Leading Scientist and Action Research welcome longer milk pasteurisation
6 December 2001
A leading Crohn’s Disease scientist, who is supported by medical research charity Action Research, welcomes today’s news that the Food Standards Agency could change the way milk is processed in an effort to destroy the bug linked to Crohn’s Disease - MAP (mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis).
John Hermon-Taylor, Professor of Surgery at St George's Hospital said “This is welcome news. Research in our own labs, supported by Action Research and the Medical Research Council, has shown unequivocally that MAP is present in the inflamed gut of the overwhelming majority of people with Crohn’s Disease and rarely in people without showing signs of the disease.”
The Professor emphasised that MAP is a bug that causes this type of chronic inflammation of the intestine in many different species of animals including primates.
He continued “It is almost certain that MAP is causing the same type of problems in humans with Crohn’s Disease. Furthermore drugs that can kill MAP can heal Crohn’s Disease”.
Action Research is funding Professor Hermon-Taylor’s work into a vaccine to treat MAP-infected Crohn’s Disease sufferers. The vaccine aims to produce immunity to the bacterium.
The UK government’s own research confirmed that the bacterium is found in retail milk and is not killed by normal pasteurisation methods. John Grounds, Communications Director of Action Research said: “We have been steadfastly supporting research into Crohn's disease for many years and are delighted that the government seems to be taking action.”
Crohn's disease ruins the lives of sufferers and represents one of the major unsolved problems of modern medicine.
A chronic inflammation of the intestine, the disease's symptoms include chronic diarrhoea, daily abdominal pain, weight loss, extreme tiredness and psychological problems.
It is believed that the disease severely affects up to 80,000 people in the UK. It is thought that there are 4000 - 8000 new cases every year.
These figures are estimates and will remain estimates until the government makes the disease notifiable (i.e. requires the collection of statistics upon diagnosis).
Action Research does not recommend that anyone stops drinking milk. However for those individuals with Crohn's disease or their close relatives, who may feel particularly at risk, it may be sensible to start drinking UHT milk. As UHT involves higher pasteurisation temperatures, it is probable that MAP is destroyed.
MAP has a low level of infectivity and is tolerated by the vast majority of people with no ill effects. Factors involved in developing Crohn's Disease also include an inherited susceptibility, co-incidental infection (gastro-enteritis or multi-viral infections in childhood) and also psychological conditions and stress, both which make people (and animals) vulnerable to disease.
MAP is known to cause Johne's disease, a chronic intestinal inflammation, which affects cattle, sheep and many other species including primates, in the same way that Crohn's affects humans. The symptoms of Johne's are acute weight loss and usually diarrhoea.
Action Research’s website http://www.action.org.uk/crohns has further detailed information on notification, MAP and our campaign into Crohn’s Disease.
For more information please call Mike Deyes at Action Research on 01403 327429.
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