WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 Today, the Mercury Policy Project released an
expanded case study
based on reports of doctors diagnosing patients with mercury toxicity.
The report documents illness from 23 people who got sick from eating
too much mercury-laden fish. Many of them live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read the report
report was released after news that the Bush FDA was planning to
rescind the mercury in fish advisories for women and children.
levels in swordfish and tuna sold in the U. S. are sky-high," said Teri
Shore, Program Director for the GotMercury Project of Turtle Island
Restoration Network in Forest Knolls, CA. "And now the government and
tuna companies want to keep mothers and children completely in the dark
The FDA does not enforce the "action level" of 1 part per million mercury in fish, nor does it test or label such fish. The mercury standard is half that of Canada, Japan and the European Union and is based on flawed science and an industry lawsuit that dates back to the early 1970s.
Dr. Jane Hightower of San Francisco chronicled the seafood
industry's interference in public health policy in the book Diagnosis
"We've known for years that mercury is toxic to the
brain and other organs in varying amounts depending on the individual's
status. For FDA to suddenly change the equation to say that benefits
outweigh risks is like once again declaring the earth is flat after
discovering it was round," concluded Jane M. Hightower, M.D., an
internal medicine physician in San Francisco, CA, who published a
landmark study that brought the issue of mercury in seafood to national
attention. "Simply stated, FDA's proposed recommendation to eat more
fish is likely based on flawed science."
In 2004, the FDA joined the EPA in releasing advice to restrict the
species and amounts of fish eaten by pregnant women and children due to
exposure risks to mercury. Last Friday, in a draft report submitted to
the White House, the FDA proposed to not only rescind that advice, but
recommend that sensitive populations eat more mercury-contaminated fish.
"Talk about getting hooked on fish stories," said Michael Bender,
Director of the Mercury Policy Project. "FDA has really gone overboard
this time by casting out the science and reeling in the industry 'line'
instead," Bender said, referring to an industry report released prior
to the FDA report that reached strikingly similar conclusions.
Exposure and toxic effects in adults and children are well-documented. Dr. Hightower's new book, Diagnosis: Mercury: Money, Politics and Poison, catalogues her patients' mercury poisoning case histories.
"Patients in my private medical practice, as well as at other
doctor's offices around the country, have been diagnosed with mercury
toxicity from eating too much fish. Ignoring the presence of a known
neurotoxin in one's diet is simply asking for trouble," said Dr.
"To say there's nothing to worry about simply ignores reality," said
Stephanie Simmons. "My daughter's reactions to additional mercury in
her system from one meal of fish are testimony to that. Before being
diagnosed and treated, her symptoms were dramatic, but now, subtler and
longer-lasting after-effects still remain."
Simmons's story about her daughter is not an isolated case.
Diagnosis of low-dose mercury poisoning from fish consumption is
challenging unless physicians know what to look for and order the tests
to confirm the diagnosis.
Today, the Mercury Policy Project released an expanded case study,
all based on reports of doctors diagnosing patients with mercury
Dr. Jane Hightower's book, Diagnosis: Mercury: Money, Politics and Poison at: www.Diagnosismercury.org
Mercury Policy Project's new report, "Over the Limit," on patient histories related to mercury poisoning, at: www.mercurypolicy.org
Access the draft FDA report, EPA's response and related information at: www.ewg.org/node/27431
Calculator for personal use to estimate one's mercury body-burden at: www.GotMercury.org
Joint FDA/EPA fish consumption advice at: www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/admehg3.html