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Saturday, July 23, 2011

DOES SEAFOOD CAUSE ALZHEIMER'S?

Only this month I've already asked three provocative questions:

 IS THIS THE END OF NASA?  (no)

  IS SALT BAD FOR YOUR BODY?  (yes, but it might not kill you)


  IS THIS GLOBAL WARMING?  (nah)

The question today could well become a shocking revelation, but is just the beginning of the discussion on the matter of eating seafood, or living near bodies of water.  I suspect, when all is said and done, the answer to the question of the day will be that eating seafood should be relatively safe and it is okay to live in Hawaii.  BUT THE LATEST INFO IS STARTLING!

We already know (announced by the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency in 2004) that pregnant women and young children should be careful about eating too much fish because of mercury contamination.  The highest concentration was found in bigeye tuna, popular in sushi restaurants:

If you want more information about the levels in the various types of fish you eat, see the FDA food safety website or the EPA website.

What happens is that certain species tend to retain in their flesh minerals from what they eat.  Those higher on the trophic level, like shark, swordfish and tuna, accumulate the most.  Very few in Japan and around the world were influenced by this information.  I certainly wasn't.

Well, the current issue of DISCOVER magazine suggests that seafood can cause Lou Gherig's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.  The most dangerous might well be those that eat cyanobacteria, for they sometimes (all the time??) contain a neurotoxin, beta-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA).

However, the BMAA biomagnification connection was first determined on land.  Naturally growing at the root of the cycad plant on Guam is this special genus of cyanobacteria, which results in the fruit containing BMAA. Fruit bats feed on them and Guamanians eat fruit bats.  The incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS--Lou Gherig's disease) / parkinsonism-demential is up to a hundred times higher among the Chamorro people of Guam compared to the U.S.

Nearly a quarter century ago there was a New Scientist article on false sago palms being associated with Lou Gherig's disease, but this bit of news faded away.  I recall because one of the early offices of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research had these palms growing close by and I remember saying, doesn't this plant cause dementia?  People generally laughed it off.  See that palm growing above?  Similar versions are grown all over Hawaii.

So recently, Elijah Stommel, a New Hampshire neurologist, had his students run a Google Earth check on where his 200 ALS patients lived.  They clustered around lakes and other bodies of water.

The study has not been made yet if this high incidence is caused by those living close to these waters eating more seafood, swimming in cyanobacteria infested waters or just breathing the air in this environment.  Are lakes worse than oceans?  Early reports indicate that it does not seem to matter.   I HATE TO SPOIL YOUR WEEKEND, BUT THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF WHAT COULD BECOME A MAJOR HEALTH ISSUE.

Anchovies and clams are very low in mercury because they only eat microbes--that is, it is the biomagnification that concentrates methyl mercury--so can be consumed in quantity if mercury was your concern.  The data are being sorted, but, with respect of BMAA, it appears that:

1.  Bottom-feeding seafood (interesting, but there appears to be no synonym for SEAFOOD) contains higher concentrations of this toxin.  Thus, mussels and oysters, plus shrimp and goatfish, are particularly bad.


2.  Zooplankton feed on cyanobacteria (above--with sizes in the range of 0.1 to 5 microns, said to be the most successful group of microbes), apparently biomagnifying the concentration of BMAA.  We don't eat zooplankton (they are too small, 10 to 1000 microns--right), but lower trophic level seafood do?

3.  The brain of certain fish species is especially high in BMAA, while the flesh can have  higher concentrations in others.

4.  Not sure if this is absolutely true, yet, but it also appears that high trophic level pelagic fish should be biomagnifying this neurotoxin.

Thus, tuna and swordfish are now additionally more dangerous to your memory.  Let's see now, I was planning to drop by Tamashiro's and pickup an aji, then to...hmm...forgot the name of that Japanese department store...  Maybe I'll have a steak tonight!

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Super Typhoon Dora is now Tropical Storm Dora and weakening far off the west coast of Baha.

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After 18 holes of golf at the Ala Wai, I did have a steak for dinner while watching a beautiful sunset from my panoramic table on the lanai:

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7 comments:

Guy@NELHA said...

They said the same thing about eating soy products including tofu. If they are both correct, the Japanese should be a dementia stricken country.

Well, a friend just caught a big ahi yesterday and I'm going to enjoy it tonight although I may not remember it later...

PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY said...

Enjoy life now, Guy. Whether it's LGD, AD or PD...and you can guess what they are...you are already doomed. If I were you, I'd move to the Sahara Desert (can you believe it is on the same latitude as Hawaii?) or Nebraska, but away from any lake or pond.

Patty Golden said...

If I had a neurodegenerative disease I would investigate the use of both coconut oil and Medium Chain Triglicerides by some medical professionals to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease, Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). I would NOT wait for the FDA or the medical profession to come to final conclusions regarding their efficacy.

PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY said...

Dear Patty:

Ah, then, you want to go to my posting of Monday, 25July2011, for it announces a gathering of people knowledgeable about this field. You can talk to the experts.

Patty Golden said...

Your posting of Monday, 25July2011 does not seem to be available. I can only find Saturday, 23July2011. I am confused.

PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY said...

Dear Patty:

Go to

http://planetearthandhumanity.blogspot.com

or

http://planetearthandhumanity.blogspot.com/2011/07/does-seafood-cause-alzheimers-part-2.html

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