Shark Meat Consumption Linked To Development of Neurodegenerative Diseases Like Alzheimer's and ALS

First Posted: Sep 03, 2016 06:44 AM EDT

Do you love eating exotic delicacies made of shark meat? Well, better think twice the next time you order in your fancy Asian restaurant and consider the fact that you are increasing your risk of Alzheimer's disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Neurologists from the University of Miami discovered high concentrations of neurotoxins in shark flesh that are directly linked to neurodegenerative diseases like the Alzheimer's disease and Ice Bucket challenge's ALS. As reported in India Times, fins and muscle tissue samples collected from 10 shark species, usually hunted for their meat, were positive in containing high amounts of mercury and beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA). University of Miami neurologist Deborah Mash explained that the said neurotoxin and mercury in shark flesh posts negative effects not only to neurological health but also in the overall health of an individual because these are toxins that could cause "synergistic toxic" impact.

The study's lead author Neil Hammerschlag from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science explained that, "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."

"People should be aware and consider restricting consumption of shark parts. Limiting the consumption of shark parts will have positive health benefits for consumers and positive conservation outcomes for sharks, many of which are threatened with extinction due in part to the growing high demand for shark fin soup and, to a lesser extent, for shark meat and cartilage products." Hammerschlag added.

According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), shark consumption is greatly attributed to Asian countries particularly East Asian countries like China and Japan. Aside from food, sharks are also used in an array of shark products like in traditional medicines, leather, and dietary supplements. Several animal rights activists and nonprofit organizations were already criticizing the hunt for sharks especially most of the species are categorized as endangered species.

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