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50-year study into moose arthritis reveals link with early malnutrition

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  • 50-year study into moose arthritis reveals link with early malnutrition


    "[osteo-arthritis in moose] is a crippling disease and is identical to that found in humans. It is commonly believed to be caused by 'wear and tear,' but the complex causes have remained poorly understood." ... [it's] deadly as it prevents a moose from being able to kick or avoid a lunging wolf ...

    The team found moose that were malnourished when young would develop OA in older age.

    "We have shown how malnutrition early in life increased the risk of OA later in life, but this also applies to humans as much as to a herd of moose in the wild," said Peterson.

    "These findings cast new light on how early humans first developed OA," said co-author Dr Clark Spencer Larsen, an anthropology expert from Ohio University. "The study of human remains from archaeological contexts reveals OA increased where societies changed from foraging plants and animals to an increased dependency on farming."

    Such changes were documented in a mid-continental population of Native Americans 1000 years ago. In this group arthritis increased by 65% as society turned from foraging and hunting to agriculture and the cultivation of maize.

    "Initially the increase in OA was put down to increased joint stress due to the labour of agriculture. However research now shows that, like the moose in Isle Royale, nutritional deficiencies early in life may have been the main cause. ...

    End quote

    Wow! So perhaps it's not down to "wear and tear" after all. I can't say I'd be surprised to see that confirmed by further studies.

  • #2
    Interesting. Who knew moose had an osteoarthritis problem?


    • #3
      That is odd, because Larsen reached the exact opposite conclusion prior to this. See p. 88 of *Skeletons in Our Closet,* here: Skeletons in Our Closet: Revealing Our Past through Bioarchaeology (9780691092843): Clark Spencer Larsen: Books

      In this book, he seems to show that the transition to agriculture caused massive decreases in osteoarthritis, or at least that a decrease was associated with that transition.