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Leprosy

Nutrition in leprosy: a review.

Foster RL; Sanchez AL; Stuyvesant W; Foster FN; Small C; Lau BH
Int J Lepr Other Mycobact Dis 1988 Mar;56(1):66-81

The literature relating diet to leprosy is abundant between 1900 and 1960, peaking around 1940. Dietary factors that appear to influence the etiopathogenesis of Hansen's disease include: vitamin A, vitamin B group, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, calcium, and zinc. We noted a frequent lack of detailed dietary data in much of the literature cited. This is particularly true when the thrust of the investigation is not dietary. The literature strongly suggests the beneficial influence of adequate diet on the outcome of Hansen's disease and the deleterious effect of a deficient diet. In contrast with the paucity of reported hard data in the previous reviews concerned with the effect of nutrition and diet on leprosy, is the increasing volume of literature reviews and experimental studies showing the profound impact of nutrition and diet on the immune system of man and laboratory animals. That diet has a global, if poorly understood, effect on the immune system is being increasingly recognized. The difficult question that remains is how to use this information in the control and prevention of disease. Therefore, we believe that more emphasis should be given to diet in the study of this important worldwide disease in light of the current understanding of biochemistry and immunology.

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