His findings, published online in Applied and Environmental Biology, shattered a myth started by a 2010 article in the journal Science, claiming the Trogia venenata mushroom contained high concentrations of the metal barium, causing high blood pressure, cardiac arrests and sudden deaths in southwestern China over the past 30 years. The deaths mainly occurred in small villages, some of which saw nearly one-third of their population perish quickly.
“Although there was no published evidence supporting the theory that barium in the T. venenata mushroom was the leading culprit of what was called Sudden Unexplained Death (SUD), it was picked up as a fact by almost all of the major news media,” said Xu, associate professor of biology and a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University. “These reports caused significant concern among the public about potentially high levels of barium in wild edible mushrooms in southwest China.”
Every summer since 2009, Xu and his team have travelled across the Yunnan province, collecting fruiting bodies of T. venenata as well as other mushrooms from villages severely impacted by these deaths.
Researchers tested the mushrooms and found the barium concentration was so low it would require a person weighing 150 pounds to consume at least 35 kg of dried T. venenata for it to be lethal. In fact, the barium concentration in these mushrooms is the same as in common foods, such as fresh meat and poultry.
The majority of SUDs, since 1978 in Yunnan Province, occurred in apparently healthy people, mostly young females, during the rainy season from June to August.
While previous studies suggested certain mushrooms could accumulate heavy metals, there was no information about high levels of barium in wild edible mushrooms. The speculation and subsequent media reports generated significant concern among health officials, the general public and all levels of government and severely impacted the economy by affecting trade of many wild, edible Chinese mushrooms, such as Matsutake, truffles, morels and Chanterelles.
Although Xu’s results show these mushrooms contain low levels of barium, he says barium can’t be ruled out as a contributor to the deaths, given that high levels of barium were found in the blood, urine and hair samples of some of the victims. Yet, his study does suggest that barium in mushrooms was unlikely the leading cause. “Though there are a couple of leads,” he said, “further investigation is needed to discover what the true cause was for these mysterious deaths.”
Read Jianping Xu’s study online: http://bit.ly/TR9lVl
Download photos at http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/media/killer_mushroom/
For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact:
Faculty of Health Sciences
905-525-9140, ext. 22169
Veronica McGuire | Source: Newswise
Further information: www.mcmaster.ca
More articles from Studies and Analyses:
Footwear’s (carbon) footprint
23.05.2013 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Rate of bicycle-related fatalities significantly lower in states with helmet laws
23.05.2013 | Boston Children's Hospital
This morning at 05:45 CEST, the earth trembled beneath the Okhotsk Sea in the Pacific Northwest. The quake, with a magnitude of 8.2, took place at an exceptional depth of 605 kilometers.
Because of the great depth of the earthquake a tsunami is not expected and there should also be no major damage due to shaking.
Professor Frederik Tilmann of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences: "The epicenter is exceptionally deep, far below the earth's crust in the mantle. Such strong ...
The Ring Nebula's distinctive shape makes it a popular illustration for astronomy books. But new observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of the glowing gas shroud around an old, dying, sun-like star reveal a new twist.
"The nebula is not like a bagel, but rather, it's like a jelly doughnut, because it's filled with material in the middle," said C. Robert O'Dell of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
He leads a research team that used Hubble and several ground-based telescopes to obtain the best view yet of ...
New indicator molecules visualise the activation of auto-aggressive T cells in the body as never before
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to examine individual cells and their activity directly in the tissue.
The development of new microscopes and fluorescent dyes in ...
A fried breakfast food popular in Spain provided the inspiration for the development of doughnut-shaped droplets that may provide scientists with a new approach for studying fundamental issues in physics, mathematics and materials.
The doughnut-shaped droplets, a shape known as toroidal, are formed from two dissimilar liquids using a simple rotating stage and an injection needle. About a millimeter in overall size, the droplets are produced individually, their shapes maintained by a surrounding springy material made of polymers.
Droplets in this toroidal shape made ...
Frauhofer FEP will present a novel roll-to-roll manufacturing process for high-barriers and functional films for flexible displays at the SID DisplayWeek 2013 in Vancouver – the International showcase for the Display Industry.
Displays that are flexible and paper thin at the same time?! What might still seem like science fiction will be a major topic at the SID Display Week 2013 that currently takes place in Vancouver in Canada.
High manufacturing cost and a short lifetime are still a major obstacle on ...
24.05.2013 | Life Sciences
24.05.2013 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2013 | Physics and Astronomy
17.05.2013 | Event News
15.05.2013 | Event News
08.05.2013 | Event News