Do Gas Appliances Impact Asthma?

Gas appliances – kitchen stoves, clothes dryers, furnaces for home heating, fireplaces, space heaters or water heaters – use natural gas as their primary source of heat. In fact, almost half of American households have gas stoves in their kitchens which they use daily. Both the stoves, and other gas appliances, produce respirable irritants that accumulate in indoor air, especially in winter months. Those irritants…

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Race, Poverty and Asthma

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects children and adults. The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has had this disease under surveillance since 1980, and uses annual surveys to monitor mortality and morbidity – the latter expressed as school and work days lost, limitation of activity, asthma exacerbations, asthma-associated emergency room visits…

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Formaldehyde – a necessary toxic carcinogen?

Formaldehyde is a colourless, flammable gas with a strong smell, that is soluble in water. It is an essential component in the production of most common  consumer items. While commonly associated in most people's minds only with embalming procedures in the funeral industry or with laboratories, this ubiquitous chemical is, in reality, used or found in almost every industry. It is highly unstable…

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Dyeing to look good

Contact allergies are common. The main culprits are fragrance chemicals, preservatives and hair dyes. In hair dyes the most common allergen is paraphenylenediamine or PPD. PPD is an ingredient with high temperature stability, strength and chemical resistance. For this reason, it is used in textiles, fur-dyeing, dark-coloured cosmetics, …

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Atopy and Stress

Allergies are the fifth most common chronic disease in the United States affecting about 55% of the population. It is also an expensive disease in terms of allergy medications and allergy-related doctor visits ($7.9 billion). About 4 million work days are lost each year due to allergies.(1) Treatment for allergies costs $21 billion annually.(2) Many individuals with allergies…

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Obesity – More and Less

The obesity epidemic is in full swing. Just thirty years ago in the U.S., only 4% of 6 – 11 year olds were overweight; today, 17% or 12.5 million children and adolescents 2 – 19 years are obese. Since 1980 the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled, and 1 in 7 low-income pre-school children are now classified as obese. More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are considered obese…

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Vaping – A Question of Branding

Colourful, attractive holders, flavourful and appealing to young people – this is the transformation of cigarettes to e-cigarettes. Even the name has changed, and they can be sold as electronic inhalers, hookah pens, e-hookahs and vape pens. Flavours range from banana nut, vanilla, chocolate, coconut, lemon, cinnamon, cotton-candy to gummy bear. They are not inexpensive with prices upwards of $20 with refills available for a lower price. Since the flavoured contents are inhaled as a vapor, the process is called vaping.

The change in name is an effort to disassociate e-cigarettes…

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Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency

Asthma is an obstructive disease. So are bronchitis and emphysema, which also form part of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) compendium. Many patients who have had asthma for a long period of time go on to develop COPD.                                         

COPD is generally associated with smoking, and while it is true that almost 90% of people who develop COPD do so as a result of smoking, they constitute…

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Asthma and Suicide

Having a chronic disease such as asthma can lead to depression and suicide. The US figures for suicides in the U.S. are alarming: 36,035 in 2008, with about 666,000 persons being treated for nonfatal, self-inflicted injuries. A full 1% of American adults(2.2 million) reported making suicide plans in the past year…

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Cow’s Milk Allergy

Allergy to cow’s milk is the most common form of childhood allergy. Incidence of this particular allergy is approximately 2 – 3% in developed countries. Symptoms in infants range from 5 to 15%. Children generally develop symptoms within a week of being introduced to cows’ milk.  Symptoms of cow’s milk allergy may take different forms including…

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Benign obesity – does it matter where you have fat?

There are a number of studies that show the impact of obesity on the human skeleton, organs and functioning of the body. Many have linked obesity with a variety of cancers and listed the restrictions, such as impeded pulmonary function, that comes with excess weight. Further, insulin sensitivity decreases as weight increases. Increased weight also increases metabolic disorders.

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Tobacco – no place to hide

There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Smoking tobacco has been linked to cancers of the bladder, esophagus, cervix, kidney, larynx, lung, oral cavity, leukemia, pancreas and stomach. It impacts cardiovascular health promoting coronary heart disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, atherosclerosis and stroke. It plays a major role in respiratory diseases such as COPD, acute respiratory illnesses including pneumonia, coughing, phlegm, wheezing, dyspnea and in poor asthma control. It reduces fertility in women. It increases the risk of poor outcomes related to wound healing and surgeries. It lowers bone density in post-menopausal women, increases the risk of hip fractures and cataracts.

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Vocal Cord Dysfunction

Often confused with asthma and treated as such, vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) pr paradoxic vocal fold movement disorder is a functional rather than a structural disorder. Normally, when inhaling, the vocal cords open and then narrow slightly during exhalation. However, in VCD the vocal cords close partially on inspiration and act as an obstruction in the airway.(1–4) It is this abnormal movement that causes wheezing which can be easily misdiagnosed as asthma. This paradoxical closure of the vocal cords can also be mistaken for anaphylaxis and be treated as such. It can also present as exercise-induced asthma.(3)

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Depression, Asthma and Suicide

Chronic illness lends itself to depression. Asthma is a chronic illness and it is estimated that two out of three patients with asthma may suffer from depression. Depression may exacerbate asthma and asthma in turn can exacerbate depression. Depression, particularly in adolescents with asthma, can result in potentially fatal asthma. Researchers have now linked depression with increased severity of asthma.(1)

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Smoke Signals – Nothing is the Only Safe Bet

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a leading cause of death in the US. COPD is generally the result of smoking tobacco. Years of exposure to tobacco smoke can damage the airways and result in either emphysema or chronic bronchitis together with a persistent progressive reduction in lung function that ends in death. Tobacco companies have fought hard to prevent the exposure of data that clearly indicates the dangers of tobacco smoke, not only to the smoker but also to anyone in the smoker’s environment. 

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Do Caesarean sections increase atopy and asthma?

The number of caesarean sections (CS) in the US was at 4.5% in 1965, the year it was first measured. Thereafter the rate increased steeply to a high of 32.9% in 2009 so that one in three mothers gave birth by caesarean section. The rate dropped to 32.8% in 2010. This trend in increased CS is seen worldwide and has occurred concurrent with a rising epidemic of

  • autoimmune diseases (Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes)
  • allergic diseases (asthma, allergic rhinitis and atopic dermatitis).
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US Children’s Exposure to Tobacco Smoke and its Effects

Forty million children in the US are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) each year. The statistics are alarming. While the percentage of children without asthma exposed to ETS decreased from 57.3% to 44.2% during the years 1999 to 2010, there was no change in exposure for children with asthma with more than 1 in 2 children with asthma exposed to ETS, a higher percentage than children without asthma.

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