Natto allergy caused by jellyfish stings, says Japanese study

By Fran Wrigley, RocketNews24

Surfers could be at greater risk of developing an allergy to natto, a Japanese study has found. And the unlikely culprit is thought to be jellyfish stings.

Natto, the sticky fermented soy beans that are as as polarising as Marmite, is a traditional and common Japanese food. Allergy to natto is rare, but research from Yokohama City University Hospital suggests it could be more prevalent in people who spend a lot of time in the water and have been repeatedly stung by jellyfish.

Dr Naoko Inomata at Yokohama City University Hospital studied the lifestyle habits and sporting history of 18 patients who had been treated for natto allergy at the hospital’s Department of Dermatology since 2004. Of the natto allergy patients, 12 were surfers, two were scuba divers, and one was a professional diver. That means over 80 percent of the (admittedly small) study group regularly spent long amounts of time in the ocean.

So what’s causing people who spent time in the ocean to become allergic to natto? Well, the substance that gives natto its unique stickiness is polyglutamic acid, which is also found in jellyfish tentacles. So, Dr Inomata believes that repeated stings by jellyfish could cause more surfers and divers to develop natto allergy. “So, if it’s thought that a patient is allergic to natto, doctors should find out if they do marine sports,” she said.

Sources: Yomiuri yomidr, zaeega

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- The Fermented Soy Cheesecake Challenge -- Genetically altered rice could solve Japan’s pollen allergy problem -- Toast with fermented soybeans and honey may not be good-looking, but it is good eating

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I love surfing and detest Natto. So no loss there for me!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I don't surf nut hate natto.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't surf but I love natto.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Interesting information.

I admit, I'm not a fan of natto even though I know it's supposed to be extremely healthy. I can tolerate the smell and taste, but I just can't get over the way it looks. It's like a whole bunch of people infected with the cold snorted up the beans, left them in their sinus cavities for a few weeks, and then ejected them back out. It's really not appetizing.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Ferngully thanks for that image. Sjeesh, keep that information to yourself next time. puts bowl of natto back in fridge

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I like natto, and it's great for your blood.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Natto is lovely. I honestly can't understand why so many foreigners hate it.

It both tastes really good and is quite healthy.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

If food has to look delicious to be eaten then monjayaki must surely be out as well. Even an Indian curry looks... unappealing. But they taste amazing and so they are popular. I never understood the smell, or taste effect that Natto has on most foreigners. Granted, i dont like it without the dashi/karashi, but once that is mixed in its not much different to any other beans... A bit slimy (so is Okra). Maybe it is because when it was introduced to me i had never heard of its reputation? It was just given to me in a bowl with rice and i was told that you eat it with rice and that i needed to air-swirl my chopsticks to deal wit the stringiness.

Hope i dont get stung by those jellyfish.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Saying surfers are at greater risk of allergy to natto is using basically the same logic as saying people who eat ice cream are more likely to be attacked by sharks.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

A great man once intoned, "Ask natto what your country can do for you..."

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Allow me to have doubts against the "scientificity" of this study ... The population targeted by this study is from Yokohama, therefore with a higher chance to be involved in marine activities. A good comparison would be a similar group of allergic people, but coming from the mountains of Central Japan. That would an interesting case study comparison, and not an Obokata-style assessment.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love natto. I hate jellyfish.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's nothing to do with jellyfish. It's the vomit like smell that does it.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Been stung tree times. Love the ocean, don't mind jellyfish, hate natto.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Allow me to have doubts against the "scientificity" of this study .

I doubt it's designed to be scientific, it's only a sample size of 18 after all.

It sounds more like this doctor was providing anecdotal information, that's all.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

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