CHINA / Odd News

Food sharing spreading disease?
(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-21 14:54

The next time you dip your chopsticks into a shared bowl of food, you may be picking up ulcer-causing bacteria along with the noodles and rice.

Senior Chinese scientists and a 2005 Nobel Prize winner yesterday suggested the possibility that sharing food with chopsticks could spread the bacterium H. pylori.

The comments came at a science lecture at the Shanghai Association for Science and Technology featuring a talk by Australian scientist Barry Marshall, co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology 2005.

Marshall is senior principal research fellow of University of Western Australia. He was awarded the prize for research demonstrating that stomach and peptic ulcers and inflammation of the stomach are caused by the H. pylori bacterium.

When a leading Shanghai scientist asked him about a possible link between gastric diseases and food sharing, Marshall said it was indeed possible, though so far there hasn't been any confirmation.

The question was raised by Wang Mingwei, pharmacologist and director of Shanghai-based Chinese National Center for Drug Screening. Wang noted that colleagues around the world have discussed that there could be a link between dipping chopsticks into shared food and the spread of the bacterium among people in Asia.

In an interview after the presentation, Zhao Guoping, executive director of the Chinese National Human Genome Research Center at Shanghai, told the Shanghai Daily, that published research reports have found that Asians do have a higher incidence of getting gastric diseases than Westerners.

He said when Easterners migrate to Western countries, after two or three generations, they will have a lower incidence of gastric disease.

Zhao suggests Asian eating habits may have something to do with it, but the link to eating style remains to be confirmed, he said.