|Volume 6 Issue 351 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 16-Dec-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 17-Dec-2004||Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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Searching for the cause for sarcoidosis
In a large study involving 10 clinical research centers throughout the United States, researchers found strong positive associations between the disease sarcoidosis and occupational exposure to insecticides in both agricultural and industrial settings, as well as with occupational exposure to "moldy" and "musty" environments.
The investigators studied 706 newly diagnosed sarcoidosis patients, together with an equal number of age-race-, and sex-matched control subjects. They were trying to understand what environmental and occupational exposures were associated with the disease. (Although it has no known etiology, sarcoidosis is an illness in which abnormal clusters of inflammatory cells called granulomas form in many organs of the body, especially in the lungs. In those organs, inflammation can lead to scarring and cyst formation.)
The authors noted that one of the strongest positive associations in the study was for occupational exposure to insecticides at any time before participation in the study, particularly in the 3 years preceding diagnosis. They point out that agricultural workers encounter high levels of exposure to chemicals and aerosolized particulates, including grains, bedding materials, silicates, animal proteins, insect proteins, fungi, bacteria, mycotoxins, and endotoxins. They pointed out that exposure to tobacco smoke at any time in the past seemed to provide a strong negative association with sarcoidosis, a finding which they could not explain.
The study appears in the second issue for December 2004 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.