Navigation Links
Study documents eating of soil, raw starch in Madagascar
Date:11/9/2012

Pica -- craving and intentionally consuming nonfood substances, such as earth -- and amylophagy, eating raw starches -- are widespread among people around the world, including the U.S. Some 180 species of animals are also known to engage in pica, possibly to rid themselves of toxins.

A study appearing Oct. 17 in the online journal Public Library of Science One provides the first population-level data of pica in Madagascar. It is one of only a few studies to assess the consumption of earths, raw starches, chalk, ash and other nonfoods across men, women and children.

Study: http://bit.ly/RIhM4L

Pica has been documented throughout history; it was first referenced by Hippocrates in 400 B.C. Since then, there have been hundreds of ethnographic descriptions of pica and dozens of epidemiologic studies, mostly among pregnant women, with a few studies among children.

In contrast to prior studies, this one in northeastern Madagascar found a high prevalence of pica and amylophagy among men, with some 63 percent of adult males engaging in the behavior among the 760 participants from the Makira Protected Area. Also contrary to other findings, this survey, made in 2009, found no peak in pica and amylophagy among pregnant women, though only four pregnant women were sampled. Local taboos against talking about pregnancy prior to birth may have led to underreporting, according to the authors.

The findings for men and pregnant women in Madagascar "fly against much of what I know in terms of distribution" among members of a population, said Sera Young, a research scientist in Cornell University's Division of Nutritional Sciences and the paper's senior author. Young is also the author of the book, "Craving Earth: Understanding Pica -- the Urge to Eat Clay, Starch, Ice and Chalk" (2011).

Across the entire sample in the prior year, 53.4 percent engaged in geophagy, eating specific types of earth, including a fine white clay subsoil, fine sand and red river sediment; 85.2 percent ate such raw starches as raw cassava, raw sweet potato, uncooked rice and another local wild root; and 19 percent ate other items considered locally to be nonfood, including rock salt, used coffee grounds, charcoal, rice chaff, blackboard chalk and ash.

Pica has positive and negative consequences, making it an important public health concern, said Young.

On the positive side, clay-based pica may be protective, by coating the intestines or binding directly to toxins and pathogens, thereby preventing them from entering the blood, Young added. Clay also acts as an anti-diarrheal. Such protections may be especially beneficial to vulnerable populations like pregnant women and children. Another potential benefit is that earth-based pica may act like a multivitamin, adding micronutrients like iron or calcium to the diet, which may help explain why men consume it. However, the bioavailability of these micronutrients has been shown to be very low.

On the negative side, earth, starch or other pica substances could bind to iron in the diet, leading to or worsening anemia. Also, some raw starches are high in calories but are not nutritious. And some substances may contain pathogens or harmful chemicals.

"It could be a really harmful behavior, which causes anemia, for example, or it could be a low-tech protective behavior," said Young.


'/>"/>

Contact: Syl Kacapyr
vpk6@cornell.edu
607-255-7701
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
2. Law that regulates shark fishery is too liberal: UBC study
3. New study will help protect vulnerable birds from impacts of climate change
4. Study jointly led by UCSB researcher supports theory of extraterrestrial impact
5. BYU study: Using a gun in bear encounters doesnt make you safer
6. 15-year study: When it comes to creating wetlands, Mother Nature is in charge
7. Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract) shown to improve menopause symptoms in new study
8. Crystal structure of archael chromatin clarified in new study
9. EU-funded study underlines importance of Congo Basin for global climate and biodiversity
10. University of Houston study shows BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible
11. Study demonstrates cells can acquire new functions through transcriptional regulatory network
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/22/2016)... -- The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics was once ... one of the fastest-growing trade shows during the Fastest 50 ... Las Vegas . Winners ... each of the following categories: net square feet of paid ... The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked 23 out of ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... -- On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ... for the Biometric Exit Program. The Request for Information ... explains that CBP intends to add biometrics to confirm ... States , in order to deter visa overstays, ... Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382209LOGO ...
(Date:6/20/2016)... June 20, 2016 Securus Technologies, a ... solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring ... involved, it has secured the final acceptance by ... for Managed Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus ... to be installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... HOUSTON , June 23, 2016 ... agreement with the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve ... of the agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide ... education and connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes ... partner with the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, ... of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design ... of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. , The ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Andrew D Zelenetz ... Published recently in Oncology ... touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D Zelenetz , discusses the ... is placing an increasing burden on healthcare systems ... With the patents on many biologics expiring, interest ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... FRANCISCO , June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... sponsorship of the QB3@953 life sciences incubator ... human health. The shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was ... overcome a key obstacle for many early stage organizations ... part of the sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden ...
Breaking Biology Technology: