By John Salak –
Asthma affects one in 12 people in the U.S., which amounts to almost 27 million individuals. It includes about 5 million children, making it the leading chronic disease in people under 18, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports.
While greater disease risks abound, the foundation notes on average about 10 Americans die each day from asthma, which amounts to more than 3,500 annually. What may be more concerning is that the latest data reveals that asthma-related deaths rose for the first time in 20 years in 2020.
The reasons for the rise in asthma and related deaths aren’t entirely clear, but several factors likely contribute to these unhealthy gains. These include pollution, urbanization, climate change and even the increase in allergy sufferers, according to the World Health Organization.
Another cause may have just been identified as well: inhaling indoor cooking fumes and smells from burning candles. A new study by Denmark’s Aarhus University suggests those who suffer from asthma need to be on guard against getting too much of these scents and smells, no matter how alluring they may be.
“Our study shows that indoor air pollution caused by fumes from cooking and burning candles can lead to adverse health effects such as irritation and inflammation in young individuals with mild asthma. Among other things, we’ve found indications of DNA damage and signs of inflammation in the blood,” reported study co-author Karin Rosenkilde Laursen.
Turning on an oven, firing up a pan or lighting candles can release ultrafine particles and gases which can be then inhaled, which previous studies warned can present various health risks. The Danish study sharpened its research to focus on the impact of these particles on those with mild asthma, particularly the young between 18 and 25.
“In the study, we observed that even very young individuals with mild asthma can experience discomfort and adverse effects if the room is not adequately ventilated during cooking or when burning candles. Young people are generally fitter and more resilient than older and middle-aged individuals. Therefore, it is concerning that we observed a significant impact from the particles on this particularly young age group,” Rosenkilde Laursen reported.
The research, however, went further to note that inhaling these indoor fumes may create potential serious health risks to others as well, especially with the approach of the colder autumn and winter months.
“Even though the study focused on young asthmatics, its findings are interesting and relevant for all of us. Winter is approaching, a time when we tend to light many candles and perhaps are less likely to open doors and windows while cooking. By prioritizing a healthier indoor climate, even when we’re cozying up indoors, we may be able to help reduce the incidence of serious lung and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer,” she warned.