Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gimli gobblers - Mercury scientists to conduct unique human experiment next week

01.11.2004


A world-leading team of Canadian scientists thinks that diet may play a critical role in limiting the body’s absorption of the toxic heavy metal mercury, and they’re lining up to test the idea on themselves.



The scientists from the NSERC-funded Collaborative Mercury Research Network (COMERN) have identified dramatic differences in the extent to which mercury from eating fish is absorbed by people in a variety of small Canadian communities.

Since 2000, COMERN researchers have been working closely with communities in the Lac St-Pierre (on the shore of the St. Lawrence east of Montreal) and Abititi regions of Quebec, island communities in the Bay of Fundy, and Innu communities in Labrador, examining their exposure to mercury through the fish they eat.


The research has revealed a mysterious anomaly. Hair or blood samples of individuals in the communities with the highest mercury exposure actually revealed the lowest body mercury levels. "There’s a huge discrepancy between mercury exposure and the extent to which it’s absorbed by people in these various communities," says Dr. Marc Lucotte, a biologist at the Université du Québec à Montréal and the lead researcher in COMERN.

What’s responsible for this significant difference in uptake?

"We suspect there is something different in the food in some communities and that this is preventing individuals from absorbing mercury," says Dr. Lucotte.

That something, the researchers suspect, could be simply old fashioned tea. Tea-drinking Japanese communities known to be exposed to high levels of mercury through fish consumption have also shown unusually low levels of absorption. Tea is known to be a strong chelating agent – it contains particles called flavonoids which bind with heavy metals to prevent their absorption by the body. To test this tea theory the researchers are rolling out the dinner plates and rolling up their sleeves.

At COMERN’s annual general meeting next week in Gimli, Manitoba, 60 mercury researchers will participate in a unique experiment. For three days, half the experimental group will eat two meals a day of local Lake Winnipeg fish washed down with six cups of black tea. The other half will eat the fish but drink no tea. Participants will provide blood samples for mercury level testing at the beginning and end of the conference. (Dr. Lucotte stresses that the Lake Winnipeg fish were chosen for the experiment only because COMERN encourages the eating of local foods and that these fish contain only average amounts of mercury.)

Along with the important scientific evidence the experiment could reveal, Dr. Lucotte says that the Gimli tea-and-fish experiment is a crucial part of grounding the researchers in the type of participatory, community-based research they’re conducting.

"Being guinea pigs like this takes us back to our roots," says Dr. Lucotte. "It’s important for us to remember that we’re not just working on a hypothetical story, we’re working with real people and real passions. And that we ourselves can be exposed to mercury in our diets and must make choices about this."

He expects the results of the Gimli experiment to be available by January, 2005.

Mike Paterson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uqam.ca

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Vanishing capillaries
23.03.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Inactivate vaccines faster and more effectively using electron beams

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>