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A study in which a UMU professor participates shows that Spaniards are the Europeans who have more mercury in their organism due to fish consumption (12/07/2019)

The inhabitants of the Mediterranean communities have the highest rates of this dangerous metal in their organism

The high consumption of fish, especially large fish, directly affects the presence of mercury in the body of humans.

This statement on which studies have been conducted in recent years has just been refuted by a research that has the largest sample of blood, urine and hair analysis ever used for a study of this type and in which the professor has participated of Toxicology of the University of Murcia Miguel Motas.

This work of human biomonitoring is framed in the context of a macro-study that is being carried out at European level to study the presence of different toxins in the organism of the Europeans and shows that Spain presents higher levels of mercury recommendable, for above the rest of the EU states, followed by France, Italy or Greece.

This research also establishes that the inhabitants of Murcia, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Andalusia and Catalonia have the greatest presence of this toxic metal;

although its position in the hierarchy varies if what is taken into account are the blood, urine or hair analysis.

Also regions like Galicia and the Basque Country show high rates, although below the communities of the Mediterranean strip.

The main conclusion is that these high levels of mercury are directly related to the consumption of fish and shellfish.

"The majority of the population studied is in the reference values ​​established by the World Health Organization, which implies that the presence of mercury in your body does not have direct effects on health, but it does involve very high levels that you have to watch, "explains Professor Motas, who has done this study during his two-year stay as Head of the Toxicology Area of ​​the National Center for Environmental Health, under the Carlos III Health Institute.

The consumption of tuna and swordfish is the one that most affects these high mercury rates in the inhabitants of the Mediterranean areas of Spain.

"It is not that we have to stop eating these fish, but that their consumption is moderated," says Motas, who stresses that pregnant women and children should take the greatest precaution.

The Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN) recommends not taking more than one or two cans of tuna a week for these two population groups at risk.

The rest of the population, simply, should be careful and balance the consumption of these fish with other smaller ones, since they do not present a presence of such large mercury.

Mercury reaches the sea as a consequence of man's action and extends and magnifies through the food chain.

Methylmercury is a fat-soluble neurotoxic that crosses cell membranes and can affect the nervous system of adults.

In the case of fetuses and children, the possibility of having damage due to the excessive presence of this toxic in the diet multiplies.

One of the characteristics of methylmercury is that it is absorbed very quickly, taking a long time to be eliminated.

The study in the population carried out makes it clear that when the consumption of fish exceeds five times per week, analyzes of the presence of mercury reveal that it increases exponentially.

In addition, the older, more presence of this toxic effect of a sustained diet over the years.

By sex, women have a higher rate of mercury in their body.

This study has been carried out with 1,900 blood samples, 1,700 urine samples and 600 hair samples from people residing in Spain, which is the largest sample that a mercury biomonitoring study in Spain has ever had.

Around 5% of people who have participated in it have mercury levels that pose a risk to their health.

The research has taken into account factors such as age, time of year and weekly consumption habits.

The following study in this line will focus on the adolescent population.

Source: Universidad de Murcia

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