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Oct 28, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- HOUSE CLEANERS FACE ASTHMA RISK

A study shows domestic cleaners may be at increased risk of developing asthma. In industrialized countries, asthma is the most common lung disease acquired in the workplace, accounting for up to 20 percent of all cases in adults. Researchers surveyed some 5,000 women ages 30 to 65 in Barcelona, Spain. One in eight had asthma; one in six had bronchitis. Working as a house cleaner at some time in life appears to increase the risk for all respiratory illness, the researchers found. The rates of respiratory symptoms associated with house cleaning were more than double those of other jobs, the researchers said. The figures were 12 percent among current and former cleaners and 5 percent among those who had never worked as cleaners. Among women in other professions, those working in hospitals and other healthcare centers also had a higher risk of asthma and bronchitis.


A component of red wine, resveratrol, appears to curtail the inflammation characteristic of a progressive lung disease, a small study shows. The study authors say the compound was so effective in laboratory tests, it could be developed to treat the disease, called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The condition is irreversible and progressive. The lungs deteriorate, making it difficult, and eventually impossible, to breathe. The main cause is smoking. The authors conclude that resveratrol or related compounds may be more effective than corticosteroids for treating COPD.


Hunters should take precautions against chronic wasting disease as they pursue big game this fall, doctors warn. The wild game disease has been documented in Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Symptoms in animals include thinness, abnormal behavior, repetitive movement, drooping head and ears, low appetite, excessive drinking and urinating, drooling, tremors and an abnormally wide stance. The symptoms may not appear in infected animals for up to 14 months after infection, experts say. They offer the following safety tips for hunting and dressing game: Do not hunt, handle or consume an animal that appears to be sick; avoid shooting big game in the head or the backbone, which can contaminate the meat; clean hands and any instruments after field dressing; field dress and bone out the carcass to remove most of the potentially affected body parts, and remove fatty tissue to eliminate the lymph nodes that also may carry the disease; avoid sawing through bone; and, double-bag all remains and dispose of them at a landfill.


Researchers have identified a genetic cause for the sensitivity to sunlight experienced by patients with lupus. It is a variant of the human gene for tumor necrosis factor-alpha. The researchers say the discovery, reported at the American College of Rheumatology, may help optimize treatment of photosensitivity and help pinpoint the genetic causes of lupus. Dr. Victoria Werth, associate professor of dermatology and medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and colleagues identified a variant of the TNF-alpha promoter that showed increased activity when exposed to sunlight. While drugs like antimalarials and thalidomide are already used to inhibit TNF-alpha and treat the skin symptoms of lupus, the findings allow researchers to test newer drugs that inhibit TNF-alpha, Werth said. Also, as researchers better understand the wavelengths of light that trigger the disease, they can develop sunscreens that may improve the ability to block the sun's harmful effects, doctors said.

(Editors: For more information about CLEANERS, contact Emma Dickinson at +44 (0)20 7383 6529 or For RED, Louise Donnelly +44 (0)207 352 8121, extension 3027 or For HUNTERS, Dell Rae Moellenberg at (970) 491-6009 or For LUPUS, Jen Miller at (215) 349-5657 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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