Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Household cleaners may double risk of breast cancer

More naive "logic". What about asking WHY some women are more concerned about cleaning? How about this? Could it be that they felt in poor health anyway and were doing their best to minimize their risks? The results could therefore simply show that people who feel in poor health really do get more illness.

But the study was a retrospective self report one anyhow so even the authors recognize the limits of that

Household cleaners and air fresheners could be bad for women's health, new research suggests. Women who regularly use household cleaners and air fresheners are at double the risk of developing breast cancer than those who never use the products.

The study of more than 1,500 women found that solid slow-release air fresheners and anti-mould products had the biggest effect. Insect repellents, oven and surface cleaners also produced a slight increase.

"Women who reported the highest combined cleaning product use had a doubled risk of breast cancer compared to those with the lowest reported use," said Dr Julia Brody, from the Silent Spring Institute in the United States,

"Use of air fresheners and products for mould and mildew control were associated with increased risk."

Tests in laboratories have shown that some cleaning products, air fresheners and insect repellents have chemicals in them that may cause cancer. But any actual link has never been proved.

For the latest study Dr Brody and her team questioned 787 women diagnosed with breast cancer and 721 other women about their cleaning regimes.

They found that overall women who used a combination of cleaning products were up to 110 per cent more likely to have developed breast cancer than those who never touched them.

The biggest effect was with solid air fresheners with those who replaced theirs more than seven times a year twice as likely to have developed beast cancer. Using Mould and mildew removers more than once a week also seemed to double the risk.

Insect repellants, oven cleaners and furniture polish also had a slight increase in the risks.

"To our knowledge, this is the first published report on cleaning product use and risk of breast cancer," said Dr Brody.

The researchers said that although a link appeared to be made between cancer and the cleaning products more research was needed to be certain.

They found that women with breast cancer who believed that chemicals and pollutants contribute "a lot" to the risk of developing the condition were more likely to report high product usage.

Speaking about the potential bias to the study, Dr Brody said: "When women are diagnosed with breast cancer, they often think about what happened in the past that might have contributed to the disease. "As a result, it may be that women with breast cancer more accurately recall their past product use or even overestimate it. "Or, it could also be that experience with breast cancer influences beliefs about its causes.

"For example, women diagnosed with breast cancer are less likely to believe heredity contributes 'a lot', because most are the first in their family to get the disease."

In order to avoid possible recall bias, the researchers recommend further study of cleaning products and breast cancer using prospective self-reports and measurements in environmental and biological media.

The report was published in BioMed Central's journal Environmental Health.


Autism detected in voice of children

An interesting development -- if replicated

Autism could be detected in children by analysing their voices, according to a new study. Toddlers with the developmental disorder pronouce words differently to their healthy peers which can be picked up by a new automated vocal analysis system created by scientists.

The device called LENA (Language Environment Analysis) could lead to the screening for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) for which early intervention is important.

It works by recording a child's speech for a whole day and then feeding the data into a special computer program that compares the noises with those of other youngsters already known to have the condition.

The researchers said early speech of infants with autism - particularly the way they pronounce the syllables of words - are distinct from those of typically developing children.

The system which costs about £130 picked up those with the condition with 86 per cent accuracy, according to the findings published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It also differentiated normal children and those with autism from children with language delay based on the automated vocal analysis.

Early diagnosis and treatment of autism can have a dramatic effect on the development of children. The problem is that it is hard to detect and by the time it is usually detected a lot of damage is already done.

Professor Steven Warren, of Kansas University, said: "This technology could help paediatricians screen children for ASD to determine if a referral to a specialist for a full diagnosis is required and get those children into earlier and more effective treatments."

The researchers analysed 1,486 recordings from 232 children aged between 10 months and four years – more than 3.1 million identified utterances.

They found the most important indicator proved to be the ones targeting the way children pronounce syllables – the ability of children to produce well-formed syllables with rapid movements of the jaw and tongue during vocalisation.

Infants exhibit control of the voice in the first months of life and refine this skill as they acquire language.


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