Newcastle researchers say they have found a link between asthma and oestrogen in young obese women.
The Hunter Medical Research Institute's Hayley Scott says oestrogen stimulates leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger, but also promotes airway inflammation.
A study of 130 people found younger females tended to show a more hormone-related pattern of airway inflammation that is associated with higher levels of oestrogen.
Dr Scott says obesity is known to be a major risk factor for asthma but the relationship is not well understood.
"There is potential to modulate sex hormone levels in obese young women with asthma for improved management of their respiratory condition," she said.
"Neutrophilia (a form of airway inflammation) doesn't respond well to frontline asthma treatment with inhalers."
The findings were presented in Darwin at the annual scientific meeting of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.
Link to online findings here.
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Study finds up to 75 percent of asthmatic adults have an allergy


More than 25 million American children, adolescents and adults currently have a diagnosis of asthma.  
Previously it was thought that underlying allergies were only prevalent in children with allergies. In fact, almost 80 percent of children with asthma have underlying allergies, so perhaps that was not necessarily the case with adults with asthma. 
However, a new study published in this month’s Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found that about 75 percent of asthma sufferers aged 20 to 40 years old and 65 percent of asthmatic adults aged 55 years and older, have at least one confirmed allergy.
The older asthmatic adults studied were found to be sensitive to indoor house dust mites (36 percent), followed by grass pollen (33 percent), cats (27 percent), dog (24 percent), and cockroaches (11 percent). 
The allergic sensitivities in those asthmatics studied in the 20-to 40-year-old groups were different: These younger patients were found to be sensitive to dogs (50 percent) and house dust mites (45 percent).
The medical community has long understood the relationship between having allergies and the risk of developing asthma especially in the younger population.  However, asthma is often not well diagnosed in older adults, and so many go untreated or under-treated. 
A misdiagnosis of asthma in an older adults leaves the potential for various associated health consequences.  Without optimal diagnosis and treatment, a potential increase in life-threatening asthma symptoms may be observed particularly in older adults, where other conditions are more prevalent, such as underlying heart diseases.
This study underscores the importance of looking at allergic triggers in older and younger individuals, as well as looking at genetic history and environmental modification in evaluating and treating asthmatic individuals.  
Testing for possible allergies and subsequent counseling regarding environmental allergy exposures need to be strongly considered in older patients with asthma.
For a long time it was considered that older patients with asthma were more likely to be characterized as being “non-allergic.” It appears from this review and others, there is increasing evidence of older individuals with asthma who are more likely to have underlying allergies. 
The take-home message from this study shows an even higher number of older adults with...
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Chronic Asthma May Be Caused by Traffic Pollution


Fourteen percent of chronic childhood asthma could be due to exposure to traffic pollution, a study of 10 European cities has found.
The new study suggests that air quality can trigger the breathing disorder as much as being around someone else who is smoking, which the World Health Organization has linked to 4 to 18 percent of asthma cases.
Asthma sufferers often flag pollution as a trigger for their symptoms. A recent survey from Asthma UK found that 66 percent of sufferers said that traffic pollution makes their asthma worse, WebMD reported. Twenty-nine percent of responders said that reducing air pollution was the top factor that would make their lives better, and 85 percent said they were worried about car pollution's effect on their and their family's health.
"Air pollution has previously been seen to trigger symptoms but this is the first time we have estimated the percentage of cases that might not have occurred if Europeans had not been exposed to road traffic pollution," lead author Dr. Laura Perez, at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, said in a press release. "In light of all the existing epidemiological studies showing that road-traffic contributes to the onset of the disease in children, we must consider these results to improve policy making and urban planning."
Researchers looked at population-attributable factors to see how near-road traffic pollution affected patients. The calculation showed how changing pollution levels might lower disease levels or reduce risk for death.
They discovered that when children were near high levels of near-road traffic pollution they had much higher rates of asthma, even when other factors like passive (or secondhand) smoking or socioeconomic factors were accounted for. They estimated that 33,200 cases -- or 14 percent -- of chronic asthma suffers in those 10 cities were exposed to roads with high vehicle traffic, causing their asthma, and 15 percent of all asthma sufferer's episodes were due to near-road traffic conditions if a causal relationship was assumed.
"This latest study adds to the weight of evidence to suggest that traffic pollution is a cause of asthma rather than just a trigger," Emily Humphreys, head of policy and public affairs at Asthma UK, told WebMD. She was not involved in the research.
Asthma affects one in 12 people, or 8 percent of the U.S. population, according to 2009 data from the Centers...
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Asthma is now said to affect nearly 25 million people in the U.S. alone (that's one in eight individuals), 300 million worldwide. It continues to increase annually. An estimated $48.6 billion are spent in medical bills, $6 billion in prescription drugs, and who knows how much in alternative treatments - practitioner-based or supplement-based. It has increased by 48 percent in the past 10 years, according to the American Lung Association August 2012 statistics.

