Eating fish and seafood with higher levels of mercury may increase risk for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
As part of a study, researchers surveyed 518 people, 294 of whom had ALS. Average mercury levels for each type of fish and frequency of consumption were used to calculate mercury intake. Levels of mercury found in toenail samples from participants with ALS were compared to those from people without ALS.
Preliminary results of the study, published this week by the American Academy of Neurology , show that among participants who ate fish and seafood regularly, those in the top 25 per cent for estimated annual mercury intake were at double the risk for ALS compared to those with lower levels.
The authors stress that the study does not negate the fact that eating fish provides many health benefits. However, they recommend choosing species that are known to have lower mercury content, and avoiding fish caught in waters where mercury contamination is well-recognised.
The research will be presented at the upcoming 69th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology which will take place in Boston from April 22 to 28.