Pellagra Symptoms, Causes and More

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By errol
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Reviewed: dr. vanta
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. Piqué-Duran, E, et al. 'Pellagra: a Clinical, Histopathological, and Epidemiological Study of 7 Cases.' Actas Dermo-Sifiliograficas, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21737056
  • 2. S;, Savvidou. 'Pellagra: a Non-Eradicated Old Disease.' Clinics and Practice, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24847436/
  • 3. 'Pellagra' - American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD). www.aocd.org/page/Pellagra
  • 4. 'PELLAGRA' - WHO. www.who.int/nutrition/publications/en/pellagra/prevention/control.pdf
  • 5. 'Home.' Home - Libraries, library.uab.edu/locations/reynolds/collections/regional-history/pellagra/history
  • 6. 'Niacin – Vitamin B3.' The Nutrition Source, 6 July 2020, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/niacin-vitamin-b3/
  • 7. Prabhu, Dhanashree, et al. 'Pellagra a Review Exploring Causes and Mechanisms, Including Isoniazid‐Induced Pellagra.' Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2 Feb. 2021, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/phpp.12659
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Pellagra is a nutritional disorder resulting from niacin (vitamin B3) deficiency. The disorder is characterized by a skin rash that progresses to rough, hard scaly patches. Skin areas exposed to the sun or friction are generally affected first. It is sometimes referred to as 4D disease because of the four major signs and symptoms: diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia and death.5‘Home.’ Home - Libraries, library.uab.edu/locations/reynolds/collections/regional-history/pellagra/history

The term pellagra was derived from the Italian words pelle agra, which means sharp or rough skin. Primary pellagra is caused by severe niacin deficiency, while secondary pellagra occurs when the body can't absorb niacin.7Prabhu, Dhanashree, et al. ‘Pellagra a Review Exploring Causes and Mechanisms, Including Isoniazid‐Induced Pellagra.’ Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2 Feb. 2021, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/phpp.12659

Pellagra in History

The first recorded cases of pellagra occurred almost 250 years ago. Cases increased after maize discovered in America became a dietary staple in Europe. The disorder was a problem in Europe prior to WW2 and throughout Africa until the 1970s.5‘Home.’ Home - Libraries, library.uab.edu/locations/reynolds/collections/regional-history/pellagra/history

Pellagra was not prevalent in the Americas, even though maize was a dietary staple. Researchers believe that traditional preparation, such as treating maize with lime or wood ashes, increased amounts of niacin. These practices weren't used in Europe or Africa, so populations dependent on maize experienced chronic niacin deficiency.5‘Home.’ Home - Libraries, library.uab.edu/locations/reynolds/collections/regional-history/pellagra/history

Pellagra

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