Poultry and Paralysis
The Poultry and Penis Cancer study featured last week on Care2 found an association between poultry exposure and cancer mortality, but what about non-cancer mortality? The cancer-causing viruses in chickens and turkeys (and eggs) also cause a wide variety of other diseases. In my 3 min. video Poultry Exposure and Neurological Disease I profile a study that found a link between poultry exposure and death from thyroid disorders, schizophrenia, and autoimmune diseases such as myasthenia gravis.
There is one neurological condition definitively caused by an infectious agent in poultry, Guillain-Barré syndrome. Also known as acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, it’s a brutally rapid, life-threatening auto-immune attack on the nervous system triggered by a fecal pathogen found contaminating 70% of U.S. retail poultry. It’s like multiple sclerosis in fast-forward, where instead of taking years, you can end up paralyzed on a ventilator in a matter of days. Now that polio is largely a thing of the past, the most common cause of acute paralysis in the United States is, ultimately, chicken consumption. More details in my 2 min. video Poultry and Paralysis.
Given the risk of bringing fresh or frozen chicken into one’s home (or even handling it in the store) why does the U.S. poultry industry oppose safe-handling labels? Find out in today’s NutritionFacts.org video pick posted above.
Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: cyclonebill / Flickr