Shark Meat Contain Harmful Neurotoxins

News ID: 1172435 Service: Science
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TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Scientists found high concentrations of toxins linked to neurodegenerative diseases in the fins and muscles of sharks, suggesting that restricting consumption of sharks can have positive health benefits for consumers and for shark conservation.

In a new study, University of Miami (UM) scientists collected fins and muscle tissue samples from 10 shark species found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for concentrations of two toxins -- mercury and β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA).

"Recent studies have linked BMAA to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)," said Deborah Mash, Professor of Neurology and senior author of the study.

Researchers detected concentrations of 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.

"Since sharks are predators, living higher up in the food web, their tissues tend to accumulate and concentrate toxins, which may not only pose a threat to shark health, but also put human consumers of shark parts at a health risk," said the study's lead author Neil Hammerschlag.

Shark products including shark fins, cartilage and meat are widely consumed in Asia and globally in Asian communities, as a delicacy and as a source of traditional Chinese medicine. In addition, dietary supplements containing shark cartilage are consumed globally.

Recently scientists have found BMAA in shark fins and shark cartilage supplements. The neurotoxic methyl mercury has been known to bioaccumulate in sharks over their long lifespans.

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