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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Jerry

Seafood may contain heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, and cadmium. Pregnant mothers who eat a lot of seafood may give birth to children with smaller than normal brains due to the high levels of mercury. Other contaminants found in seafood include xenoestrogens, which have been linked to early-onset puberty in girls, and domoic acid, which may cause a form of short-term amnesia. Seafood may be a potential source of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and alkylphenols, which can interfere with hormonal function. Seafood is also a source of purines, which are linked to higher gout risk

Seafood is a potential source of food poisoning toxins that may not be destroyed by cooking.

Ciguatera is a form of food poisoning that can occur after eating red snapper, grouper, or other fish contaminated with neurotoxins. Ciguatoxins are resistant to cooking, and affected fish look, smell, and taste normal. Also, avoiding specific types of fish is not easy as up to 1/3 of fish sold in the U.S. is mislabeled.  The March 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster resulted in greater radioactive polonium levels in seafood from the Pacific Ocean. 

Researchers have warned that eating seafood sushi, due to parasitic worms that may be in fish, risks possible allergenic reactions and leaky gut syndrome. Reducing or eliminating seafood intake may provide some relief to those with Crohn’s disease. In the U.S., seafood industry work may be linked with higher cancer rates.


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