Cannibal study darkens mad cow outlook

Jun 23, 2006

A British researcher, using a study of cannibals, warns that mad cow disease may eventually kill lot more humans than is known now.

The findings, published Friday in the British medical journal Lancet, were drawn from a study of cannibals in New Guinea who had enjoyed long lives until they fell victim to a brain-wasting disease.

The research by the University College in London studied kuru, a disease that had taken a heavy toll of the cannibals. It said kuru can incubate for decades but then can start a quick, irreversible descent into dementia and death, reports The New York Times.

"Recent estimates of the size of the vCJD epidemic based on uniform genetic susceptibility could be substantial underestimations," said Dr. John Collinge, the study's lead author. Humans get vCJD, or variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, from cows with mad cow disease.

The Times said several experts on prion diseases, blamed for killing the New Guinea cannibals and British eaters of infected beef, praised the work of the researchers but felt the findings did not prove there will be future waves of deaths among people who ate beef from prion-infected cows in the 1980's. So far about 160 people, mostly in Britain, have died of vCJD.

Collinge said he was not predicting a specific number of deaths. He also said he did not believe the disease is disappearing.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: World-first in showing clinical-quality Proton CT for treatment of cancer

Related Stories

Solar Impulse 2 pilot becomes aviation legend

10 hours ago

At 62 years of age, Swiss Solar Impulse 2 pilot Andre Borschberg has made aviation history with a record breaking solo flight across the Pacific that he has called "an interior journey".

Facegloria: Facebook for Brazil's Evangelicals

10 hours ago

Fluffy clouds waft across a blue sky as you log in and while you chat with friends, Gospel music rings out: welcome to Facegloria, the social network for Brazilian Evangelicals.

Mexico City proposes regulations for Uber

10 hours ago

Mexico City is proposing regulations that would allow Uber and other smartphone-based ride-sharing apps to operate, while requiring drivers and cars to be registered, the city's Office of Legal and Legislative Studies said ...

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

23 hours ago

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

Recommended for you

WHO says too few countries taxing tobacco products enough

23 minutes ago

Taxing cigarettes up to 75 percent of their retail price is among the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, but too few governments levy high enough taxes, according to a World Health Organization global report released ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.