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Asthma on rise in India, says expert

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ASTHMA
Photo Credit: physiopedia

Kolkata, April 30 (IANS) One among every ten persons affected by asthma globally is an Indian, with the country having 20 million such patients and the number is on the rise, an expert said here on Monday.

Stating that the medical infrastructure and awareness about asthma had significantly gone up in the country, the doctor said more awareness programmes and focus on providing less expensive medication was necessary to fight the “chronic inflammatory decease” that can become fatal if not treated properly.

“Around 20 million people in India suffer from asthma. It is roughly 10 per cent of the global number of asthmatic patients. So certainly a greater sense of awareness, preventive measures and proper detection and treatment is necessary,” said Subhra Mitra, Head of the Department of Pulmonology in Calcutta National Medical College here.

“Asthma is hereditary. The genetic factors interact with environmental factors such as pollution to trigger asthma. Also viral infections and obesity acts as a trigger for asthma among the teenagers,” he said on the eve of World Asthma Day.

The doctor said while the number of asthmatic patients in India is quiet high, the attacks are not as frequent as in Australia and certain European countries where asthma has a higher rate due to certain genetic reasons.

Talking about the available ways to treat the disease, Mitra stressed on the importance of going for a therapeutic remedy once asthma is diagnosed instead of rescue medication. He said inhalation therapy was the mainstay of treatment for asthma.

“Steroid is the backbone of asthma treatment. We always suggest the inhalation therapy as it involves lower consumption of steroid and can deliver the drugs directly to the lungs which is more effective,” he pointed out.

The doctor said less costly steroids should be more in circulation to make the treatment more affordable.

“In case of inhalation, the steroid dosage is in micro-grams while oral medicines are in mili-grams. So the inhale route has lesser side effects. Inhaled medications have been shown to improve disease status and reduce the number and severity of asthma exacerbation,” he said.

He also stressed on the importance of following a proper detection process like Pulmonary Function Test before starting the treatment for asthma.

IANS

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What is to be blamed for childhood cancer?

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Childhood cancer
Representative Image , Image Credit : J Pat Carter/AP

A team of researchers has thrown light on the community beliefs about what causes cancer in children, an area which remains understudied, finds a latest research.

“Few childhood cancers are attributed to genetics or environmental factors, so when children are diagnosed with cancer, families often wonder ‘why me/why us’?” said lead author Janine Vetsch, postdoctoral research candidate from UNSW Sydney in Australia.

For the study, the team examined the beliefs of more than 600 participants — parents and childhood cancer survivors — about the causes of childhood cancer, and compared them with beliefs of 510 members of the general population.

Findings, published in Acta Oncologica, revealed that more than seven out of 10 childhood cancer survivors and survivors’ parents believed that chance or bad luck caused the cancer.

This led to most parents and survivors seem to understand that there is nothing they could have done to prevent the cancer, according to Vetsch.

However, around one in five families did believe that environmental factors and genetics played a role, despite only limited available scientific evidence, results further showed.

“It looks like healthcare professionals are successfully helping most families arrive at that view,” said Vetsch.

Such views could lead to stigma. Hence, it is important to increase community knowledge of childhood cancer causes in general.

There is a need to encourage doctors to talk about the causes with affected families to address unhelpful misconceptions,” Vetsch suggested.

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Does your dental floss contain toxic chemicals?

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Dental Health, Image: Bigstock

New York, Jan 9: Using Oral-B Glide dental floss could contribute to elevated levels of toxic chemicals that can lead to health problems, especially in women, including kidney and testicular cancer, high cholesterol, low birth weight, among others, says a study led by US-based Silent Spring Institute.

In the study, the team measured the presence of 11 different PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) — water- and grease-proof substances — in blood samples of 178 middle-aged women.

The findings, appearing in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (JESEE), showed that women who flossed with Oral-B Glide tended to have higher levels of a type of PFAS called PFHxS (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid) in their body compared with those who did not.

“This is the first study to show that using dental floss containing PFAS is associated with a higher body burden of these toxic chemicals,” said lead author Katie Boronow, a scientist at the institute.

“The good news is, based on our findings, consumers can choose flosses that don’t contain PFAS,” she added.

Further, the team also tested 18 dental flosses (including three Glide products) for the presence of fluorine — a marker of PFAS, all of which tested positive for fluorine. The new findings are consistent with previous reports that Glide is manufactured using Teflon-like compounds.

In addition, the study also showed that women who frequently ate prepared food in coated cardboard containers, such as French fries or takeout, had elevated blood levels of PFAS chemicals.

“Overall, this study strengthens the evidence that consumer products are an important source of PFAS exposure,” Boronow said. “Restricting these chemicals from products should be a priority to reduce levels in people’s bodies.”

Other behaviours that were associated with higher PFAS levels included having stain-resistant carpet or furniture and living in a city served by a PFAS-contaminated drinking water supply.

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How breastfeeding is linked to being a righty or lefty

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Breastfeeding

New York, Jan 9: Are you a leftie or a righty? The duration for which a child is breastfed may determine handedness or the dominant hand, says a research.

The study, from the University of Washington, suggests that the prevalence of left-handedness is lower among breastfed infants.

Children breastfed for longer than nine months were associated with the prevalence for righthandedness.

On the other hand, bottle fed infants were associated with left-handedness.

The reason could be because the region of the brain that controls handedness localises to one side of the brain.

Possibly, breastfeeding optimises this process towards becoming right or left-handed, the researchers explained.

“We think breastfeeding optimises the process the brain undergoes when solidifying handedness,” said Philippe Hujoel, a professor from the varsity.

“That’s important because it provides an independent line of evidence that breastfeeding may need to last six to nine months,” Hujoel added.

For the study, the researchers included 62,129 mother-child pairs.

The findings, published in the journal Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, showed that breastfeeding for less than one month, one to six months, and more than six months, when compared to bottle feeding, was associated with a nine per cent, 15 per cent and 22 per cent decreased prevalence of non right-handedness, respectively.

However, the study does not imply that breastfeeding leads to right-handedness, Hujoel emphasised.

Handedness, whether it be right- or left-handed, is set early in fetal life and is at least partially determined by genetics, he noted.

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