Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mercury and Blood Pressure?

There are a few topics that I became attached to during grad school. They recur in the blog so you may already have a guess as to some of them. They include tanning, mercury (from coal) and fish, Gardasil, colon cancer and the environment. So when I see research on these subjects I usually take a look.

I read about a link between mercury and blood pressure in Medscape today. The research article is actually published in the journal, Hypertension. I have been concerned about mercury ingestion by way of fish and how it would impact someones neurological function, as mercury is a neurotoxin.

Mercury or environmental mercury, gets in our food chain when it is emitted from coal fired power plants, leached from coal ash and also from the degrading of products that contain mercury (like some light bulbs, batteries, medical supplies). Bacteria and algae transform inorganic mercury into this methyl mercury.

From my past posts and my linked presentation on mercury and fish, you may be aware of the concern for the amount of mercury in certain types of marine life. We are cautioned to avoid the bigger fish, the predator fish, such as swordfish, shark, tuna (not light canned), tilefish, marlin and more.

We also hear that eating fish can be good for us, especially fish high in omega 3s. The fish listed above are not necessarily high in the good stuff, but are certainly high in the bad.

I learned two things I had not expected in the article today. One is that in the study subjects, there was a significant increase (it was small, but the difference was statistically significant as to support a cause and effect relationship) in systolic or top blood pressure number with regard to amount of mercury in the blood. Scientists believe that the mercury leads to inflammation and inflammation is a marker of heart disease.

The scientists also took other anthropometric measures (measures of the human body, like weight, blood pressure, pulse, etc). They found that of all the weight measures - BMI , waist circumference and WHR - explained in previous posts- a persons waist circumference was most accurate in identifying who would have high blood pressure.

So do eat fish, but watch which kind and don't deep fry it!

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