Poor diet sees scurvy reap­pear in Aus­tralia

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SCURVY, a dis­ease his­tor­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with old-world sailors on long voy­ages, is mak­ing a sur­prise come­back in Aus­tralia with health of­fi­cials yes­ter­day re­veal­ing a spate of cases.

Caused by Vi­ta­min C de­fi­ciency, it used to be a com­mon, of­ten fa­tal, curse among sea­far­ers who went months with­out fruit and veg­eta­bles.

Now con­sid­ered rare, it is reap­pear­ing due to poor di­etary habits, said Jenny Gun­ton, who heads the Cen­tre for Di­a­betes, Obe­sity and En­docrinol­ogy re­search at the West­mead In­sti­tute in Syd­ney.

She dis­cov­ered the dis­ease after sev­eral of her pa­tients with wounds failed to heal.

“When I asked about their diet, one was eat­ing lit­tle or no fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles while the rest ate fair amounts of veg­eta­bles but were over­cook­ing them, which de­stroys the Vi­ta­min C,” she said.

The scurvy di­ag­no­sis for 12 pa­tients was made based on blood tests and symp­toms, with all cured by a sim­ple course of Vi­ta­min C.

A lack of Vi­ta­min C can lead to de­fec­tive for­ma­tion of col­la­gen and con­nec­tive tis­sues, which can cause bruis­ing, bleed­ing gums, blood spots in the skin, joint pain and im­paired wound heal­ing.

Com­mon foods that keep scurvy at bay in­clude or­anges, straw­ber­ries, broc­coli, kiwi fruit, bell pep­pers and grape­fruit, but over­cook­ing can de­stroy key nu­tri­ents.

Ms Gun­ton, who pub­lished a re­search pa­per on the resur­gence of scurvy in the in­ter­na­tional jour­nal Di­a­betic Medicine, said pa­tients could be over­weight or obese and still have the con­di­tion.

Health au­thor­i­ties tend not to test for scurvy th­ese days and Ms Gun­ton’s study ad­vised clin­i­cians to be alert to the po­ten­tial prob­lem es­pe­cially in di­a­betes pa­tients. –

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