Shark Fin Soup Poses Risk For Alzheimer's: Study

Shark fins have a high concentration of a BMAA neurotoxin.

By Karen Franklin and Sarah Grieco
|  Friday, Mar 2, 2012  |  Updated 1:05 PM PDT
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Consuming shark fin soup poses a risk for neurodegenerative diseases in humans, according to a study by scientists from the University of Miami.

Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in many Pacific-rim areas.

A bill banning the shark fin trade in California was signed into law in October.

The study found that the shark fins have a high concentration of a BMAA neurotoxin, which has been liked to diseases like Alzheimer's and ALS, also know as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The study also said the same risk applies for cartilage pills.

In a 2009 study, experts found that people dying of neurodegenerative diseases had high levels of BMAA compared with healthy people, according to the article.

High levels of BMAA have also been found in fruit bats in Guam.

A research assistant professor at the school said that the study benefits humans and the environment.

“Not only does this work provide important information on one probable route of human exposure to BMAA, it may lead to a lowering of the demand for shark fin soup and consumption of shark products, which will aid ocean conservation efforts,” said Neil Hammerschlag, a research assistant professor at the university's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science.

Sharks are the most threatened marine species, according to the study. Once the fins are removed from the animal, it is tossed back into the water to die, according to Hammerschlag.

The study was conducted on seven species of shark, including blacknose, blacktp, bonnethead, bull, great hammerhead, lemon and nurse sharks.


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