Joe Rogan thought someone was poisoning him — turns out, his fishy habit was the culprit.
The podcast host, comedian and UFC commentator revealed he developed arsenic poisoning after over-consuming sardines.
“You can get arsenic from sardines, too,” Rogan said on a recent episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” with Elon Musk. “I found that out the hard way.”
While his initial reaction to the low levels of arsenic in his blood was that someone was poisoning him, doctors discovered it was Rogan’s nightly indulgence of three cans of sardines after coming home late from the comedy club.
“That’s a lot of sardines, man,” Musk quipped during the episode.
On a previous episode of Rogan’s podcast, in which he again discussed the tinned fish, the host recalled that his physician told him to “cut those out.” After ditching his salty snack, he returned for bloodwork months later and discovered there was “no more arsenic” in his blood.
According to a 2020 test conducted by Consumer Labs, sardines are shown to be “very high in arsenic,” compared to other dark meat fish like tuna or salmon.
However, seafood is typically contaminated with “organic arsenic,” or naturally occurring arsenic in the earth, as opposed to “inorganic arsenic,” which is a man-made carcinogen used mostly in industrial settings. The latter poses a greater health risk.
While arsenic is found in soil, air and food, it is most commonly consumed in what we eat, with seafood being the main culprit, followed by rice, mushrooms and poultry, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Poisoning from inorganic arsenic — which can result in symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and even cancer or other diseases — can occur through contaminated soil or water, and has been previously documented.
In 2021, a 45-year-old Caucasian man who regularly ate seafood and canned sardines experienced headaches and peripheral neuropathy, or weakness in the hands or feet, for two months, and a urine test revealed his symptoms were a result of arsenic poisoning, of the inorganic kind.
But arsenic isn’t the only contaminant present in the canned fish.
Certain seafood — including sardines — contains mercury, which is why experts recommend against over-consumption.
Tuna, although nutritious, is known for its higher mercury content, which is why experts advise not to eat it every single day.
While mercury poses a greater risk to children and pregnant people, over-consumption can result in detrimental health effects in anyone, such as fertility issues, memory loss, tremors, vision loss, blood pressure problems and more.
While sardines are low-mercury swimmers, dietitians warn that eating them more than four times a week could result in too much mercury exposure.
Despite containing a substance that produces uric acid — which can pose a risk to people with kidney problems — sardines are also jam-packed with nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, protein and a plethora of vitamins and minerals.