Poultry Exposure & Neurological Disease

Poultry Exposure & Neurological Disease
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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.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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 “are a potential source of infection for humans. Humans can be infected by direct contact with live or killed birds, their blood and secretions [the so-called ‘chicken juice’ in the package of raw meat], consumption of raw or inadequately cooked poultry meat, or other products, such as eggs and vaccinations…”

“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 cancers, 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 degenerative spinal cord condition], myasthenia gravis [an autoimmune nerve disease], hypertension, heart disease, diseases of the esophagus, peritonitis [which is inflammation of the abdominal lining], and other diseases of the kidney…” They conclude that this apparent “excess occurrence of disease affecting several organs and systems, [is] 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…”

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Image thanks to Julia Manzerova via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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 “are a potential source of infection for humans. Humans can be infected by direct contact with live or killed birds, their blood and secretions [the so-called ‘chicken juice’ in the package of raw meat], consumption of raw or inadequately cooked poultry meat, or other products, such as eggs and vaccinations…”

“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 cancers, 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 degenerative spinal cord condition], myasthenia gravis [an autoimmune nerve disease], hypertension, heart disease, diseases of the esophagus, peritonitis [which is inflammation of the abdominal lining], and other diseases of the kidney…” They conclude that this apparent “excess occurrence of disease affecting several organs and systems, [is] 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…”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Julia Manzerova via flickr

Doctor's Note

For the cancer mortality studies I refer to at the beginning, see Chicken Dioxins, Viruses, or Antibiotics?Poultry & Penis Cancer; and Wart Cancer Viruses in Food. And for more on the viruses specifically mentioned, see Carcinogenic Retrovirus Found in Eggs. And if anyone’s thinking, “What about Guillain-Barré syndrome?”, stay tuned—Poultry & Paralysis is coming up next!

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

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

24 responses to “Poultry Exposure & Neurological Disease

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  1. 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.

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

  3. 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? ( http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/6/1/10 ) What diet would you recommend for mental illnesses in general? For example EPAs in Omega3?

  4. Wow did you do a good job of barely mentioning the part about vaccines that are produced using eggs. Like the influenza vaccine perhaps? More commentary is definitely needed on this subject.

  5. A person that i know got myasthenia gravis, I would like to know if diet could help the situation? Before the medication he felt pain in his body, vision trouble, can’t drive at night. with medication his vision is ok during the day, felt less pain his body, have hard time to swallow and can’t keep his eye lid open when sitting for relaxing. thank you

    1. Great question, Frederic and Kay! First, for those not familiar with the condition, myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal (voluntary) muscles of the body. The hallmark of myasthenia gravis is muscle weakness that increases during periods of activity and improves after periods of rest. Certain muscles such as those that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, chewing, talking, and swallowing are often, but not always, involved in the disorder. The muscles that control breathing and neck and limb movements may also be affected. There are good medications for this condition and most people have a normal lifespan.

      In answer to your question, while I couldn’t find much research specifically on diet for myasthenia gravis, I know many people (including many who read this site) have had significant improvement in their autoimmune conditions by eating a WFPB diet. Dr. Greger has this video on animal proteins triggering autoimmune disease. This video discusses diet and autoimmune disease. Finally, if you google “myasthenia graves and vegan diet” there are lots of testimonials from people with the condition who feel better eating plant foods. While that isn’t research, it’s still powerful stuff!

    2. As someone that has myasthenia gravis, Diet helps a lot. With a whole plant diet, no processed foods and taking extra good care of yourself- I have been able to keep it in remission for the most part. It does not cure it. Saying every time I am under stress my symptoms flare up.
      I have done a ton of research on myasthenia gravis & leaky gut (lots of autoimmune disorders stems from this). I suggest that your friend should do their research as well.
      I have heard of a lot of people going into remission from this lifestyle, but once they start feeling great and decide to start eating in there old habits the symptoms come back with vengeance and are a lot of the times worse than before.
      Good Luck to your friend!

  6. Perhaps I missed this detail, but I’m curious if these viral exposures are also with live healthy chickens (for example at a no-kill farm sanctuary) or if it is always related to poultry farming? What about a a free range egg farm like Vitale? I ask because my children go to a school that is also a sustainable farm sanctuary and they play and care for chickens daily.

  7. This question has nothing to do with the topic but website instructions advises to post. I am a family physician and have newly acquired a patient with neurofibromatosis. I would be greatly interested to learn if there have been any studies showing any improvement of symptoms using a plant based diet. Thank you.

