August 24, 2018 – Cured Meats and Bipolar Disorder


Anchor lead: Cured meats may be linked to the mania phase of bipolar disorder, Elizabeth Tracey reports


People who are hospitalized for mania are more than three times as likely to have consumed cured meats, which are high in nitrates, than those without the psychiatric disorder, research by Robert Yolken, a professor of neurovirology at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues has shown. Yolken notes that a lot more research is needed to prove causation, but genes are likely involved.

Yolken: There’s probably a genetic predisposition or some other predisposition but it is just a predisposition. One can have one gene or a set of genes and go through life without any problems but if one throws an environmental factor on top of that then one might get the disease. We’re just starting to understand really how genes and environment interact in terms of some of these disorders. That probably explains why most people don’t really have to be worried about these types of exposures because if they don’t have the genes they’re not going to have the effect and of course many people eat these products without any problems. I think we have to identify the people at risk.   :29

Yolken says that some vegetables are also high in naturally occurring nitrates, and that some link with the gut microbiome also seems likely. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.