Toxins Afloat in Shark Fin Soup?03/01/12
THURSDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- Shark fins contain high
levels of a neurotoxin called BMAA, which is linked to
neurodegenerative diseases in humans such as Alzheimer's and Lou
Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), according to a
The findings suggest that people who eat shark fin soup and
shark cartilage pills may be at significant risk for these
diseases, the University of Miami researchers warned.
The scientists tested seven shark species -- blacknose,
blacktip, bonnethead, bull, great hammerhead, lemon and nurse -- in
waters throughout South Florida.
"The concentrations of BMAA in the samples are a cause for concern, not only in shark fin soup, but also in dietary supplements and other forms ingested by humans," study co-author Deborah Mash, director of the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank, said in a university news release.
The new study was published Feb. 21 in the journal
In a study published in 2009, Mash and her colleagues found that
patients dying of Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis had unusually high levels of BMAA in their brains, up to
256 nanograms per milligram (ng/mg). In comparison, healthy people
had only trace amounts or no BMAA in their brains.
The new study found BMAA levels of between 144 and 1,836 ng/mg
in the shark fins.
Many shark species are on the road to extinction because of the
demand for shark fin soup, the authors said. "Because sharks play
important roles in maintaining balance in the oceans, not only is
shark fin soup injurious to the marine environment, but our study
suggests that it is likely harmful to the people who are consuming
them," co-author Neil Hammerschlag, director of the university's
marine conservation program, said in the news release.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
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