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A recent study from the University of Florida has shown a link between rheumatoid arthritis and the bacteria that is found in milk and beef.

The bacteria in question is Mycobacterium avium subspecies, paratuberculosis (MAP) and carried by around 50% of cows in the United States. Humans can be infected by the bacteria when they consume products from these cows, i.e., beef or milk as well as any produce that has been fertilised using an infected cows manure.

It is believed by researchers that if you are already genetically at risk from rheumatoid arthritis, the consumption of these cow products can be the trigger for the onset of the long-term condition.

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The study was conducted using 100 participants, 78% of those who took part with rheumatoid arthritis were found to have the same genetic mutation as sufferers from Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is a condition known to be, in many cases, caused by consuming infected products from cows.

The Infectious Disease Specialist at the University of Florida, Saleh Naser, said ‘we believe that individuals born with this genetic mutation and who are later exposed to MAP through consuming contaminated milk or meat from infected cattle are at a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.’

Naser added, ‘understanding the role of MAP in rheumatoid arthritis means the disease could be treated more effectively.’

Rheumatologist Shazia Beg, who was also involved in the conduction of the study, said, ‘we don’t know the cause of rheumatoid arthritis, so we’re excited that we have found this association.’


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