Study links foie gras consumption with Alzheimer's, arthritis, diabetes, other diseases

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A study published on June 18 in the American Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found a link between the consumption of foie gras and other meat products and a number of diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus type 2, tuberculosis, and amyloidosis. The link exists in genetically susceptible individuals.

Liver of a force-fed bird used to make foie gras. A recent study links consumption of this and other meats with diseases such as Alzheimer's, arthritis, and diabetes.

The study was lead by Alan Solomon, M.D., a professor and researcher at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine and the director of the Human Immunology and Cancer / Alzheimer's Disease and Amyloid-Related Disorders Research Program. Amyloidoses are a group of disease states caused by the deposition in vital organs of proteins in the form of fibrils, causing a range of symptoms such as swelling and kidney damage. The deposition of amyloid beta in the brain is central in the origin of the disease process of Alzheimer's disease. Foie gras is made from the livers of ducks or geese that have been force-fed.

According to Solomon, "we posit that this and perhaps other forms of amyloidosis may be transmissible, akin to the infectious nature of prion-related illnesses [such as mad cow disease]. In addition to foie gras, meat derived from sheep and seemingly healthy cattle may represent other dietary sources of [the fibrils]. People with a family history of Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or other amyloid-associated diseases should avoid consuming foie gras and other foods that may be contaminated with fibrils," continued Solomon.

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