Research shows probiotic strain prevents uptake of mercury and arsenic in children and pregnant women in Tanzania
New research shows probiotic yogurt can reduce the uptake of certain heavy metals and environmental toxins by up to 78% in pregnant women. Led by Scientists at Lawson Health Research Institute's Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotic Research, this study provides the first clinical evidence that a probiotic yogurt can be used to reduce the deadly health risks associated with mercury and arsenic.
Environmental toxins like mercury and arsenic are commonly found in drinking water and food products, especially fish. These contaminants are particularly high in areas where mining and agriculture are prevalent, and in the developing world where regulations for industrial activities are limited or poorly enforced.
Even at low levels, chronic exposure to heavy metals has been linked to certain cancers and delayed neurological and cognitive development in children. Yet in Canada, 15% of reproductive-aged women possess mercury levels that pose a high risk for neurodevelopmental abnormalities in their children.
Research suggests some naturally occurring bacteria in the body can influence toxic metal levels. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 is a probiotic strain that has already been used safely and effectively in yogurt in Canada with positive immune benefits. Previous lab research at Lawson showed it can also bind to heavy metals, but clinical research was needed to confirm whether this mechanism would prevent the body from absorbing them.
In the study, Dr. Gregor Reid, a Scientist at Lawson and Western University, and Jordan Bisanz and Megan Enos, trainees at Lawson and graduate students at Western, assessed 44 school-aged children and 60 pregnant women living in Mwanza, Tanzania near Lake Victoria. This area is known for having particularly high environmental pollution.
Tanzania is also home to a network of community yogurt kitchens previously set up with the scientists to provide a locally-sourced, low-cost source of nutrition. The goal of the study was to assess existing metal levels in the environment and participants' bodies, map their natural bacteria to identify any potential links to metal absorption, and determine whether the probiotic-supplemented yogurt could influence metal absorption.
The scientists found mercury and lead levels were up to seven times higher than what is typically found in Canadian children. Silver cyprinids, small fish consumed widely in the region, were found to contain especially high levels of mercury and arsenic. DNA sequencing identified two bacteria present in children with the highest concentrations of heavy metals, suggesting the presence of these bacteria may be linked to metal absorption.
After consuming the probiotic-supplemented yogurt, the children showed positive, but not statistically effective, results. The pregnant women showed more dramatic outcomes. The probiotic yogurt protected them from further uptake of mercury by up to 36% and arsenic by up to 78%.
"The findings are exciting for many reasons," says Dr. Reid, senior author on the publication. "First, they show a simple fermented food, easily made by resource disadvantaged communities, can provide benefits in addition to nutrition and immunity. Second, the results are relevant for many parts of the world, including Canada, where exposure to these toxins occurs daily. Finally, it confirms more attention needs to be paid to these toxins, especially in children and pregnant women."
"Seeing the children, you would never think they were walking around with such high levels of toxins," says Bisanz, the first author on the paper. "I hate to think of the consequences for them as they age. The children and pregnant women all loved the yogurt. If we could only scale up these yogurt kitchen concepts, the impact on quality of life could be massive."
This study was funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The study is published today in mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, available here: http://mbio.asm.org/content/5/5/e01580-14
Lawson Health Research Institute. As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care London, and working in partnership with Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care around the world. http://www.lawsonresearch.com
For more information, please contact:
Sonya Gilpin | Eurek Alert!
Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research