wages. There are also 27 other videos addressing undue corporate influence on our food supply. One can also be exposed to lead though meat (Cannibalistic Feed Biomagnification) and dietary supplements (Some Ayurvedic Medicine Worse Than Lead Paint Exposure). Protein powders too–I have a video coming up on that in a week or two–stay tuned! In the meanwhile, check out any of the hundreds of videos on more than a thousand topics.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      No surprise with regards to the FDA-it’s status quo for them (Unfortunate for us).
      And ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) still recommends, “you can safetly eat up to 12 ounces (about 2 meals) of these fish per week while you are pregnant.”  The fish are Salmon, Pollock, shrimp, canned light tuna (have you ever smelled the light tuna?). http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq001.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120529T0858297697
      But they also say if you are vegetarian you better make sure you have enough protein in your diet.  Sounds like they should stick to delivering babies and leave the nutrition to the experts.  Hmmm, maybe NutritionFacts.org.

      Now we know about Mercury but what about Cesium: http://news.yahoo.com/radioactive-bluefin-tuna-crossed-pacific-us-190121826.html
      Just read this story today.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    I was watching this video and out of the corner of my eye I saw a link for Bragg’s liquid Aminos.  I clicked on it and it took me to a blank page, and then I searched for it and it showed Nothing Found.
    So is it a Bad link or Future Vid? 
    I use this stuff for stir-fry.  Now I’m concerned that it’s got heavy metals in it or something worse.  Inquiring minds want to know :-()

    • Michael Greger M.D.

       Thanks for noting the broken link! I so appreciate all your help making this website as useful as possible and you’ve done it again! I think it was the trademark signal that was screwing up the tag. Regardless, it’s now fixed: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/braggs-liquid-aminos/

      • HemoDynamic, M.D.

        No problem!  We’re all in this together to get the word out.
        About the Braggs, however, your video states that Braggs has MSG.  My bottle in my office that I am looking at right now says only soybeans and their website only indicates soybeans as an ingredient.  Are they on the up and up?  Or is the Braggs Liquid Aminos you are referring to an older brand.

        • HemoDynamic, M.D.

          I think I get it, you mean Naturally occuring Glutamate, not added MSG.

      • HemoDynamic, M.D.

        I’m not Braggin’ but here’s a Pic of my office bottle of Liquid Amino’s

  • Harel

    So many mercury worries for fillings isn’t to be dismissed so easily either.

    And, sorry OT but this: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/african-monkey-meat-that-could-be-behind-the-next-hiv-7786152.html

    “African monkey meat that could be behind the next HIV

    Deep in Cameroon’s rainforests, poachers are killing primates for
    food. Evan Williams reports from Yokadouma on a practice that could
    create a pandemic”