News in brief: New clues to never smokers’ lung cancer; Poor home environment promotes childhood asthma; Long COVID common in healthcare staff

Thursday, 9 Jun 2022

New clues to never smokers’ lung cancer

Amongst never-smokers, Asian-born individuals are at higher risk of developing lung cancer than those born elsewhere, Australian research shows.

Data from the 45 and Up Study and the NSW Cancer, Lifestyle and Evaluation of Risk (CLEAR) Study found Asian-born participants had a 2.83 times higher risk of developing lung cancer than other non-smokers.

There were no significant associations found between lung cancer and other exposures including passive smoking, family history of lung cancer, asthma requiring treatment, diabetes, height, anti-hypertensive medications, several lifestyle factors and female reproductive factors.

The study said the higher lung cancer risk in never-smoking individuals born in Asia could be due to either genetic or environmental factors or both, “which can be difficult to disentangle”.

“As timely diagnosis of lung cancer remains a challenge due to atypical and complex presentations of a number of lung cancer patients, ethnicity could potentially be considered as one of the criteria for early diagnosis or screening interventions of lung cancer in clinical settings,” it said.

Read more in Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology

Poor home environment promotes childhood asthma

A poor home environment – including factors such as overcrowding and maternal smoking – is associated with long term persistence of asthma symptoms in Australian children, new research shows.

A University of Queensland observational study identified three distinct trajectories of childhood asthma symptoms based on data from 3,846 children from birth to 14-15 years of age.

Exposure to maternal smoking in early childhood years and throughout childhood was the most significant association with a ‘persistent high’ symptom trajectory. Other negative family and household environmental exposures for persistent asthma included clutter, large family size, and poor dwelling condition.

“Research to date has mainly focussed on the immediate effects of factors exacerbating asthma symptom, but these factors are dynamic and can change over time in influencing symptom trajectories,” the researchers said.

“While it is estimated that one in 10 Australian children suffer from asthma symptoms, our study showed that one-third of children have ‘transient high’ or ‘persistent high’ prevalence of wheezing across their childhood.”

They said that improving childhood environment factors – in particular, reducing tobacco smoke exposure in the home – can facilitate more favourable childhood asthma symptom patterns.

More information: BMJ Open

Long COVID common in healthcare staff

Almost three-quarters of healthcare staff continue to suffer from the consequences of COVID-19 for months after acute infection, a German study has found.

A survey of 2053 healthcare workers who had PCR confirmed COVID-19 disease in 2020 found that 73% experienced persistent symptoms for more than three months, with fatigue/exhaustion, concentration/memory problems and shortness of breath being most frequently reported.

Ongoing symptoms were associated with poor physical and mental health-related quality of life, with one-fifth of staff with persistent symptoms reporting depression and anxiety symptoms.

Risk factors for long term symptoms after acute infection included older age, female gender, previous illness, many and severe symptoms during the acute infection, and outpatient medical care.

The findings “demonstrate the urgent need for rehabilitation measures among those affected so that they can achieve an improved quality of life in terms of their health and work ability,” the researchers said.

More details:  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 

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