Tagged: developing countries

Public smoking bans and eating fibre significantly reduces people attending hospitals for asthma. These are the conclusions of two 2014 studies: one reported in the Lancet and the other in Nature Medicine.  
Asthma is the inflammation of the air passages in the lungs. It occurs when the immune system mistakes harmless triggers, such as dust mites as threats, which cause the airways to become inflamed, leading to symptoms such as wheezing and breathlessness.
Worldwide the economic costs associated with asthma exceed that of TB and HIV/AIDS together.
"Asthma affects about 300 million worldwide. The prevalence of the condition has increased following changes to a modern, urban lifestyle. Each year asthma kills about 255,000 people and deaths are related to the lack of proper treatment", says Dr. Murali Mohan, Senior Consultant Pulmonologist, Narayana Institute of Cardiac Sciences, Bangalore, India.
Over the past 40 years, the prevalence of asthma has increased in all countries in parallel with that of allergy. With the projected increase in the proportion of the world's population living in urban areas, there is likely to be a significant increase in the number of people with asthma. By 2025, it's projected that there will be an additional 100 million people with asthma. 
Mortality & morbidity
Asthma mortality rates vary and don't parallel prevalence, but are high in countries where access to essential drugs is low.

Another measure of asthma severity is hospitalization rates. For most low and middle-income countries, such data is unavailable. Notwithstanding, in countries where asthma management plans have been implemented, hospitalization rates have decreased.

Childhood asthma is an increasing challenge and accounts for many lost school days and may deprive the affected children of both academic achievement and social interaction. This is particularly the case in underserved populations such as India where there are an estimated 15 to 20 million asthmatics.
Smoking and asthma
The Lancet published the first systematic review and meta-analysis examining the effect of smoke-free legislation on asthma. The study examined 250,000-hospital attendances for asthma attacks in the US and Europe between 2008 and 2013. Conclusions show that the rates of hospital attendance for asthma were reduced by 10% within a year of smoke-free laws coming into effect.
Comprehensive smoke-free laws only cover 16% of the world's population, and 40% of children worldwide are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke.
Studies tend to focus on the impact of smoking on adults, but more than 25% of all deaths and over 50% of all healthy years of life lost are due to children being exposed to second-hand smoke.
Processed food
Research, undertaken by scientists from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and reported in Nature, examines the role that different types of dietary fibre play in the gut and its effect on asthma. Findings show that a high-fibre diet reduces asthma.
In recent years, the incidence of asthma has been well documented. Coincident with this have been changes in diet, including reduced consumption of fibre.

The Swiss researchers argue that high and low fibre diets alter the types of bacteria living in the gut. Bacteria, which can munch on soluble fibre flourish on a high-fibre diet, and in turn, produce more short-chain fatty acids, which act as signals to the immune system and result in the lungs being more resistant to irritation.

The opposite happens in low-fibre diets and the mice become more vulnerable to asthma.

The Swiss scientists conclude that a dietary shift away from fibre in favour of processed foods raise levels of asthma.

Albert Einstein said that, "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet".  Were Einstein alive today, he would have added, "and a ban on smoking".
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