Higher Mercury Levels Linked to Increased Diabetes Risk

A recent study conducted by the Indiana University School of Public Health at Bloomington has found that young adults who ingest high levels of mercury are 65 percent more likely to get type 2 diabetes later on in life. The university's epidemiologist Ka He lead the study and concluded that eating shellfish and other high mercury level fish will expose people to the most mercury of all food available. So before you look to fish as the nutritional go-to food at the supermarket, think twice. You might have thought that sugar was going lead you down the dark and dreary road to type 2 diabetes, but fish and the mercury in it could be the culprit instead.

The standard causes of type 2 diabetes clash in a very interesting way with what the new study suggests causes the onset of type 2 diabetes in older age. Standard Type 2 diabetes risk factors include:

  • high blood pressure
  • a high-fat and carbohydrate diet
  • high alcohol intake
  • high sugar intake
  • lack of exercise
  • obesity

Type 2 diabetes has also been linked to genetics. Indirectly, type 2 diabetes has been linked to those who do not exercise and those who don't eat well. In fact, many studies link these factors to groups of individuals who are typically in a lower socioeconomic bracket as well.

The Indiana study showed that the typical causes of type 2 diabetes have to be reconsidered, or at least they need to be added to. Around 4,000 people participated in the research. The study confirmed that the consumption of magnesium and omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acid affects men and women. The study shows conclusions that seem far from the logic of our modern-day culture. The more fit the lifestyle of the participant and the lower the body mass index, the more at-risk the participant is to get type-2 diabetes at a later age. The study shows that typical stereotypes suggesting that lower socioeconomic groups are more at-risk for type 2 diabetes are questionable or at least certainly not exclusive.

Before you swear off all fish, the study emphasizes the importance of doing research to find out what contaminants are in the fish. Ka He explains, "It is likely that the overall health impact of fish consumption may reflect the interactions of nutrients and contaminants in fish. Thus, studying any of these nutrients and contaminants such as mercury should consider confounding from other components in the fish." It is still safe to eat shrimp, salmon and catfish. But it is important to avoid swordfish and shark, and other fish with high levels of mercury.

The study shows that the FDA's advice to pregnant women to avoid mercury is advice that could do the entire population some good. Make sure that you do your research on the fish that contain high mercury counts and make sure that when you're trying to be healthy, you're not getting the wrong end of the stick.

The Author:

Tracy Rentz blogs on health sites that focus on health issues dangerous to the public. If you would like to work in this area of health check out the MPH online degree programs offered by several schools.

Photo Credit: markuso / Freedigitalphotos.net

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