    1. Hello, doctor, and thanks for your question,

      we don’t have any particular video about neurofibromatosis on our site, I will pass your question to Dr. Greger and he might do a video about it. Plant based diet can never hurt to try, thought. BUT there are some studies I found that could help people affected by neurofibromatosis:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28754004

      “Curcumin, a turmeric-derived polyphenol, has been shown to interact with several molecular targets implicated in carcinogenesis. Here, we describe the impact of different dietary patterns, namely Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) compared to the Western diet (WesDiet), both with or without curcumin, on NF1 patients’ health. After six months, patients adopting a traditional MedDiet enriched with 1200 mg curcumin per day (MedDietCurcumin) presented a significant reduction in the number and volume of cutaneous neurofibromas; these results were confirmed in subsequent evaluations.”

      Just a personal note: Curcumin could interact with possible treatment/medication.

      Possible nutritional deficiencies:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25933494

      Headache:

      “efficacy and safety of a nutraceutical complex containing Ginkgolide B/Coenzyme Q10/Riboflavin/Magnesium for prophylaxis in a sample of children affected by NF1 presenting migraine without aura” “Our findings suggest that headache symptoms should be considered a therapeutic target independent of primary disorder.”

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23532548

      Moderator Adam P.

      1. I can only share my personal experience and I hope this might help your patient.

        I have NF1 and I have researched extensively the function of the NF1 and the associated health problems, not only the syndromic manifestations but also an increased risk for all cancers, with an adverse prognosis. After noticing a worsening and increasing of the numbers of cutaneous neurofibromas and being worried that whatever had triggered an acceleration on the skin might trigger internal tumour growth I decided to adopt a whole food plant based diet and supplemented with curcumin, green tea following mostly richard belliveau’s studies. After a month I was shocked to notice a reduction in the cutaneous neurofibromas. At my geneticist appointment I brought pictures and tried to talk to the NF1 team about it but my doctors just rolled their eyes between them. This was months before the publication of Italian study. I also tried to talk about it to the Children Tumour Foundation (the NF1 foundation) but always the same answer: diet has no effect on tumours growth.

        My story is of course only anecdotal. My family doctor had noticed a worsening and commented on it and when I changed my diet , I made sure to inform her of the reasons. I think she was sceptical at first, but months later I showed her my skin and she was as surprised as I was. When I found the Italian study and gave her both printed and digital copies, she is now on board with me.

        Very very little is written on nutrition and NF1, mostly to state how awful our diet is. However, a lot is being done for a very similar (same arm of the same chromosome and both tumour suppressor genes) genetic defect, the BRCA1 and 2. In Canada, a study called LIBRE (LIfestyle Intervention on BReast cancer gene) is looking at how lifestyle might trigger the onset of breast cancer. This study and many others were what pushed me to change my diet. Even within the same NF1 mutation, there are difference in the way it develops. If the gene is the same, the environment might make the difference.

        The Italian study is hopefully going to change the approach to the management of NF1, especially in the younger years , in the hope to prevent not only the terrible disfiguration of face and body that mainly appears at adolescence, but also all the internal tumours (especially on spine, brain, GI tract) and cancers.

        I would really welcome a video on Neurofibromatosis and nutrition.

  8. This question has nothing to do with the topic but website instructions advises to post. I am a family physician and have newly acquired a patient with neurofibromatosis. I would be greatly interested to learn if there have been any studies showing any improvement of symptoms using a plant based diet. Thank you.

  9. A friend’s family member suffers from schizophrenia and is getting worse and worse… Is there specific data/proof about WFPB diet helping with schizophrenia? They probably won’t consider it unless I can show them something solid. ..

    Any tips please? Thank you very much in advance !

  10. When I searched PubMed I found abstracts for articles about diet and schizophrenia. Although they do not cite specifically WFPB nutrition, they do discuss the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet in treatment for schizophrenia. These should help along with Dr. Greger’s video on the connection between this disease and meat:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25240858/
    Schizophrenia and the gut-brain axis.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29246029/
    The role of microbiota in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and major depressive disorder and the possibility of targeting microbiota as a treatment option.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28499901
    Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient status, supplementation, and mechanisms in patients with schizophrenia.

    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/brain-parasites-in-meat/

    I’m glad you are there to lend support to your friend and to remind him/her that keeping in good health him/herself will help meet the difficult challenges of dealing with a family member’s severe mental condition.

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