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Why shark fin soup may soon be off the menu

Researchers from the University of Miami have discovered a high concentration of neurotoxins that can be linked to Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases in 10 species of shark. As a result of their findings, the team have suggested that a restriction on the consumption of shark and products made from shark fins is likely to have positive health benefits for both consumers and for the conservation of sharks. Some of the shark species examined in the study are already under threat of extinction due to overfishing.

Samples were taken from 10 different species of shark

In order to conduct their study, the team collected tissue samples from the fins and muscle of ten species of shark which are normally found in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The samples were then tested for two specific toxins, mercury and BMAA. In recent studies, BMAA has been linked to both Alzheimer’s and ALS. The team found that there were concentrations of both toxins in all the species of sharks tested, and that they were at a level that may be dangerous for the health of humans.

Shark products are a common part of the Asian diet

The reason for this concentration of toxins is down to the fact that the shark tissues tend to accumulate and concentrate specific toxins ingested from their prey. These toxins are not only a threat for the health of the sharks themselves, but also for humans who eat shark as part of their diet, or use supplements made from shark fin. Such shark products are a common part of the diet in Asia and Asian communities, where shark fin soup is extremely popular, and are also included in traditional Chinese medicines.

People who consume shark products may be at risk of developing neurological diseases

As a result of their research, the team have suggested that people who consume shark meat, fins or health products containing shark may be at risk of developing neurological diseases. With this in mind, they’ve recommended that people should consider reducing the amount of shark parts that they do consume.

The full research article was published in the online journal Toxins.

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