New CJD Exposure
Risks Reported: Don't Eat
Raw Meat Or Brains
LONDON (Reuters) - Eating raw meat and brain and exposure to leather or to fertilizer containing hoofs and horns are increased risk factors for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, European researchers said Friday.
Scientists from the European Union Collaborative Study Group of CJD, who conducted the biggest, most comprehensive research into the risk factors for the degenerative brain disorder, said genetic factors could also play an important part. ``CJD may be a hereditary disorder. It occurs in multiple generations. If a person has suffered from CJD there is a high risk he or she will pass it on to their children,'' Dr Cornelia van Duijn, of Erasmus University Medical School in Rotterdam, said in a telephone interview.
``Other forms of dementia are highly present in the families of these patients,'' she added. The scientists pooled information on CJD, the human equivalent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, from five European centers between 1993 and 1995. Their research compared information on genetic factors, medical history, occupation, diet and exposure to animals of more from 400 patients with definite or probable CJD and an equal number of healthy people.
``In the overall analyses, no evidence was found for an increase in risk of CJD associated with occupational exposure to cows. There was no association of CJD with the consumption of beef, veal, lamb or milk products,'' the group said in a report in the Lancet medical journal.
``The few positive findings of the study include increased risk in relation to consumption of raw meat and brain, frequent exposure to leather products and exposure to fertilizer consisting of hoofs and horns.''
But the scientists emphasized that the research was limited to the classical form of the disease and was conducted before British researchers identified a new strain of CJD (nvCJD) which studies have linked to consumption of beef contaminated with BSE.
The European Union imposed an immediate ban on British beef after scientists identified the new strain that infects young people in March 1996. So far 24 people have died from nvCJD. Classic CJD affects only one in one million people and normally strikes between the ages of 40 and 65. It can be transmitted between individuals through human growth hormones, neurosurgery and corneal transplants.
Stanley Prusiner, a professor of neurology and biochemistry at the University of California in San Francisco, won the 1997 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering the prion brain protein that sometimes mutates into a form that causes the brain disease in animals in humans.

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