If you’re among those who love eating exotic foods, including shark meat, you may want to think twice next time. Shark products are widely served in Asian restaurants, but perhaps it’s time to stop consuming meat from sharks because they could increase risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as well as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
According to a study conducted by neurologists from the University of Miami, shark flash is very high in neurotoxins that are known to be directly linked to brain degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and ALS, which most people are aware of due to the famous Ice Bucket challenge.
Some shark species that reside in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans contain two toxins, as reported in the Toxins journal.
Stop Eating Shark Products, Researchers Say
The study listed mercury and cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA as the primary toxins found in shark products, which can affect our mental health. Avoiding consumption of shark meat can be beneficial for our health, while improving conservation of the species. A number of the shark species that were analyzed in the study are already at risk of extinction because of overfishing.
Shark products, as mentioned, are widely consumed in Asia as well as in other Asian communities across the globe. At the moment, shark fin soup is very popular these days as this delicacy is served especially at Asian weddings. Other products include cartilage of the shark, which is actually included in supplements for traditional Chinese medicine. Researchers, however, warned people to stop eating shark parts, such as cartilage, meat, and fins, as these are the parts that contain most of the toxins.
Continuing consumption of shark products can cause a variety of health problems, including the fact that the neurotoxin methyl mercury can accumulate in the bodies of the sharks throughout their life. This can affect people who consume their meat in different ways:
- Mercury from food can go directly to the whole body as it passes through the stomach and the intestines.
- The toxin is poison for our nervous system.
- Mercury is considered most dangerous for pregnant women because it can directly affect the unborn child.
- Even small doses can have a negative effect on the circulatory system and the heart.
- Methyl mercury can also cause cancer according to some studies.
One study headed by Paul Cox showed that people who eat fruit bats in Guam suffered from ALS and dementia. These bats have the same levels of BMAA as with the sharks in Florida. Therefore, the researchers advise people to limit consumption of shark meat and other products to stop development of neurodegenerative diseases.