New National Study Highlights Mercury Levels in American Women

September 30, 2008
Category: Uncategorized

More and more evidence being published in conventional medical journals show a correlation between heavy metals and heart disease. Lead is linked to high blood pressure; mercury is linked to the incidence of heart attacks.

John Hopkins University found mercury in every umbilical cord blood sample it studied, pointing to the widespread body burden of mercury among Americans. Now, a new study led by the U.S. EPA looks at mercury levels in women of childbearing age. According to the Environmental Health News, one in ten women nationwide exceeded the mercury concentration levels that risk fetal health. The mercury data was collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of a national program to determine Americans’ body burden of certain chemicals.
The study found that women in the northeast are contaminated with the highest concentrations of mercury in the U.S., followed by women living on the Pacific coast. According to the study’s researchers, women living near coastal areas had three to four times greater risk of exceeding acceptable levels of mercury than do women who live inland.
Because the body tends to store heavy metals in its tissues, integrative physicians screen their patients for heavy metals using analysis of nails or hair, urine screening, or load testing. Yet medical licensing boards often target physicians for these practices. In FL Board of Medicine v. Dan Roehm, M.D., a court in Florida decided that hair mineral analysis was a valid screening tool. However, books like Diagnosis Mercury: Money, Politics, and Poison by Jane Hightower, M.D., document the incidence of mercury poisoning and show that many physicians are unaware of the risks. The AAHF website lists physicians who continue to raise the standard of care by screening their patients for heavy metals when indicated.
There has been an ongoing debate between the EPA and FDA regarding mercury warnings and fish consumption. While fish consumption is beneficial because of its fatty acid content and protein levels, mercury has been linked not only to cardiovascular disease but to harming the developing brains of the unborn as well. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in fish, especially large-mouthed fish like tuna. When babies are exposed to mercury in the womb, their brains may not develop normally, which can impair their learning ability and reduce their I.Q. Tests of canned tuna have revealed mercury levels that are alarmingly high. The California Medical Association has passed a resolution that the government should be more proactive when it comes to mercury in fish.
A media campaign has perpetrated the myth that dietary supplements are unregulated. But physicians who use fish oil preventively and therapeutically in their clinical practice seek out companies that ensure their fish oil supplements are free from contaminants such as mercury. In earlier decades, mothers routinely gave cod liver oil to their children; today, however, U.S. women have the lowest levels of beneficial fats, including DHA, of all industrialized countries. Low or imbalanced levels of fatty acids are now linked to autoimmune disorders, mood and behavioral disorders, and heart disease, among other health concerns. The New York Times recently explained why some doctors are “recommending an age-old remedy to treat ADHD.”

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