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 How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism
19.01.2018 | Weill Cornell Medicine

nachricht Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system
17.01.2018 | Duke University Medical Center

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: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>