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"Safe" Seafood Toxin Levels May Lead to Kidney Damage

Update Date: Feb 06, 2014 05:31 PM EST

Current government guidelines on seafood may not protect people from kidney damage, according to a new study.

New research reveals that a toxin in seafood, which is known to cause brain and kidney damage, are actually more harmful that originally thought. Researchers said government officials should reconsider what levels of the toxin are safe for human consumption.

Researchers explain that some algae produce certain neurotoxins that harm humans and other animals.  Researchers said the neurotoxin domoic acid or "Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning," is a very stable, heat resistant toxin is building up in coastal regions probably because of environmental changes. These toxins can accumulate in seafood like mussels, clams, scallops, and fish.

While the Food and Drug Administration has set a legal limit of domoic acid in seafood to prevent negative neurological effects, researchers believe the current limits may not protect the kidneys, organs that clear domoic acid is cleared from the body.

Experiments on mice revealed that the kidney is significantly more sensitive to domoic acid than the brain.

"We have found that domoic acid damages kidneys at concentrations that are 100 times lower than what causes neurological effects," said Dr. Bell. "This means that humans who consume seafood may be at an increased risk of kidney damage possibly leading to kidney failure and dialysis."

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).

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