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No scientific backing for albinos not to eat salt, dermatologist claims

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Dr Omotoyosi Ilesanmi, a dermatologist at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, claims that there is no scientific evidence to prove that the albino must not consume salt.

Ilesanmi told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Ilorin that the belief that consumption of salt was dangerous for the albino was myth and erroneous belief.

“I am aware that people say albinos should not consume salt, but there is nothing to prove it scientifically.

“There is no correlation between salt consumption by the albino and negative effect on them or their skin,” she said.

The dermatologist said the idea that consumption of salt by people with albinism was the cause of the burns they got on their skin was a myth.

She said that the only reason why people living with albinism would have skin burn was because of exposure to the sun.

Ilesanmi said that medically, there was nothing wrong with the consumption of salt by persons living with albinism.

She said salt consumption had become imperative for them because it was a very important dietary requirement and a person deficient in salt could end up with iodine deficiency that could cause goitre or hyponatremia — a condition characterised by low levels of sodium in the blood.

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Ilesanmi explained that people with albinism were encouraged to have a balanced diet with salt as an additive to cooked meals.

The consultant dermatologist refuted the belief that albinism was a curse, saying it was purely a genetic disorder.

Ilesanmi noted that albinism was a congenital disorder due to lack of melanin in the skin, eyes and hair and those with no melanin were called the albino while those with little melanin were called the albinoid.

Ilesanmi said that albinism occurred when the enzyme known as thyroxin was not found in an individual which made melanin not to be produced.

”It is an hypopigmentary disorder which is genetically inherited and it is due to lack of melanin in the skin because of some biochemical defects.

”Normally, the enzyme known as thyroxin with subsequent bio chemical reactions, forms melanin which is the pigment producing cells which is the pigment cell in the skin.

”When this biochemical reactions are stopped because thyroxins are not produced, and is not found in that individual, then melanin is not produced, this is the reason why they have white skin.

”They have melanocites but they are not able to produce melanin, which means many of them are thyroxinate deficient,” she said.

Ilesanmi said as at now there was no cure for albinism, but treatment included use of sunglasses to protect the eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays could relieve symptoms and prevent sun damage.

She added that skin care and prevention of skin cancer was also part of the treatment and it  included annual skin assessment to screen for skin cancer or lesions that could lead to cancer.

NAN reports that there are different types of albinism, but the term typically refers to two — oculocutaneous albinism and ocular albinism.

There are three types of oculocutaneous which are referred to as Type 1, Type 2 and OCA Type 3.(NAN)

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