24 Mar 2009

Sushi anyone?? One story with thousand speculation...

I've received an email about this "story-told-to-be-true" about shushi....

Claim: photo of intersection of 80 years old man who died after parasite infestion due to eating sushi (I altered the photo to a smaller size version since I was sooo damn 'geli'):

Subject: FW: Sushi worms to sushi lovers........

This is a true case of a japanese man from Gifu Prefecture who complains incessantly about a persistent headache. Mr. Shota Fujiwara loves his sashimi and sushi very much to the extent of trying to get them as "alive and fresh" as can be for his insatiable appetite.

He developes a severe headache for the past 3 years and has put it off as migraine and stress from work. It was only when he started losing his psycomotor skills that he seeks medical help. A brain scan and x-ray reveals little however. But upon closer inspection by a specialist on his scalp, the doctor noticed small movements beneath his skin. It was then that the doctor did a local anaesthetic to his scalp and discovered the cause when tiny worms crawled out. A major surgery was thus immediately called for and the extent of the infestation was horrific. See the attached pictures to the scene that one thought only a movie could produced.:

Remember, tapeworms and roundworms and their eggs which abounds in all fishes fresh or saltwater can only be killed by thorough cooking and/or freezing the fish to between 4 degC - 0 degsC. The eggs of these parasites can only be killed if it is cooked or frozen to the said temperatures for a week or more. Think twice about that raw dish next time... or you might get a headache

The speculation:

1. Anatomical landmarks as shown in the photo of dissected human brain are absent -thus some say it's a fake photo. Medical expert has speculated that the if the photos is real, it's not due to parasite infestion instead it's because an extremely serious case of scalp cancer, not a "brain infection."

2. It's told that the photographs in question were indeed taken at Stanford University Hospital, where the cancer patient was brought by ambulance after a minor traffic accident (note that he did not "walk in," complaining of feeling "a little wobbly on his feet," as the email alleges).

3. Some facts from medical expects; evidently, maggots can infest the human brain, and so can certain types of tapeworm larvae. However, these conditions are fairly rare, and -- in spite there is no indication that these particular parasites can migrate to other organs, such as the brain.
"In contrast, pork tapeworm, which is causing a much more serious array of symptoms as their larvae can be found in brain however, the larvae is embedded and in cyst form in neural tissue. Definitely they can't crawling freely in your brain like shown in the photo."

Please ignore the speculation and focus on the 'real' thing we are now facing;

The real issues that we need to worry now:

Image: Nanette Nicholson

1. Anisakiasis is a parasitic disease due to Anisakis simplex round worm which can be found from eating raw and uncook food such as sashimi, sushi, and ceviche. Anisakiasis can mimic other diseases, such as acute appendicitis, stomach tumors, and inflammatory bowel disease;

Symptoms: - acute syndrome with nausea and vomiting
- abdominal pain or diarrhea (within 12 hours of eating infected seafood)


2. Mercury level accumulated in ocean fish have been so much concerned nowdays. Known as a dangerous neurotoxin that could damage critical organs of the central nervous and cardiovascular systems.

One of the published reported mercury levels (Mercury tests on 94 fish samples collected by Oceana staff and volunteers from sushi bars and grocery stores from cities across the country) as below:

Full report here

Oceana report

You might been suprised by some of the findings:

-Mercury levels in fresh tuna is much more higher than FDA recommends.

-Same goes to the King mackerel (FDA’s “Do Not Eat” list). and swordfish which a fish that FDA recommends that sensitive population should avoid.

- One-third of sushi tuna samples exceeded the FDA “action level”;

"The highest sushi tuna sample had a mercury content of 2.2 ppm, more than
twice the FDA action level, and one in three samples tested above that

What we can do? The FDA advice on mercury can be summarized in a brief message:

"Women of childbearing age and young children can eat up to 12 ounces of seafood per week, but should not eat swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel or shark. They should also limit consumption of albacore tuna and tuna steaks to six ounces a week or less".

Low mercury good options ---> tilapia and Mackerel or “Saba”.


3. Another cons' is if the sushi contaminate with organic pollutants such as Dioxins and PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls). They are carcinogens and endocrine disruptor which can cause developmental and immune problems (scary huh?)

This all is the product of industrial pollutants. The worst part is they accumulate in the fatty flesh of fishes (part of the fish which is tasty to eat!).


Despite all the cons of eating sushi, as a sushi lover (yes I am!), sushi rich of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) that have so many health benefits reduce the risk of heart disease, increase babies IQ (click here for more detail from research), slow down Alzhemer's disease and other stuff.

Is it worth it?
I'm not fools with dubious scare-tactic interpretations of actual facts that people out there trying to do. Just maybe I'll choose which sushi I want to eat.

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