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How Food Poisoning Can Cause This Lifelong Disease

by
author image Tiffany Lin
Tiffany Lin has been a writer and editor since 2008. Her book reviews, news pieces and features have appeared in Cat Fancy, Dog World, Romantic Homes, Cottages & Bungalows, Chickens, Kittens USA and Urban Farm magazines. Lin is currently the Food & Drink and Nutrition Editor for LIVESTRONG.COM.
How Food Poisoning Can Cause This Lifelong Disease
Scientists find a new link between Crohn’s disease and food poisoning. Photo Credit mnikolaev/Adobe Stock

Stomach cramps. Nausea. Diarrhea. These are just some of the possible symptoms of food poisoning, a gut-wrenching illness that afflicts one in six Americans per year.

But scientists at the McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, have discovered yet another downside to this common ailment: Those who fall victim to food poisoning may retain bacteria in their gut that can later contribute to Crohn’s disease, reports ScienceDaily.

Affecting more than 780,000 Americans, Crohn’s is a debilitating, chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. It can cause persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and more, ultimately contributing to a loss of appetite and weight loss.

“This is a lifelong disease that often strikes people in their early years, leading to decades of suffering, an increased risk of colorectal cancer and an increased risk of premature death,” reports Brian Coombes, senior author of the study.

The researchers studied mice that had been infected by common food-poisoning bacteria. The authors found that even after the mice had eliminated the food-poisoning bacteria, they still displayed increased levels of adherent-invasive E. coli (AIEC) in their guts. And it’s this bacterium that has been linked to the development of Crohn’s over time.

The authors hope that their findings can spur the development of new diagnostic tools that can help treat and prevent Crohn’s. “We need to understand the root origins of this disease — and to use this information to invigorate a new pipeline of treatments and preventions,” says Coombes.

To reduce the risk of food poisoning, it’s important to practice safe food handling.
To reduce the risk of food poisoning, it’s important to practice safe food handling. Photo Credit aemstock/Adobe Stock

4 Ways to Help You Avoid Food Poisoning

And despite the prevalence of food poisoning, there are ways you can protect yourself. FoodSafety.gov provides important steps that you can take when prepping foods, including:

1. Avoiding washing meat, poultry or eggs in the sink, as this can transfer bacteria to your sink, countertops and other kitchen surfaces.

2. Investing in a food thermometer. When cooking meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, ensure that they reach a safe minimum internal temperature before serving.

3. Washing your hands with soap and running water before and after preparing food.

4. Preventing cross-contamination. Don’t place ready-to-eat food on surfaces that held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.

Read More: 11 Food-Safety Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

What Do YOU Think?

Have you or someone you’ve known experienced food poisoning before? Do you practice safe food handling? How do you feel about this new study that links food poisoning with Crohn’s disease? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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