Dietary factors in epidemic neuropathy on the Isle of Youth, Cuba
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An epidemic neuropathy that broke out in late 1991 has exhibited clinical manifestations similar to those of other polyneuropathies of nutritional origin. To investigate its possible association with diet, a study was conducted on the Isle of Youth in 1993, at the start of an outbreak there. Thirthy-four subjects with cases and 65 controls were interviewed regarding their diets, measured anthropometrically, and evaluated. As a whole, the subjects with cases demonstrated greater weight loss before the onset of disease, lower body mass indexes (BMI), lower percentages of body fat, and more deficient diets than the control subjects. Analysis of individual variables found associations between occurrence of the disease and the following; weight loss, low BMI, a broad range of specific dietary deficiencies, a sugar intake exceeding 15 percent of total caloric intake, alcohol consumption, and smoking. Also protective associations were found between absence of the disease and regular consumption of certain foods at or above specified levels. Multivariate analysis indicated that while smoking and alcohol consumption reinforced the effects of the dietary deficiencies, they did not account for occurrence of the disease by themselves. Overall, the results indicate that diets which are deficient in caloric energy, protein, fat, and the micronutrients included in the study, and which reflect an imbalance resulting from a relative excess of sugar, with consequent effects on body weight, are strongly associated with, and causally related to, the occurrence of epidemic neuropathy in CubaThis article was also published in Spanish in the BOSP. Vol. 117(5), Nov. 1994
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