Asthma risk from household cleaning sprays
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