Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Junk food linked to asthma and eczema in children

The last sentence below is the operational one

Eating junk food just three times a week may lead to asthma and eczema in children, scientists have found.

The high saturated fat levels in food such as burgers lower children's immune systems, it is believed.

A research project involving more than 50 countries found that teenagers who ate junk food three times a week or more were 39 per cent more likely to get severe asthma. Younger children were 27 per cent more at risk.

Both were also more prone to the eye condition rhinoconjunctivitis, according to The Sun newspaper

But just three weekly portions of fruit and vegetables could cut that risk by 14 per cent in the younger group and 11 per cent among the teens, it is believed.

Researchers from New Zealand's Auckland University looked at the diets of 181,000 youngsters aged six to seven and 319,000 aged 13-14.

The scientists then asked if the children had allergy symptoms.

They wrote in the journal Thorax, where the study is published: "Fast food may be contributing to increasing asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema.

"Regular consumption of fruit and vegetables is likely to protect against these diseases."

In the UK alone 1.1 million children already suffer with asthma and one in five get eczema.

The team of researchers warn that their results do not prove cause and effect


Red tape holding back clinical trials

A system of overbearing regulation is preventing researchers from running clinical trials which could lead to new treatments for diseases like cancer, leading experts claim. 

The amount of red tape needed to test new drugs on patient volunteers is still holding back trials despite efforts by ministers to streamline the system, researchers say.

Regulations put in place by the European Union which are designed to protect patients may actually be delaying the development of treatments which could cure them.

Even after being given ethical approval for example, a trial must be signed off by a host of managers at every single site where it is taking place, which can include dozens of hospitals and clinics across Europe.

The director of a leading research institute told the Telegraph: "There is a lot of regulation around clinical trials which many people involved in them say is impairing their ability to do as many trials as they would like to do.

"A lot of people in the field would say there is too much overbearing regulation which is not actually protecting patients at all and is hampering our ability to undertake as many trials as possible."

Judith Bliss, deputy head of clinical studies at the Institute of Cancer Research, said the additional paperwork also added to the cost of trials because more staff are needed to meet the requirements.

She said: "Because the level of paperwork you have to have now ahead of trials is so much more detailed than it was historically, the resources you need have really increased.

"There are less trials being funded because individual trials cost more, and there are very good research questions out there but the trials can not be funded."

The regulatory burden means trials of well-established drugs to treat different diseases - for example the use of the diabetes drug Metformin for cancer patients - are treated as "high risk" despite a wealth of evidence showing the therapy is safe, she said.

"Nobody wants trials to be run badly or on the cheap," she said. "Everyone wants to do safe trials but also wants results to be out as quickly as possible to inform the future treatment of patients."

Prof Peter Johnson, chief clinician of Cancer Research UK said progress had been made in recent years but more work is needed to make the trial process less cumbersome.

He said: "Research has been heavily burdened by regulation, most of which does not contribute to the safety of participants or the quality of information you get from the trial.

"Things never change as fast as you would like them to but it is fair to say the government has taken this seriously and are working to streamline the set-up and conduct of clinical trials."


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