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March 4, 1933


JAMA. 1933;100(9):664-665. doi:10.1001/jama.1933.02740090036015

Apparently nature cannot always be induced to yield simple answers to legitimate scientific questions. After having been studied for twenty years in the clinic, the field and the laboratory, pellagra still remains a complicated problem. Its literature is too voluminous for any attempt at systematic or documented review. Space permits a mere glimpse at the diversity of the hypotheses that have been suggested. Is pellagra a nutritional deficiency or an infectious disease? The debate on this question, especially between the investigators of the Public Health Service on the one hand and of the Thompson-Macfadden Commission on the other, is well remembered. Jobling and Arnold, however, instead of an answer in terms of one theory, suggested a formulation that comprehends both views and something more beside. According to such an attitude, food faults open the way to an infective organism producing a substance which, more or less deleterious in any case,