Study sees main road link to asthma risk

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health -

TRAF­FIC fumes may be just an­noy­ing to most of us, but in chil­dren al­ready at in­creased risk of asthma such pol­lu­tion could be enough to bring on the dis­ease. In a new study in the med­i­cal jour­nal Tho­rax , sci­en­tists col­lected mouth-swab DNA sam­ples from 3124 chil­dren aged 10 to 16. They looked for vari­a­tions in genes that help clear the body of the harm­ful air pol­lu­tants known as pol­yaro­matic hy­dro­car­bons (PAH). Chil­dren whose genes re­sulted in ac­tive clear­ance of PAH were up to four times more likely to suf­fer from asthma as those with very low clear­ance ac­tiv­ity. From maps, the dis­tance be­tween each child’s house and the near­est ma­jor road was cal­cu­lated. Among chil­dren with ac­tive PAH clear­ance, those who lived less than 75m from a main road were up to nine times more likely to have asthma as those who lived fur­ther away. Tho­rax 2007;doi:10.1136/thx.2007.080127 (Salam MT, et al) WOM­EN­with de­men­tia start los­ing weight at least 10 years be­fore the dis­ease is di­ag­nosed, says a study pub­lished in the cur­rent is­sue of Neu­rol­ogy , mak­ing weight an im­por­tant fac­tor to mon­i­tor in older adults. Re­searchers ex­am­ined the records of 481 peo­ple with de­men­tia and 481 peo­ple of the same age and gen­der who did not have de­men­tia. Be­tween 21 and 30 years be­fore de­men­tia was di­ag­nosed, the av­er­age body weight was the same in both groups. But the women who would later de­velop de­men­tia started los­ing weight up to 20 years be­fore the dis­ease was di­ag­nosed. On av­er­age, those with de­men­tia weighed 5.4kg less than those with­out the dis­ease in the year of di­ag­no­sis. The au­thors sug­gest that weight loss may be due to the ap­a­thy, loss of ini­tia­tive and de­creased sense of smell that can oc­cur in the very early stages of de­men­tia. Neu­rol­ogy 2007;69:739-746 (Knop­man DS, et al) DI­ETS high in the nu­tri­ent choline may in­crease the risk of col­orec­tal polyps — out­growths of tis­sue that can some­times lead to col­orec­tal can­cer — ac­cord­ing to a new study in the Jour­naloftheNa­tion­alCancer In­sti­tute . Ma­jor food sources of choline in­clude red meat, eggs, poul­try, and dairy prod­ucts. Re­searchers sent diet sur­veys to 39,246 women en­rolled in the Nurses’ Health Study ev­ery two to four years from 1984 to 2002. They then es­ti­mated the choline con­tent in their di­ets. Dur­ing the study pe­riod there were 2408 cases of polyps. Greater amounts of choline in the diet were as­so­ci­ated with an in­creased risk of col­orec­tal polyps. Com­pared to those con­sum­ing the low­est lev­els of choline, those in the top 20 per cent for choline con­sump­tion were 45 per cent more likely to have col­orec­tal polyps. J Natl Can­cer Inst 2007;99:1224-1231 (Cho E, et al) SOME or­gan trans­plant pa­tients could live free from anti-re­jec­tion drugs, with sci­en­tists find­ing a way to iden­tify those most likely to stay healthy with­out med­i­ca­tion. Re­searchers took blood sam­ples from 16 healthy vol­un­teers and three groups of kid­ney trans­plant pa­tients — 22 pa­tients on anti- re­jec­tion drugs that were work­ing suc­cess­fully, 36 pa­tients on anti-re­jec­tion drugs that were not work­ing, and 17 ‘‘ tol­er­ant’’ peo­ple who had stopped tak­ing their med­i­ca­tion with no sign of or­gan re­jec­tion. Us­ing gene chip (mi­croar­ray) tech­nol­ogy, re­searchers com­pared the genes present in the blood sam­ples and found that the ex­pres­sion pat­tern of 33 genes was shared by 90 per cent of the tol­er­ant pa­tients. The find­ings, pub­lished in the Pro­ceed­ing­softhe Na­tion­alA­cade­my­ofS­ciences , sug­gest that pa­tients reg­u­larly tak­ing anti-re­jec­tion drugs who have the same pat­tern of tol­er­ance genes may be able to safely re­duce or even stop tak­ing their med­i­ca­tion. And just as im­por­tantly, those who don’t share the gene pat­tern should be en­cour­aged to con­tinue tak­ing the drugs. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2007; 104 (Sar­wal M, et al) BROC­COLI and its rel­a­tives could have the power to boost the im­mune sys­tem and even fight can­cer, ac­cord­ing to new re­search in the Jour­nalofNutri­tion­alBio­chem­istry . One of the ac­tive in­gre­di­ents in broc­coli, cab­bage and kale (an­other type of cab­bage) is 3,3’-di­in­dolyl­methane or DIM. Re­searchers fed DIM to mice at a high con­cen­tra­tion of 30mg per kilo­gram of body weight and found that it in­creased blood lev­els of a num­ber of cy­tokines — pro­teins that drive the im­mune sys­tem — in­clud­ing in­ter­leukin-6, gran­u­lo­cyte colony-stim­u­lat­ing fac­tor, in­ter­leukin-12 and in­ter­feron-gamma. Mice were also in­fected with re­oviruses, which live in the in­testines but are not life-threat­en­ing. Mice that were given an oral dose of DIM were much bet­ter at clear­ing the virus from their gut com­pared to those that had not been fed DIM. The au­thors sug­gest that th­ese ef­fects on the im­mune sys­tem could also pro­tect against can­cer. J Nutr Biochem 2007;doi:10.1016/j.jnut­bio.2007.05.004 (Xue L, et al) AL­CO­HOL con­sump­tion could lead to faster dis­ease pro­gres­sion in pa­tients with HIV (hu­man im­mun­od­e­fi­ciency virus), con­cludes a new study in the Jour­nal of Ac­quired Im­mune De­fi­ciency Syn­dromes . Al­co­hol use is com­mon among HIV-in­fected per­sons, say the au­thors. They as­sessed al­co­hol con­sump­tion, virus lev­els and CD4 T cell num­bers (a mea­sure of virus ac­tiv­ity) in 595 HIV-in­fected pa­tients with al­co­hol prob­lems. Among those who were not tak­ing anti-retro­vi­ral ther­apy (ART), heavy drink­ing was as­so­ci­ated with a lower CD4 T cell count, in­di­cat­ing more se­vere dis­ease. The same did not hold true for those tak­ing anti-retro­vi­ral drugs. Ac­cord­ing to the au­thors, the find­ings sug­gest that HIVin­fected per­sons who drink heav­ily and are not on ART might de­crease their risk of dis­ease pro­gres­sion if they ab­stain from al­co­hol use. JAIDS 2007;doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e31814 2aabb (Samet JH, et al) Want to know more? Items are ref­er­enced where pos­si­ble. A ref­er­ence such as ‘‘ 2007;35:18-25’’ means the source ar­ti­cle was pub­lished on pages 18-25 in vol­ume num­ber 35 of the pub­li­ca­tion, in 2007. A doi num­ber or web­site ad­dress is used for re­search pub­lished on a jour­nal’s web­site.

Traf­fic: Liv­ing near high­way pol­lu­tion is bad for asth­mat­ics

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