This research provides evidence that low levels of methyl mercury exposure are linked to undetected autoimmunity, among females of reproductive age in the general population.
We are mainly exposed to methyl mercury when we eat fish and shellfish that contain methyl mercury.
Emily Somers and her team researched 1,352 women aged 16-49 years in the USA. They looked at mercury levels by analyzing hair, urine and blood samples.
They found that mercury exposure is associated with increased risk of high-titer ANA positivity: the women with the higher levels of mercury also had higher levels ofantinuclear antibodies or ANA's.
The immune system makes proteins called antibodies. Antibodies are made by white blood cells and they recognize and combat infectious organisms in the body. Sometimes these antibodies make a mistake, identifying normal, naturally-occurring proteins in our bodies as being "foreign" and dangerous. The antibodies that target “normal” proteins within the nucleus of a cell are called antinuclear antibodies (ANA). *
Many autoimmune diseases, are caused by such antibodies including Lupus, Scleroderma, Polymyositis and Sjogren's Syndrome.
The presence of ANA does not mean autoimmune disease exists but it can be a predictor of future autoimmune disease.
SEE WHAT FISH YOU CAN SAFELY EAT and which have high levels of mercury here.
*American College of Rheumatology