You’re probably already eating the food that’s been linked to an increased risk of ALS: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable fatal disease that affects motor neurons.
April 2017: American Academy of Neurology’s 69th Annual Meeting, Boston
This is where the results of a preliminary study were presented.
This study (Stommel et al) has shown a link between a higher risk of ALS and the consumption of fish and other seafood that have high levels of mercury.
Eating seafood, in and of itself, is not associated with ALS. It’s the mercury that’s the problem.
Mercury is a metal, though at room temperature is not solid in the sense that steel or a block of wood is. The No. 1 way in which Americans ingest mercury is through fish and other seafood.
How the Study Was Done
• 518 subjects were involved.
• 294 had ALS.
• All were asked how much fish they ate and what types, and whether the fish was bought or caught by the subjects or their families.
Seafood high in mercury include shark and swordfish, and low in mercury include salmon and sardines.
• Participants who were in the top 25 percent for estimated yearly ingestion of mercury had double the ALS risk when compared to subjects with lower levels of ingested mercury.
• 61 percent of ALS patients were in the top 25 percent of the estimated mercury ingestion.
• The figure was 44 percent for those who did not have ALS.
• Higher levels of this neurotoxic metal in the toenail clippings of subjects were linked to an increased risk for ALS.
This was a small study, and replications of these results are very much warranted.
The study authors point out that the results do NOT mean to stop eating food from the sea.
However, the message may be to trade the swordfish and shark for the salmon and avoid food that’s caught in waters where mercury levels are known to be high.
Wild-caught fish has less mercury, so opt for wild-caught rather than farm raised.
Currently there are no formal guidelines for avoiding certain foods to lower the risk of getting ALS.