American Thoracic Society Journal news tips for November (second issue)

December 13, 2001

Intake of apples and selenuim affects incidence of asthma

Eating at least two or more apples per week and a higher intake of the essential metal selenium can protect against asthma in adults, according to British researchers. They reported on a population-based, case-control study to determine whether asthma is less common and less severe in adults who consume more dietary antioxidants. Their analysis was done on 1,471 individuals (607 asthma patients and 864 controls without asthma). Patients were aged 16 to 50. Complete information about their usual diet was obtained through food frequency questionnaires. The scientists found that asthma was less common in adults who consumed more apples and had a higher intake of selenium. There was also some evidence that asthma was less severe among some individuals with asthma who drank more red wine. The researchers called the effect of dietary selenium on asthma incidence a "strong association." Dietary selenium is found in meats and other animal products. This metal is necessary for the synthesis of an essential antioxidant enzyme. Most diets in the United States provide selenium at or above the daily requirement. But intake of selenium has been declining in Great Britain, according to the authors. The research appears in the second of two November issues of the American Thoracic Society peer-reviewed American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Farm life as a child reduces certain allergic reactions

Data from a large population-based respiratory study showed that if you lived on a farm as a child you had less risk in adulthood for an allergic reaction to either cat dander or to Timothy grass, along with fewer nasal congestion symptoms associated with pollen. French researchers assessed data from 6,251 persons to determine whether living on a farm in childhood was associated with lower risk of atopic disease in adulthood. Atopy is a term used to describe an allergic disease from a group of often-inherited immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated illnesses, including allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma. Persons who have atopic reactions produce IgE antibodies to such inhalants as pollens, molds, animal danders, and house dust mites. The adults who had lived on a farm when they were children were at ubstantially lower risk of being sensitized to cat dander and to Timothy grass, as well as having less nasal congestion from pollen. The research appears in the second issue for November of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
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