Asthma risk from house­hold clean­ing sprays

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Com­piled by Dr Chris­tine White

HOUSE­WORK can be hard and bor­ing, and now there’s an­other ex­cuse to let things slide. In the Amer­i­canJour­nalofRe­s­pi­ra­to­ryand Crit­i­calCareMedicine this week, re­searchers re­port that us­ing house­hold clean­ing sprays and air fresh­en­ers as lit­tle as once a week can in­crease the risk of de­vel­op­ing asthma. The study in­volved more than 3500 adults from 10 Euro­pean coun­tries. All of them re­ported do­ing the ma­jor­ity of the clean­ing in their homes, and none suf­fered from asthma at the start of the study. Nine years later, par­tic­i­pants were ex­am­ined by a doc­tor for signs of asthma, wheeze and al­lergy, and they were asked how many times per week they used clean­ing prod­ucts. Forty-two per cent of them used clean­ing sprays at least once a week, and their risk of de­vel­op­ing asthma was 49 per cent higher than those who used clean­ing sprays less of­ten. Glass clean­ers, furniture clean­ers and air fresh­en­ers had the great­est ef­fect, sug­gest­ing that their use in the home should be lim­ited. AmJRe­spirCritCareMed 2007; 176: 735-741 (Zock J, et al) EAT­ING a low-fat diet may lower the risk of ovar­ian can­cer in older women, ac­cord­ing to new re­search in the Jour­nal of the Na­tional Can­cer In­sti­tute. A to­tal of 48,835 post­menopausal women were ran­domly as­signed to eat ei­ther a low-fat diet (19,541 women) or their usual diet (29,294 women) and were fol­lowed up for an av­er­age of eight years. Those on the low-fat diet re­duced their fat in­take to 20 per cent of their to­tal en­ergy in­take. They also ate at least five serv­ings of fruits and veg­eta­bles and six serv­ings of whole grains per day. Dur­ing the first four years of the study, the risk of ovar­ian can­cer was sim­i­lar in the two groups. But in the sec­ond four years, those in the low-fat diet group had a 40 per cent lower risk of ovar­ian can­cer than those eat­ing their nor­mal diet. Older women could there­fore con­sider re­duc­ing their fat in­take to pro­tect against this deadly dis­ease. JNatlCancerInst 2007;99:1534-1543 (Pren­tice RL, et al) OBESE peo­ple are more likely to de­velop can­cer of the oe­soph­a­gus — the tube that con­nects the mouth to the stom­ach — than peo­ple of nor­mal weight, con­cludes an Aus­tralian study in the jour­nal Gut this week. Dr David White­man and col­leagues at the Queens­land In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Re­search in Bris­bane com­pared 793 peo­ple with oe­sophageal can­cer with 1580 peo­ple with­out the dis­ease. They cal­cu­lated body mass in­dex (BMI) as weight in kilo­grams di­vided by squared height in me­tres, with a BMI of 30 or more con­sid­ered obese. Peo­ple with a BMI of 40 or more were six times more likely to have oe­sophageal can­cer com­pared to those of nor­mal weight, even af­ter ac­count­ing for other risk fac­tors in­clud­ing smok­ing and al­co­hol in­take. While the rea­sons for the in­creased risk are un­known, the find­ings should pro­vide even more in­cen­tive to main­tain a healthy BMI. Gut 2007;doi:10.1136/gut.2007.131375 (White­man DC, et al) LUNG can­cer could be de­tected much ear­lier and treated more suc­cess­fully fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of a new blood test for the dis­ease. In the on­line edi­tion of Tho­rax this week, re­searchers de­scribe how pro­teins called au­toan­ti­bod­ies are in­creased in the blood of pa­tients with lung can­cer com­pared to healthy peo­ple. They col­lected blood sam­ples from 50 healthy vol­un­teers and 104 peo­ple with dif­fer­ent types of lung can­cer, and mea­sured the lev­els of seven dif­fer­ent au­toan­ti­bod­ies. Seventy-nine (76 per cent) of the lung can­cer pa­tients had all seven of the pro­teins in their blood, whereas only four (eight per cent) of the healthy peo­ple tested pos­i­tive for any of the pro­teins. Pre­vi­ous re­search has shown that au­toan­ti­bod­ies can be de­tected in the blood up to five years be­fore can­cer de­vel­ops. The au­thors sug­gest that the test could be used for peo­ple at in­creased risk of de­vel­op­ing lung can­cer, such as smok­ers and pas­sive smok­ers. Tho­rax 2007;doi:10.1136/ thx.2007.083592 (Chap­man CJ, et al) CON­FLICT with a spouse or part­ner in­creases the risk of heart dis­ease, con­cludes a new study in the Archives of In­ter­nal Medicine. A to­tal of 8499 Bri­tish civil ser­vants were sur­veyed about neg­a­tive as­pects of their clos­est re­la­tion­ship, and how much emo­tional and prac­ti­cal sup­port they re­ceived from that per­son on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Over the next 12 years, 589 of the par­tic­i­pants ex­pe­ri­enced a heart prob­lem such as chest pain or heart at­tack. Af­ter tak­ing into ac­count other fac­tors that can af­fect the heart, in­clud­ing age, sex, obe­sity, di­a­betes and smok­ing, those who ex­pe­ri­enced the most con­flict in their close re­la­tion­ships were 34 per cent more likely to have heart prob­lems com­pared to those with the most pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships. The find­ings show that im­prov­ing the qual­ity of our re­la­tion­ships may not only make us hap­pier, but also im­prove our health. ArchIn­ternMed 2007;167(18):1951-1957 (De Vogli R, et al) DRUGS called statins are known to re­duce choles­terol lev­els and they may even de­lay de­men­tia. Now new re­search has shown that they can also slow down the loss of lung func­tion that oc­curs with age. Ac­cord­ing to the study, pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal ofRe­s­pi­ra­to­ryandCrit­i­calCareMedicine this week, the pro­tec­tive ef­fect of statins on the lungs may be due to their anti-in­flam­ma­tory and anti-ox­i­dant prop­er­ties. Re­searchers mea­sured the lung func­tion of 803 par­tic­i­pants, at least twice be­tween 1995 and 2005. They mea­sured the vol­ume of air that could be forced out in one sec­ond (forced ex­pi­ra­tory vol­ume in one sec­ond, FEV1) and the to­tal vol­ume of air that could be ex­haled (forced vi­tal ca­pac­ity, FVC). Those who were tak­ing statins ex­pe­ri­enced a much slower de­cline in lung func­tion. For FEV1, statin users lost 10.9 millil­itres per year on av­er­age, whereas nonusers lost an av­er­age of 23.9 millil­itres each year — more than twice that of the statin group. Sim­i­larly, statin users lost an av­er­age of 14 millil­itres per year in FVC, whereas nonusers lost an av­er­age of 36.2 millil­itres. Statins may there­fore ben­e­fit pa­tients with im­paired lung func­tion, adding to their grow­ing list of uses. AmJRe­spirCritCareMed 2007;176:742-747 (Alex­e­eff SE, et al)

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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.

Low-fat diet: Low­ers ovar­ian can­cer risk

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