Vegan Health ArticlesFish and Shellfish: Contamination Problems Preclude Inclusion in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans
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From Spring 2004

Mercury and the Heart

Mercury accumulates in the heart, as well as other tissues, and has been associated with increased blood pressure, irregular and increased heart rate, and increased rates of death from cardiovascular disease in at least 12 scientific studies.1

Consumption of fish and omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaneonic acid (DHA) and eicosapentanoic acid, has been associated with decreased risk of heart attack in individuals consuming a western-style diet.7,8 However, two recent studies have shown that mercury exposure may have the opposite effect. In a case-control study conducted in eight European countries and Israel, the relative risk of first myocardial infarction (heart attack) for men in the highest quartile of mercury exposure was 2.16 that of those in the lowest quartile, after adjustment for DHA levels and cardiovascular disease risk factors. When comparing patients to controls, the toenail mercury levels were 15 percent higher among those who had suffered a first heart attack.9 A second study showed increased risk of cardiovascular mortality with increasing methylmercury exposure.10

A recent study of 14-year-old children who had been pre- and postnatally exposed to relatively high levels of methylmercury found the children were less capable of maintaining the normal variability of the heart rate necessary to secure adequate oxygen supply to the tissues (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and sudden death) as level of exposure increased.11 This study provides a possible mechanism for explaining the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in methylmercury-exposed individuals.

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.