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When Healing Becomes a Commodity
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Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
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Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
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MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
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Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
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Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
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Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
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Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
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Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
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Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
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'Organic' May Not Mean Healthier
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Eating Vegan or Raw-Vegan at Regular Restaurants
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Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
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Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
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Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
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Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
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Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
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New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
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A Honey of a Sinusitis Treatment
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Swine Flu May Pose Problems for Pregnant Women
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Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
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Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
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Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
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Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
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Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
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Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Help Your Kids Stay Active
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Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
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Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
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Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
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Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
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Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
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Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
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Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure

(HealthDay News) -- Although new research links mercury in seafood with high blood pressure, this isn't reason enough for most people to stop eating fish, the study leader says.

"The small increase of blood pressure due to methylmercury will never outweigh the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids," said Dr. Eric Dewailly, a professor in the department of social and preventive medicine at Laval University in Quebec and lead author of a report in the Oct. 5 issue of Hypertension.

Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish, such as fatty sardines, herring, trout and salmon, are associated in many studies with a reduced risk of death from heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating two meals a week containing four to six ounces of such fish.

But because fish can contain high levels of methylmercury, which can interfere with the normal development of the nervous system and brain in fetuses and newborns, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises pregnant women, those trying to get pregnant, nursing women and children to limit their fish intake.

FDA guidelines limit intake of low-mercury fish for those individuals to 12 ounces a week and high-mercury fish to three 6-ounce servings a month. The FDA also advises avoiding fish most like to carry the highest levels of mercury -- shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

At first glance, the Canadian study appears to add high blood pressure to the list of problems linked to methylmercury in fish. Dewailly and his colleagues conducted a survey of Inuit residents of 14 Nunavik communities in northern Quebec, where the traditional diet is based on fish and marine mammals.

It found an average blood mercury level of 50 nanomoles per liter of blood, much higher than the 4-nanomole level of the general U.S. population. It also found a relationship between blood mercury levels and blood pressure after adjusting for other factors, such as smoking and physical activity.

Studies have shown that exposure to environmental mercury can affect the endothelium, the delicate lining of blood vessels, and decrease the ability of smooth muscles to relax, which could explain the slight increase in blood pressure seen in the study, Dewailly said.

It was not a great effect, he said. "For every 10 percent increase in blood mercury level, there is a 0.2 millimeter increase in blood pressure," Dewailly said. "Even if you apply that to an entire population, that is a small effect."

So, a 10 percent increase in blood mercury would raise a blood pressure reading from 120/80 to 120.2/80, Dewailly indicated. That is not a reason to avoid fish "if you look at the fish nutrients that are reported to be associated with so many benefits," he said.

But it's important to eat the right kind of fish, the oily species, Dewailly said. Anyone worried about blood pressure should avoid fish that have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and high mercury content, such as big predator fish, including swordfish, marlin and shark, he said.

Another heart expert concurred.

"Many Americans can safely enjoy eating fish as a regular part of their diet to achieve the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids," said Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University and a member of the American Heart Association Council on Nutrition Metabolism and Physical Activity Committee.

"And this includes canned light tuna, which is significantly lower in mercury than white tuna," she said in a statement.

SOURCES: Eric Dewailly, M.D., professor, preventive medicine, Laval University, Quebec, Canada; Oct. 5, 2009, Hypertension