This week's edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that foie gras prepared from goose or duck liver is linked to the mutated proteins that can cause rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and adult-onset diabetes.
Study author, the University of Tennessee's Alan Solomon, explained that such proteins form hair-like fibers, known as amyloids, which are deposited into vital organs like the heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas and brain. This process leads to organ failure and, eventually, death. The new research is the first to show that a food product can hasten amyloid development.
Foie gras is derived from the enlarged fatty livers of ducks and geese. Solomon found that commercially sold foie gras in the U.S. and France contained a type of amyloid called AA. Amyloid deposits are commonly found in waterfowl, but this condition is noticeably increased in force-fed birds. Worryingly, Solomon and his team concluded that this and perhaps other forms of amyloidosis might be transmissible, like "mad cow" and other related diseases.
"Our study looked at the existence of amyloid fibrils in foie gras and showed that it could accelerate the development of AA amyloidosis in susceptible mice. Perhaps people with a family history of Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or other amyloid-associated diseases should avoid consuming foie gras and other foods that may be contaminated with fibrils," said Solomon.
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Source: University of Tennessee at Knoxville