A link between the consumption of dairy and rheumatoid arthritis has been found in a study conducted by the University of Central Florida. The College of Medicine researchers found that there is a connection with Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, otherwise known as MAP and the inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

MAP is a bacteria found in around half of the cows in the U.S and can be spread to humans though the consumption of infected milk or meat as well as produce that is fertilized with cow manure. The research was piloted by Saleh Naser, a UCF infectious disease specialist and Dr Shazia Bég, a rheumatologist at UCF’s physician practice, and Robert Sharp who is a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate.

Naser had previously made the connection between MAP and Crohn’s disease, and the link between Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis sharing the same genetic predispositions. Both conditions are often treated with the same drugs, and these similarities led to investigating the link between arthritis and dairy.

Naser said: “Here you have to inflammatory diseases, one affects the intestine and the other affects the joints, and both share the same genetic defect and treated with the same drugs. Do they have a common trigger? That was the question we raised and set out to investigate.”

To complete the research Bég asked 100 of her patients to volunteer for the study, with the results showing that 78 per cent of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis were found to have the same genetic mutation as that of patients with Crohn’s disease, and 40 per cent of those patients tested positive for MAP.

Speaking after discovering this link Bég said: “We don’t know the cause of rheumatoid arthritis, so we’re excited that we have found this association.

“But there is still a long way to go. We need to find out why MAP is more predominant in these patients — whether it’s present because they have RA, or whether it caused RA in these patients. If we find that out, then we can target treatment toward the MAP bacteria.”

The team are conducting further studies to explore this association between MAP and arthritis and Crohn’s disease.


Dairy Consumption

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