In our last Health Science News Page, we focused on various types of air pollutants and how they affect health worldwide. In this issue, we discuss how micronutrients can help to alleviate the many harmful effects of air pollution. Research and clinical data show that a healthy diet can provide some preventative benefit. Multiple clinical trials are investigating the benefits of micronutrients in averting the harmful effects of air pollution, and the major micronutrients that may help are the B group of vitamins, vitamins C and E, phytobiologicals, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Air pollution is one of the most serious environmental problems in today’s world. Except for occasional natural events such as volcanic eruptions and wildfires, human activities are the sole contributor for the disastrous levels of particulate matter that is present in the air. Air pollution is the presence of excessive biological or chemical compounds in the air due to many things such as transportation, industrialization, agriculture, dust, household energy consumption, waste production and so on. Ozone emission is a major part of air pollution in cities and creates smog. In general, a modern life style and urbanization has resulted in more than 91% of the world’s population living in places where the air quality is detrimental to health.
Hemangiomas are the most common birth defect involving malformations of blood vessels leading to benign tumors in infants and children. Approximately 4-10% of infants are born with at least one hemangioma. A recent increase in the incidence of hemangiomas in the United States is found to be linked with the increase in the frequency of low birth weight infants. More frequently seen in Caucasians than African Americans or Asians, the hemangiomas are five times more common in females than males.
With the approaching summer season, we discussed some aspects of vector borne diseases mainly, Lyme disease in the last section of the Health Science News Page. Lyme disease (LD) was first widely recognized in 1975 by Old Lyme in Connecticut, USA, and today it results in approximately 30,000 cases per year in the USA and 65-80,000 cases in Europe. However due to misdiagnoses and underreporting, it is thought that the actual number of Lyme disease cases could be close to 300,000. And recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the insect borne diseases have tripled in the last decade.
According to a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), insect-borne diseases in the US have tripled over a period from 2004 through 2016. Ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas are the most common carriers of diseases. These types of biting insects are referred to as vectors. Since 2004, nine additional insect-borne diseases were discovered in the USA. With worldwide weather patterns changing, the longer hotter summer seasons are thought to be one of the leading causes of the increase in vector-borne diseases. Warm weather influences the breeding habits as well as the expansion of the territories of mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Additionally, increased intercontinental travel and reforestation of suburban areas expose more people to insects and wildlife carrying these vectors.
Healthy skin is the first barrier to prevent any wounds and it is the crucial component in would repair. The skin is the largest organ in the body and it is a mirror of the health of the body’s internal organs. In addition to protection of inner tissue structures, the skin helps in regulation of body temperature and elimination of metabolic waste products.
It is estimated that 6.5 million people in the US struggle with slow wound healing because of various reasons which include diabetes, obesity, and long-term disability such as stroke, spinal cord injury, and multiple sclerosis.
Everybody has experienced wounds either after an injury or surgery and most of the wounds heal naturally in an otherwise healthy person. A wound that does not heal or does not show signs of healing after two weeks is considered a slow-healing or a chronic wound and requires special care from a wound care facility to prevent infection and further complications and to accelerate the recovery process.
Bone fractures are one of the most painful injuries and require a lengthy recovery time. Everyone is at an equal risk of breaking a bone either from a fall, sports activities, or a car accident. However, bone fractures are more common and take longer to heal in people suffering from osteoporosis.
The most common bone fracture, especially in active adults and children, is a broken leg and often involves a tibial (or shinbone) fracture. In the US, approximately 492,000 tibial fractures are reported every year resulting in close to 400,000 hospital days. The usual time for healing a tibial fracture could be as long as 12 to 16 weeks. This is due to a high incidence of complications requiring strong painkillers for the patient.
It is a popular perception that calcium and vitamin D are essential nutrients for healthy bones. However, few people are aware that bone health largely depends on its protein foundation – the collagen fibers. The alignment of collagen fibers within the bone (its “internal skeleton”) determine how calcium and other minerals are deposited, and therefore healthy collagen is the basis of the strength and stability of the entire bone.
The skeletal system is made up of bones and joints and provides support, mobility, and protection to various organs in the body. We are born with more than 300 bones. Many of them, such as the skull bones, fuse together and as an adult we have 206 bones. The largest bone in the human body is the femur (thigh bone) and the smallest bones in the human body are the three bones of the middle ear. Maximum bone growth occurs during childhood and puberty, and tapers off as the person approaches 16-18 years of age. While the bones do not grow in size after 18-20 years, they do not remain just as stagnant, hard and inert structures. Continuous metabolic processes called bone remodeling, during which bone is resorbed and formed again occur throughout our life. A major role in this process is played by specialized cells in the skeletal system called osteoblasts which are bone lining cells, and osteoclasts which are bone dissolving cells. Our entire skeleton is renewed every few years and it is estimated that at any time about 20% of an adult bone is undergoing remodeling.