Health Advice



Another raw deal: Microplastics carry germs to raw shellfish

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

When Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson celebrated his 50th birthday on May 2, he went all in for a RAW menu of wrestling and sentimental recollections. Unfortunately, as a declared sushi eater, he has also been seen eating raw. And let me tell you, these days that's not anything to celebrate.

Two studies, one from the National University of Singapore in 2019 and a new one from the University of California Davis have found that the 24.4 trillion pieces of microplastic debris that permeate the oceans turn out to be letting unhealthy bacteria hitch a ride on their backs. Then, as the disease-carrying microplastics settle, shellfish such as oysters and clams swallow them (which by themselves may be dangerous since plastic contains seriously unhealthy chemicals).

See where this is going? If you then eat that shellfish raw, there's a risk for a serious take down! You can get knocked off your feet by body-slamming infections from hitchhiking cryptosporidium, giardia and potentially Toxoplasma gondii. The first two can trigger serious respiratory or gastrointestinal distress, and Toxoplasma gondii can cause lifelong illnesses and heart failure. And chances are viruses, fungi and parasites can glom onto microplastics, too.

Where do these microplastics come from? From the 480 billion plastic bottles used globally every year and other plastic waste, as well as polyethylene microbeads used in exfoliants and makeup removers and polyester microfibers in fabrics.

The bottom line: Don't eat raw shellfish. And I'd suggest that the smart move is to dodge all raw fish -- including sushi.



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



Kevin Siers Andy Capp Gary McCoy Dan Wasserman Jeff Koterba Dinette Set