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Q: I recently read an article that stated high levels of mercury can also cause people to lose their hair. I eat a lot of tuna, salmon and mahi-mahi and am wondering if this could be my problem.

A: While there is concern about levels of mercury in fish, I am not aware of any proof that people are having harmful effects from it. There is no question that high levels of mercury can be harmful but unclear about lower levels one would get from eating a lot of fish. This is particularly confusing since fish is generally the healthiest form of animal food. Of course the long term answer is to stop mercury from polluting waterways.

Re hair however, there is not the least evidence that mercury is a factor in hair loss. Unfortunately, for various reasons, many come up with causes for which there is no evidence. This is the case with mercury. There is no evidence that diet or deficiencies, except perhaps iron, is a cause of alopecia in North America or Europe. When diet is a factor it is either in people with very substantial weight loss, or with diseases which interfere with nutrition.

The important thing is that getting effective treatment depends on accurate diagnosis. Although there can be many causes of hair loss, most is hormonal. If alopecia is hormonal, then treatment should be directed at correcting this as discussed in my web article

Hope this is helpful.


Geoffrey Redmond, MD

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