Black salt, black tea may cause fluorosis poisoning

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Black salt, black tea may cause fluorosis poisoning

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Black salt, black tea may cause fluorosis poisoning

ZeeNews - December 31, 2006

If you thought unsafe water alone caused fluorosis poisoning, think again.

Black salt and black tea are equally dangerous, an ongoing study has shown.

Consuming them means not only bone and joint pain, anaemia, fatigue
and blockage of blood vessels but also destruction of the stomach and
intestinal lining.

For pregnant women, consuming tangy tasting black salt could mean
giving birth to a low-weight child who would attract diseases fast.
On occasions, the baby's organs may not be properly developed, the
study has shown.

These findings are part of the ongoing study conducted by A K
Susheela, executive director of Fluorosis Research and Rural
Development Foundation, who analysed expecting mothers at Deen Dayal
Upadhyay Hospital in west Delhi.

"When we ruled out that unsafe water was not the cause for pregnant
women being anaemic, we turned to what they were consuming," she

"We found they were drinking black tea and eating ready- made spices,
chat-papri, namkeens and pickles that contain black salt," she said.

"A further probe showed they were using ready-made spices, canned
fruit juices, pickles and namkeens -- all laced with black salt. What
alarmed us was when women who were not advised about not continuing
black salt gave birth to low-weight children," she said.

Due to the importance of the findings, the department of science and
technology, which funded the project, is holding a meeting on January
four to discuss the effects of fluorosis poisioning due to food on
pregnant women and unborn children.

"Maternal mortality rate is high in India because of anaemia. Some
die on the operating table if there is a complication because they
don't get blood," Susheela said. Susheela's assistant for the
project, gynaecologist Kamla Ganesh said 1,700 pregnant women were
screened during the nearly two-year-long study.

"Around 1,700 women, who were 20 weeks into their pregnancy, were
selected on the basis of their having haemoglobin less than nine
grams. A urine test was conducted to detect fluoride poisoning in
them," she said.

"Those with poisoning were divided into two groups -- one that was
advised to avoid food that had black salt and black tea and the other
which was not given any suggestions." The researchers followed the
progress of the women in both the groups till they gave birth.

"The group which was not given any dietary advice was found to be
anaemic and they also complained about constipation and weakness. The
children born of women in this group were all below 2.5 kg, while
children of those who were given advice were healthy," Ganesh said.

Even pregnant women who were not detected with fluoride poisoning
were found to be giving birth to not-so-healthy children, she said.

Susheela said the study assumes importance because the government has
been concerned about pregnancy-related anaemia among women who gave
birth to low-weight childen.

"Women are dying of anaemia. Tackling anaemia is important," she
said. "The government has been providing would-be mothers iron and
folic acid tablets for the past 30 years. But it has not made any

"If changing their diet could make them healthy, then why not?
Doctors have always thought pregnant women attending ante-natal
clinics were not regular with the tablets and did not know it is all
due to black salt," Susheela said. Not waiting for the final results
that are expected next year, the ministry thought of taking the
advice of experts on the study. The department of science and
technology's women's scheme officer said, "We have called a meeting
on January 4 to study the interim report." The meeting will be
attended by 14 others, including officials of the health ministry,
ministry of women and child development, Indian Council of Medical
Research and gynaecologists, obstetricians and paediatricians.

"We want the expert group to look into the findings. We have asked
two other institutes to look into the nature of the composition of
black salt in fast foods," the officer said.

"We will view the ramifications and what (Susheela) has suggested is
not so complex, one has to just tell the pregnant women not to eat
certain foods." Susheela said apart from pregnant women, the experts
advised the entire family about the harmful effects of black salt.

"People like seasoning on their food and black salt is tangy and adds
taste to food. Even when women fast they eat their food sprinkled
with black salt so that they get some taste. Also people should not
drink tea without milk," she said.

Susheela, who has been working on fluoride poisioning since the 1990s
when she was at AIIMS, said her earlier study in the Palam area had
shown that unsafe water was the cause of the phenomenon. "I suggested
some changes and the Delhi Jal Board was quick enough to provide
better water. So I knew water was not the culprit. When someone
suggested that I should work with anaemic pregnant women and find
whether they were suffering from fluoride poisoning, I accepted it,"
she said.

She said detecting fluoride poisoning is difficult. "It is important
to diagnose the disease. Doctors get confused when they get patients
who complain about stomach and joint pains. But no hospital is
interested in buying the testing equipment that costs only Rs 1
lakh," she said.

Her first study, carried out on animals, showed how unsafe water
ruins stomach, destroys the intestinal lining and causes wounds in
the stomach that are detected only though endoscopy.

"I carried out the tests on animals to prove fluoride poisoning due
to unsafe water. The study was published in an international journal.
Seeing the importance of fluoride poisoning, I carried my research
further," she said.

SOURCE: ... NV&ssid=28
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