Question - What are the adverse health effects that might arise in populations dependent upon cassava as a dietary mainstay?
Answer-The cited article notes “Cassava crops are resistant to drought, pests, and diseases, making cassava invaluable for food security, especially in areas plagued by food shortages. Approximately 600 million tropical residents, half of whom live in Africa, rely on cassava as their main food source. Acute cyanide poisoning, often with fatal consequences, can occur after eating a large amount of cassava, especially in communities dependent on a monotonous cassava diet. Recurrent exposure to nonlethal concentrations through a monotonous cassava-based diet leads to long-term effects, including paralytic diseases such as tropical ataxic neuropathy and konzo, a neurologic disease characterized by sudden onset of irreversible, non-progressive spastic paralysis. In sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Uganda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, thousands of persons might have experienced cyanide poisoning from cassava, but the full extent of the problem remains unknown because reliable data are lacking.” (Alitubeera PH et al. Outbreak of cyanide poisoning caused by consumption of cassava flour-Kasese District, Uganda, September 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:308-311)