Growing minority of non-smokers developing lung cancer – research

Sometimes health news affecting a celebrity can be of interest to us. Glenn Frey, lead singer of the group Eagles, passed away suddenly. Interestingly, Frey suffered from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and was taking medication to help him cope with the pain and symptoms.

Band manager Irving Azoff said Frey’s RA medication played a part in his death. “The colitis and pneumonia were side effects from all the meds. He died from complications of ulcerative colitis after being treated with drugs for his rheumatoid arthritis, which he had for over 15 years,” he told journalists.

RA affects around one per cent of the population and disables at least half of the sufferers within five years. The most effective RA drugs are considered to be among the most dangerous medications and include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and TNF-alpha inhibitors. Side effects include infection and a raised cancer risk.

The chief science and health officer has taken “immediate retirement” since the Associated Press published e-mails that she had sent to another lobby group, the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), which received $1.5 million in donations from the drinks conglomerate. Sense About Science received donations of £20,000.

GEBN promotes the idea that lack of exercise, and not sugary drinks and colas, is the primary cause of obesity. A similar line was taken by Sense About Science, which discredited a major study claiming that 184,000 deaths a year are directly attributable to sugary drinks.

There is a connection between fast foods and lung cancer. Smoking may be the major cause of lung cancer. However, the standard western diet of processed foods can double the risk in people who have never smoked.

High glycaemic-index (GI) foods, which include processed and fast foods, are an unsuspected cause of lung cancer, while eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can prevent this disease. The risk was discovered when researchers compared the eating habits of around 1,900 people who had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, with about 2,400 healthy people. There was a 49 per cent higher risk between those eating high and low-GI foods.

The risk doubled among people who had never smoked, say researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre. This discovery explains why a growing minority of non-smokers are developing lung cancer, they say.

High-GI foods include sugary drinks and foods, white bread and white rice, biscuits and cakes, and most commercial breakfast cereals. The foods cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels, which then require more insulin to break them down.

Smoking may be the major cause of lung cancer. However, the standard western diet of processed foods can double the risk in people who have never smoked

A group of scientists and doctors is calling on the World Health Organisation to recognise ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’ (EHS) and ‘multiple chemical sensitivity’ (MCS) as diseases that are already affecting many people around the world.

The group (which includes 24 scientists, physicists and doctors from Europe and North America) also wants governments to take simple precautionary measures to prevent over-exposures to electromagnetic radiation, usually from mobile phones and Wi-Fi networks and chemicals.

In addition, they want to see truly independent research undertaken into the dangers of mobiles and pollutants in the environment; most of the research, which has declared mobile phones safe, has been funded by the mobile phone industry.

The Scientific Committee of the Fifth Paris Appeal Congress says that EHS and MCS are ever-increasing health problems around the world and are caused by EMFs (electromagnetic fields) and chemicals. The diseases can be triggered by acute, high-intensity exposures and by chronic low-level exposures over a period of time (International Scientific Declaration on EHS and MCS, Brussels 2015 Statement).

Electronic cigarettes may be bad for us, as new studies have discovered. However, flavoured ones could be worse. The cigarettes are flavoured with benzaldehyde, a compound commonly used in the food and cosmetics industries that is potentially harmful when heated and inhaled.

The first sign of a reaction is often a throat irritation, cough or sore throat. That is the time to switch to a non-flavoured e-cigarette, say researchers from the Rosewell Park Cancer Institute. They measured benzaldehyde levels in 145 flavoured e-cigarettes and found it in 108 of those tested. The highest concentrations were in cherry-flavoured cigarettes, which typically had levels that were about 44 times higher than in other flavours.

Health workers should be aware not just of patients smoking electronic cigarettes, but of the type they smoke and the flavours they are using. The researchers say they were looking for just one toxicant in the study, so the research into the potential health hazards of vaping, or smoking electronic cigarettes, is still ongoing. Nevertheless, the results are likely to show that vaping is not as hazardous as smoking tobacco, they say (Thorax, 2016).

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