A recent study based on toenail clippings has reportedly turned up “no evidence” of any link between dietary mercury exposure and coronary heart disease, stroke, or total cardiovascular disease. Dariush Mozaffarian, et al., “Mercury Exposure and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Two U.S. Cohorts,” New England Journal of Medicine, March 24, 2011. Researchers evidently used toenail clippings from approximately 7,000 people to gauge long-term mercury and selenium exposure from fish consumption, as well as collected dietary and health data from a second cohort of 173,000 participants. The results reportedly found no difference in heart disease and stroke rates for those in the top quintile for mercury concentrations and those in the bottom.

Previous research had raised questions about whether the mercury content of shark, swordfish and other predatory species outweighed the cardiovascular benefits associated with high fish consumption. “Basically, what we found was very simple and very clear,” one study author was quoted as saying. “I think this is the most definitive study, and I’m not sure more studies are actually needed. It’s nice to be able to answer an important research question. This is observational, so there’s possibly some subtle effect we missed. But I think this provides the most definitive evidence available.” See HealthDay News, March 23, 2011.

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