Scientists track mercury poisoning risk from diets

November 21st, 2011 - 2:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 21 (IANS) Mercury in diets could whittle down the power of antioxidants and cause serious threats to health by accumulating in the body, aver scientists.

Antioxidants, playing a critical role in protecting cells, could also — if they are not functioning properly — damage them or cause their deaths.

This damage, known as oxidative stress, is tied with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes, the journal Environmental Research Letters reports.

As such, antioxidants are widely used in dietary supplements and have been investigated in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to a University of Alaska statement.

University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers analysed groups of 12 huskies, a working dog breed, in four villages each with similar lineage, sex and age and in their peak racing years.

These huskies are exposed to the same environmental hazards as humans, sharing similar responses to ageing, immune function, toxicology and cognitive disorders.

Fairbanks professor Kriya Dunlap, who led the study, said: “The amounts of mercury in the salmon (fish species) are well below Environmental Protection Agency limits and the health benefits compared to processed food are still quite significant.

“However, the fact that health indices may be impaired by mercury levels indicates that monitoring should continue and that mercury generation should be monitored.”

Data taken from the huskies’ diet, comprising flesh and fish, showed that as their mercury exposure increased, their antioxidant status decreased.

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