Friday January 24, 2020

Food Additive in Frozen Meat, Crackers Worsens Flu, Say Researchers

The study will be presented at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting in Orlando

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Tuna
A prospective buyer inspects the quality of a frozen tuna before the first auction of the year at the newly opened Toyosu Market, new site of Tokyo's fish market, in Tokyo, Jan. 5, 2019. VOA

A common food additive found in many products, including frozen meat, crackers and fried foods, could weaken the human immune system against flu, which accounts for 290,000-650,000 deaths globally every year, say researchers.

Besides increasing the severity of flu symptoms, the study found exposure to the compound — tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) — could reduce effectiveness of flu vaccine through its effects on T cells, a vital component of the immune system.

During the study, mice fed tBHQ-spiked diet were slower to activate both helper T cells and killer T cells, causing slower clearance of the virus.

“Our studies showed mice on a tBHQ diet had a weakened immune response to influenza (flu) infection,” said Robert Freeborn, postdoctoral candidate at the Michigan State University.

“In our mouse model, tBHQ suppressed function of helper and killer T cells. It led to more severe symptoms during a subsequent influenza infection,” Freeborn said.

A Food Store. Pixabay

When the mice were re-infected with a different but related strain of influenza, those on the tBHQ diet had a longer illness and lost more weight. This suggests that tBHQ impaired the “memory response” that typically primes the immune system to fight a second infection, Freeborn said.

tBHQ is an additive used to prevent spoilage, with a maximum allowed concentration of 200 parts per million in food products.

Since tBHQ is not always listed on ingredient labels, the best way to limit tBHQ exposure is to be conscious about food choices. A low-fat diet and less consumption of processed snacks will help reduce tBHQ consumption, he suggested.

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Annual flu shot significantly reduces the length and severity of the illness and prevents influenza infection.

The study will be presented at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual meeting in Orlando. (IANS)

Next Story

Full Vaccination of Children Reduces the Risk of Hospitalisation: Study

Full flu vaccination cuts child hospitalisations in half

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Hospitalisation
Researchers have found that fully vaccinated children reduced the risk of hospitalisation for complications associated with influenza by 54 per cent. Pixabay

According to a latest health news researchers have found that fully vaccinated children reduced the risk of hospitalisation for complications associated with influenza by 54 per cent.

The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Disease, tested the effectiveness of childhood vaccination against influenza and risk of hospitalisation due to influenza complications.

In Israel, as in the US, government guidelines recommend that children aged 8 or younger who have never been vaccinated, or who have only had one dose of flu vaccine previously, should receive two doses of vaccine.

“Children vaccinated according to government guidelines are much better protected from influenza than those who only receive one vaccine, said study lead author Hannah Segaloff from University of Michigan in the US.

According to the researchers, over half of our study population had underlying conditions that may put them at high risk for severe influenza-related complications, so preventing influenza in this group is critically important.

Hospitalisation
Young children who aren’t vaccinated are at high risk of hospitalisation due to influenza complications. Pixabay

“Our results also showed that the vaccine was effective in three different seasons with different circulating viruses, reinforcing the importance of getting an influenza vaccine every year no matter what virus is circulating,” Hannah said.

The retrospective study used data from Clalit Health Services, the largest health fund in Israel, to review the vaccination data of 3,746 hospitalisations of children 6 months to 8 years old at six hospitals in Israel. They were tested for influenza over three winter seasons 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Not only do the findings reveal that the flu vaccine reduced hospitalizations associated with the flu by 54 per cent, but they show that giving two vaccine doses to children up to age 8 who have never been vaccinated or only received one dose previously is more effective than administering one dose, in accordance with the Israel Ministry of Health recommendations.

“Young children are at high risk of hospitalisation due to influenza complications. Children with underlying illnesses such as asthma and heart disease have an even greater risk of getting the complications. It is important to prevent influenza infections in these populations,” said study co-author Mark Katz, from The Clalit Research Institute in Israel.

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The findings support health organisations’ recommendations to vaccinate children against influenza every year, preferably before the onset of winter or early childhood. Children under 5 are defined as having a high risk of influenza complications, the researchers said. (IANS)