- Fizzy drink additives may be to blame
for the world's worst epidemic of a disfiguring facial disease which has
struck in the west of Scotland, researchers claim.
- Dental experts believe an allergic reaction
to carbonated drinks could be the cause of the outbreak of the incurable
illness oral Crohn's Disease, which causes grotesquely swollen lips.
- Crohn's Disease normally attacks the
bowel but 500 Scots, most of them children, have developed an oral form
of the disease - 88% of them live on the west coast of Scotland.
- This compares with just 40 cases of oral
Crohn's Disease in the whole of the United States.
- Allergic reaction
- Researchers at Glasgow Dental Hospital
who have been studying the disease, believe it may be sparked by an allergic
reaction to preservatives found in fizzy drinks as well as bacteria found
- An extensive study into the epidemic
has been conducted and experts now say that people living in the West of
Scotland have a genetic predisposition to developing the allergic reaction
with leads to the oral disease.
- The vast majority of those in the study
were found to have a marked sensitivity to the additives and preservatives
used in fizzy drinks.
- Oral Crohn's disease causes swelling
of the lips and facial tissue, a characteristic inflammation of the gums
and a cobblestone texture on the inside of the mouth.
- The symptoms are caused by an excess
of fluid building up in the tissues.
- Psychological damage
- Recent studies also show that children
suffer bullying and psychological damage as a result of their disfigurement.
- Professor David Wray, professor of oral
medicine at the dental hospital, said symptoms could be controlled by following
a strict diet.
- He said: "Fizzy drinks do not cause
the disease, the individual must have an underlying predisposition. But
if they are allergic, and they are then exposed to the allergen their lips
just blow up.
- "If they can stick to a strict diet
their appearance will dramatically improve. Although an expert could still
detect subtle changes to all intents they could make a complete recovery."
- Oral Crohn's Disease, officially known
as orofacial granulomatosis, was first discovered in 1969 although it was
only found in patients who also suffered from the more common Crohn's Disease
of the gut.
- However, the Glasgow scientists have
found that only 80 of their 440 patients have the disease in both the gut
and the mouth.