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Q. Can you get cancer from eating fish that contains mercury?

High levels of mercury exposure can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system of people of all ages. There isn’t enough human data available for all forms of mercury to conclude that it causes cancer. 

However, in very high doses, some forms of mercury have caused increases in several types of tumors in rats and mice. 

Mercury, a liquid metal also known as quicksilver, combines with carbon to make organic mercury compounds; methylmercury is the most common one. Methylmercury is made primarily by microscopic organisms in water and soil. 

Methylmercury builds up in the tissues of fish. Larger and older fish tend to have the highest levels of mercury. Research shows that most people's fish consumption does not cause a health concern.

Contact your local health department to check local advisories about the safety of fish caught in nearby waters. 

Fred Cicetti

Fred Cicetti is a freelance writer who specializes in health. He has been writing professionally since 1963. 

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