Filed Under: Food Scares Seafood

Mercury, Schmercury. Eat Your Fish.

A new study published in the Lancet, an international medical journal, decisively demonstrates that there is nothing to fear from trace amounts of mercury in fish. In February, the California Attorney General sued five supermarkets for failure to warn customers — especially pregnant women — about the dangers of mercury for their babies. Last month he followed up with another suit against restaurants. Both lawsuits were driven by activist fear-mongers like the Sea Turtle Restoration Network, the Zero Mercury Campaign, and the Mercury Policy Project, none of whom have commented on the Lancet’s findings.

The Lancet study intensively studied women and their children in the Seychelles islands, where they eat fish with the same levels of mercury as the fish consumed in the United States. Actually, they eat about ten times as much fish as the typical American. These women consumed fish an average of 12 times a week, and, probably as a result, had about six times as much mercury in their bodies as the typical American. Nevertheless, lead author Gary Myers says, “We’ve found no evidence that the low levels of mercury in seafood are harmful.”

“But not for lack of trying,” one news report points out. “Myers and colleagues have been looking for such an association for the last 30 years.” The same group of scientists:

…put together the first precise data showing that pre-natal exposure to mercury could harm a developing child. Their study of the victims of an accidental mercury poisoning event in Iraq more than 30 years ago spurred them to start the Seychelles study to try to pinpoint the levels at which mercury poses a danger.

Unfortunately for the study’s authors, they were unable to pinpoint the exact level at which mercury poses a danger. Fortunately for fish eaters, the study does provide conclusive evidence that eating fish is perfectly safe – and an unrelated study suggests that pregnant women should eat fish to help avert depression. Lawsuits and activists implying otherwise should be tossed out to sea.

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