'Living near equator raises allergy, asthma risks'

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 04, 2013 11:00 hrs

Washington, Feb 4 (IANS) People residing near the equator may find themselves sneezing and wheezing more than usual due to exposure to higher ultra violet radiations, says a US study.

"UV-B rays (type of ultraviolet radiation) exposure is higher for people living in areas closer to the equator," said Vicka Oktaria, from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), who led the study.

"This increase in UV-B may be linked to vitamin D which is thought to modify the immune system. These modifications can lead to an elevated risk of developing allergy and asthma," the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reports.

Previous studies have shown that latitude can reflect a variation in airborne allergens due to climate, housing and social and cultural differences. This study is one of the first using the individuals latitude location and UV-B exposure to examine the association with allergy and asthma, according to an ACAAI statement.

"Allergies and asthma are serious diseases that can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated properly," said allergist Richard Weber, president of ACAAI.

"Both conditions can be more than bothersome for people, no matter their geographic location, and can last year-round," Weber said.

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