I wanted to share an article I read this morning regarding a study of fish consumers living in Brazil. The river where most of the fish is caught has been contaminated with mercury as many of our water ways have these days. Unfortunately, the fish consumers not only had elevated mercury levels in their blood and urine, but also had an elevation in an auto-immune disease marker, ANA, as well as other pro-inflammatory markers. Auto-immune diseases arise from an overactive immune response targeting and destroying the body’s own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis, hashimoto’s thyroiditis, grave’s disease, lupus, psoriasis, diabetes type I, celiac and crohns disease are examples of auto-immune conditions.
Unfortunately, this is not the first study to connect mercury and auto-immune disease. The best ways to avoid mercury exposure is to limit fish consumption all together. Check out the environmental working group for a list of highest and lowest containing mercury in fish, www.ewg.org/safefishlist . Silver fillings (amalgams) are another potential source of mercury but not all mercury vapors release and absorb into the body. If you are currently suffering from an auto-immune disease it may be worthwhile to be tested for mercury exposure. I recommend doing this with a lab that analyzes heavy metals through urine. Most importantly limit your mercury exposure by avoiding fish or at least eating fish mindfully. Several of my patients who have auto-immune disease do have elevated mercury and the good news is that there are ways to remove it from the body.
Nyland et al. Biomarkers of Methyl Mercury Exposure Immunotoxicity among Fish Consumers in Amazonian Brazil.