Tuberculosis is the most deadly infectious disease in the world, killing 1.8 million people in 2015 alone, yet little is known about why exposure to the airborne disease sickens some people and not others.
Harvard researchers think diet may be key to TB transmission. According to an article published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in May, people with low levels of vitamin A were at least 10 times more likely to develop TB after exposure to the disease than those with higher levels. Increasing consumption of vitamin A—found in carrots, sweet potatoes, dairy, meat, and supplements—could be a powerful tool in disease prevention.
Dr. Megan Murray, the Ronda Stryker and William Johnston Professor of Global Health at Harvard Medical School, and her team of investigators discovered this link as part of an epidemiological study of TB among people living in Carabayllo and surrounding districts north of Lima, Peru. Staff from Socios En Salud, as Partners In Health is known locally, were essential for recruitment, patient follow-through, and blood sample collection and analysis of the 12,000 participants over five years.