Seafood: Can there be too much of a good thing?

10/04/2011 6:00 PM |

RANDEE DADDONA FILE PHOTO | Fishermen at Breakwater Beach in Mattituck.

Stony Brook University is calling all seafood lovers to participate in a new study that will examine the benefits and risks of seafood consumption.

The study, called “Long Island Study of Seafood Consumption,” will research levels of mercury and selenium in blood samples taken from participants.

Humans are primarily exposed to mercury through consumption of seafood, which contains methylmercury, an environmental product formed in aquatic systems that is linked to illnesses in adults if consumed at high levels.

All fish contain methylmercury, but some bigger and longer-lived fish, such as swordfish, shark, marlin, king mackerel and certain species of tuna, including bluefin, big eye, and yellow fin, have the highest levels, university officials said.

According to a 2007 study by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, about 25 percent of adults in New York City and nearly 50 percent of Asian New Yorkers are estimated to have blood mercury levels that exceeded recommended levels for pregnant women.

The Long Island Study of Seafood Consumptionstudy’s lead researcher, Jaymie Meliker, an assistant professor for the Department of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, said while seafood is generally good for your health, it is important for the public to understand the risks of eating certain fish.

“We hope the study results will help us to better communicate dietary recommendations to the public regarding the consumption of fish,” Dr. Meliker said in a statement.

The study is funded by The Gelfond Fund for Mercury Research & Outreach, which supports research at Stony Brook that aims to improve the understanding of how mercury cycles in the environment and the health effects of methylmercury from fish consumption.

To find out if you’re eligible to take part in the study, visit the screening questionnaire.

jennifer@timesreview.com