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Poultry Exposure and Neurological Disease

Poultry workers exhibit an excess of a wide range of diseases, from thyroid conditions to schizophrenia and autoimmune neurological disorders such as myasthenia gravis. This may be due to exposure to viruses present in chickens and turkeys.

April 12, 2012 |
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Sources Cited


Image thanks to Julia Manzerova


More cancer mortality associated with poultry exposure; what about Non-cancer mortality? The root cause of many chronic diseases in humans is, after all, still unknown. Chickens and turkeys destined for human consumption and their products are infected with a plethora of transmissible agents that cause a variety of diseases in the animals, including cancer, diseases of the nervous system, cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, etc.
That’s in the animals, but they can be a source of infection. humans can be infected by direct contact with live or killed birds, their blood and secretions, consumption of raw or inadequately cooked poultry meat or other products such as eggs, and vaccination.
We already have serologic evidence—testing for antibodies—that humans are commonly infected with avian leukosis/sarcoma viruses, reticuloendotheliosis viruses and Marek's disease virus, that cause a wide variety of cancer, neurologic and other diseases in chickens and turkeys. The question therefore arises as to whether these agents also cause similar diseases in humans, especially those human diseases whose cause is currently undetermined.
They figured, look if it’s going to affect anyone it would be the poultry workers first, and indeed they found that compared to the control group, an excess of deaths was observed for disorders of the thyroid gland, senile and pre-senile psychotic conditions like schizophrenia, anterior horn cell disease, which is a spinal cord disease, myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune nerve disease, hypertension, heart disease, diseases of the esophagus, peritonitis, and other diseases of the kidney. They conclude that this apparent excess occurrence of disease affecting several organs and systems, probably originating from widespread infection with a variety of microorganisms..
So this notion that the present findings may perhaps be providing the first clues that cases of some of the neurologic diseases that occur in the general population may owe their origin to the presence of transmissible agents present in animals and animal products used for food, such as poultry, is plausible….

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

For the cancer mortality studies I refer to at the beginning, see Chicken Dioxins, Viruses, or AntibioticsPoultry and Penis Cancer and Wart Cancer Viruses in Food. And for more on the viruses specifically mentioned, seeyesterday’s video. And if anyone's thinking, what about Guillain-Barré syndrome? Stay tuned—that's tomorrow video! In the meantime, feel free to check out hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Treating an Enlarged Prostate With Diet.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For the cancer mortality studies I refer to at the beginning, see Chicken Dioxins, Viruses, or Antibiotics, Poultry and Penis Cancer and Wart Cancer Viruses in Food. And for more on the viruses specifically mentioned, see yesterday’s video. And if anyone’s thinking, what about Guillain-Barré syndrome? Stay tuned—that’s tomorrow video! In the meantime, feel free to check out hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

  • kerem

    I wonder if there any studies about the morbidity of poultry industry workers. I tried to search and found just researches about their mortality.

  • Pamela Zerbe

    Is there a way I can communicate with you more privately off of this site?

  • doceva

    How can I know if my thyroid is healthy?

  • annalisa

    I have switched to being vegetarian since 2 months. After watching your videos, and reading Campbell, Esselstyn, McDougall the switch was easy. However I have always loved starch – i.e. bread, pasta (all mostly whole wheat, rarely processed) and I literally feel my brain needs it. My issue is that I am schizophrenic due to various life events. I wanted to know is there latest research about the schizophrenia – gluten/starch connection and is there any special diet for schizophrenics? There are some studies on a ketogenic diet which show successes, but how can this be achieved with a plant based diet? ( ) What diet would you recommend for mental illnesses in general? For example EPAs in Omega3?