Thursday, October 04, 2012

Could statins cut glaucoma risk?

The usual epidemiological garbage.  You have to be pretty robust to cope with statins and it is that robustness which lies behind other desirable health outcomes

Taking a daily statin to lower cholesterol levels could reduce the risk of developing glaucoma in tens of thousands of elderly people.

Scientists found the risk of developing the eye condition was eight per cent lower among those who took statins for at least two years, compared to those who did not take them.

They believe statins could improved blood flow to parts of the eye and reduce high pressure inside the eye, which can trigger glaucoma.

Medics discovered the association after looking at results from more than 300,000 Americans over 60. The research is published in the journal Ophthalmology.

Glaucoma is disease of the optic nerve that, left untreated, can cause vision loss or blindness. It is often associated with high intraocular (eye) pressure, although there are other causes.

About 500,000 people in Britain are diagnosed with it, but an additional 1.7 million are at risk.

Dr Joshua Stein, of Michigan University, said: “Statins' apparent ability to reduce glaucoma risk may be due to several factors, including improved blood flow to the optic nerve and retinal nerve cells and enhanced outflow of the aqueous fluid, which may reduce intraocular pressure.

“While more research is needed, we hope our results may contribute to saving the sight of thousands who are predisposed to glaucoma."

But David Wright, chief executive of the International Glaucoma Association, warned the study far from proved statins lowered the risk. Strict randomised controlled trials were needed to test the theory, he said.  “I’d love it to be the case, but we can’t say statins do lower the chance of glaucoma at the moment,” he concluded.


Spotless homes don't make for unhealthy kids

I have been saying this for years -- JR

Mothers and fathers have one less reason to drop the mop and hide the Hoover from today - because scientists have debunked a popular modern theory that living in clean homes harms children’s health.

In recent years the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ has become an acceptable excuse to leave the house in a condition that could be described as ’lived-in’.

The theory holds that lack of exposure to common microbes, caused by living in spotless homes, means children’s immune systems do not develop as they should. This could explain large rises in asthma and other allergic conditions, it contends.

First proposed in a British Medical Journal article in 1989, it has almost reached the status of received wisdom.

But now microbiologists say the theory is wrong. A new scientific report, examining more than 20 years of research, concludes the hygiene hypothesis is not supported by the evidence.

Sally Bloomfield, honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said: “The underlying theory that microbial exposure is crucial to regulating the immune system is right.

“But the idea that children who have fewer infections, because of more hygienic homes, are then more likely to develop asthma and other allergies does not hold up.”

She is presenting the report with colleagues today at the national conference of the Infection Prevention Society in Liverpool.

Dr Rosalind Stanwell-Smith, also from the LSHTM, said: “Allergies and chronic inflammatory diseases are serious health issues and it’s time we recognised that simplistically talking about home and personal cleanliness as the cause of the problem is ill-advised.

"It’s diverting attention from finding workable solutions and the true, probably much more complex, causes.”

However, Graham Rook, emeritus professor of medical microbiology at University College London, has proposed an alternative version of the theory.

His ‘Old Friends’ thesis contends that lack of exposure to microbes that have been familiar to humans since the Stone Age is really responsible.

He said modern homes had a less diverse mix of microbes than rural homes of the past. But he said the amount of cleaning we do of the places we now live makes little difference.


No comments: