Tuesday, May 28, 2024

A High Seafood Diet May Expose You to Dangerous Levels of ‘Forever Chemicals’

Those who consume high amounts of seafood may be exposing themselves to cancer-causing ‘forever chemicals’.

Per- and polyfluoroalky substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals that are used in various consumer products such as nonstick cookware, fire-fighting foam, and water-resistant fabrics. According to a new study, however, seafood may also contain dangerous levels of these toxins.

Researchers at Dartmouth examined different types of seafood brought from various sources for more than 25 types of PFAS.

shrimp on seafloor
Shellfish such as shrimp and lobster have the highest levels of the toxin as they live on the seafloor, close to PFAS sources

Results showed that ‘bottom feeders’ such as lobsters and shrimp contained the highest levels of PFAS.

The co-author of the study, Megan Romano, is urging consumers to weigh the potential risks and benefits before adding seafood to their meals.

She emphasized, however, that they are not recommending individuals to stop eating seafood as it’s a great source of omega fatty acids and lean protein. However, she said it’s crucial for people to understand the risk-benefit trade off when eating such foods, especially for those who are vulnerable such as young children.

PFAS are microscopic substances that don’t break down for thousands of years in the environment, which is why they are often referred to as ‘forever chemicals’. Nowadays, they can be found almost everywhere in the environment including the soil, air, and water supply.

Since they are so abundant, it is difficult for researchers to determine where these chemicals enter fish in the marine food chain.

Over the years, numerous studies have linked these toxic chemicals to numerous cancers, fetal abnormalities, infertility issues, as well as autism.

The Dartmouth Study

For the study, experts tested samples of lobster, haddock, salmon, cod, tuna, scallops, and shrimp. They then surveyed more than 1,800 local residents on the type of seafood they ate and how often.

testing for pfas Results showed that those living in New Hampshire consumed more seafood than the average American.

While researchers did conduct PFAS testing in the survey respondents, a previous study from 2023 found that Asian Americans, who frequently include seafood in their diets, had PFAS levels that were nearly 90 percent higher than those of other ethnicities.

In New Hampshire, 95 percent of those surveyed said they consumed seafood in the past year. Among those, 94 percent ate fish in the previous month.

The most frequently eaten type of seafood was shrimp, followed by haddock, and salmon.

Upon testing, it was revealed that lobster and shrimp had the greatest amounts of PFAS, with the average being as high as 3.3 nanograms per gram of meat. Other seafood generally had levels lower than one nanogram per gram of flesh.

shellfish Researchers believe shellfish such as shrimp and lobster may be at a higher risk of PFAS contamination since they live on the seafood, where they feed.

Larger marine life, such as tuna and salmon, on the other hand, may accumulate PFAS by eating smaller species in the food chain, such as shellfish.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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