There are many causes of asthma, and many more triggers. It is important to differentiate between the two terms related to asthma. "Causes" refers to the underlying mechanism, or mechanisms that set the stage for someone to have asthma, whereas, "triggers" refers to the event or exposure that can set off an asthma attack.
To read the entire article, click here.
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The sudden onset of an asthma attack can be a frightening event. Asthmatics often experience a severe shortness of breath combined with coughing or wheezing and a tightening sensation in their lungs and chest. If you suffer from asthma, there is a chronic state of inflammation in your lungs. When this inflammation is paired with constriction of the airwaves and muscles in the chest, it is important to seek immediate relief, either via a bronchodilator or emergency medical care.
When your body experiences one form of inflammation or another, it is typically in response to something your body regards or perceives as foreign or harmful. With sufferers of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the inflammation may appear for seemingly no reason and last for far too long. These unexpected occurrences can be harmful.
Additionally, airway constriction, also known as bronchoconstriction, may accompany an onset of inflammation. The combination of bronchoconstriction with an onset of inflammation can further limit your airway function making it just that much harder to breathe.
It is bronchoconstriction (and how to mitigate it) that researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) have been researching lately. And their findings may be both surprising and welcome among the asthma and COPD communities.
The new study, focusing on the effects of bitter foods on our physiology, was conducted by an interdisciplinary team of scientists from UMMS and was published this week in the open access journal PLOS Biology. The team claims their research represents an important step forward in gaining an understanding of how certain substances that are responsible for making some foods bitter in taste can also play a part in helping to reverse the contraction of airway cells. The reversal of bronchoconstriction is known as bronchodilation.
For the rest of the article, click here.
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BPA exposure linked to kids' asthma risk


Children exposed to the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, may be at an increased risk for asthma, a new study suggests.
During the study, kids who had greater exposure to BPA at ages 3, 5 and 7 were more likely to be diagnosed with asthma before age 12 than children who had less exposure.
BPA is found in some plastics, canned food containers and other food packaging, and most people have detectable levels of the chemical in their urine. Previous studies have linked BPA to a number of health conditions, including childhood obesity and behavior problems.
The new study is the first to report a link between BPA exposure during childhood and an increased risk for asthma. An earlier study found a link between BPA exposure in the womb during the second trimester of pregnancy, and an elevated risk of wheezing at age 3.
Red the rest of the article here.
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Vitamin D has effects on the innate and adaptive immune system. In asthmatic children low vitamin D levels are associated with poor asthma control, reduced lung function, increased medication intake, and exacerbations. Little is known about vitamin D in adult asthma patients or its association with asthma severity and control.

For more about this, read the pdf abstract from Respiratory Research here.

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If I were a virus, I think I’d like to be Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
What is that, you ask? Exactly my point.
Our lungs are the only organ in our body that is exposed to the filth of our environment. Because of this, our lungs have to fight off bacteria, viruses and pollutants, and yet try to function normally to help us breathe. 
Asked to name a respiratory virus, our mind immediately jumps to influenza, the big daddy of viruses that affect our lung. Yet, there is a virus that infects more infants throughout the world (in developed and developing countries), that nearly all of us have been infected by at least once by the age of 1 year,  that we have no vaccine or treatment for, that our body is unable to develop long lasting immunity to, and that kills more elderly individuals than influenza. That virus is RSV, and yet, is but a blimp in our collective consciousness.
I will admit, I am partial to this virus. I work with it for my PhD. My aim is to study how infections with RSV early on can cause asthma.
Oh right. I forgot to tell you. If you are hospitalised with RSV infection as a kid, you have a higher likelihood of getting asthma as you get older. Influenza on the other hand? Can’t cause asthma.
For more about this, read here.
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