New York: People with a family history of Alzheimer’s have been warned not to eat the duck liver delicacy foie gras.
A study by researchers at the University of Tennessee Medical School have found that the foie gras contains proteins known as “amyloids” plaques which have been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s. These proteins may also be implicated in type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
The scientists who carried out the study on mice and found that feeding them foie gras started growing amyloid proteins in various organs. They observed a similar result when extract of foie gras was injected into the rodents’ bloodstream.
Alan Solomon, an expert in amyloid-related diseases at the University of Tennessee, who led the research said: “It may be hazardous for individuals who are prone to develop other types of amyloid-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s or type 2 diabetes to consume such products.”
Foie gras is a food that has provoked much controversy because of the way food is forced down the birds’ throats so that their livers grow to a larger size. A liver weighing around 310g can fetch £60.
Amyloid disease occurs when proteins that would normally be soluble undergo a change and become insoluable, damaging the way organs work. Although further studies are needed it may be that eating foods that already contain them is not a healthy option.
The number of sufferers of dementia and Alzheimer’s is growing as people continue to live longer. In Britain, out of a population of 60m, there are already 700,000 people with dementia. France, with a similar population, has 1m sufferers.