There has been a steep rise in people developing hay fever for the first time later on in life, after never having suffered from it as a child. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2030, more than 30 million British people will experience hay fever, over half the entire population.

It’s thought that pollution is mainly to blame, with the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at Worcester University citing increased traffic and poor air quality trapping pollen at ground level.

Another factor is our insistence on cleanliness – recently Swiss scientists claimed that children are more likely to develop hay fever if they don’t grow up with pets.

Climate change and hay fever

Also contributing are the so-called ‘pollen bombs’ that are a result of climate change – concentrations of different types of pollen means that people who have never suffered an allergic reaction before are now at risk.

The good news is that hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen but as we grow older still our immune system is less likely to react, meaning you could grow out of hay fever eventually.

New research has recently been published that – on the surface – seems to suggest that snoring could be a warning sign for women of developing cancer. Predictably, the media jumped on the story and it made headlines in several newspapers.

The NHS has now commented on the press coverage, aiming to put women’s minds at rest and put the research into context for those that are concerned.

Researchers at a university in Greece carried out a large-scale study, part-funded by the European Union, into the health habits of more than 19,000 people. The study recording their age, BMI, smoking status and alcohol consumption – all of which are known to increase the risk of cancer.

Sleep apnoea and snoring

They then recorded how often participants experienced sleep apnoea. Sufferers of this condition often snore and experience partial or complete closure of their airways that result in blood oxygen levels dropping below 90%. They concluded that cancer was more common in women that suffered from sleep apnoea than men who experienced OSA.

The findings were published in the European Respiratory Journal and researchers concluded that severe OSA could be an indicator of cancer in women.

The findings were covered widely in the UK press and now the NHS has given its verdict.

They pointed out that OSA or obstructive sleep apnoea is a relatively common condition. The study found that 2% of those with OSA that were assessed had cancer, but cancer rates were low and the study did not prove that OSA causes cancer. They were also other underlying factors that increase the risk of both cancer and OSA such as diet and exercise that were not taken into account.

OSA can have a significant impact on quality of life, though, and there are treatments that can help manage this condition.

It’s long been thought that snoring is mainly a male problem, but a new study has found that women snore just as much, yet insist – incorrectly – that they don’t make as much noise as their male counterparts.

Researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of Negev, the fastest-growing research centre in Israel, found that nearly 40% of women who declared that they were non-snorers actually recorded severe or very severe intense snoring when they took part in a sleep study.

Nearly 2000 patients were analysed and the research was published recently in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

“We found that although no difference in snoring intensity was found between genders, women tend to underreport the fact that they snore and to underestimate the loudness of their snoring,” reported study co-author Dr Nimrod Maimon. “The fact that women reported snoring less often and described it as milder may be one of the barriers preventing women from reaching sleep clinics for a sleep study.”

Snoring and women

The first stage in the sleep study was a questionnaire that asked participants to rate the severity of their snoring. Then, while sleeping, the volume of snoring was measured with a digital sound meter. Over 1,200 men were assessed compared to 675 women, and one interesting conclusion from the study was that 28% of women self-reported that they didn’t snore – but that was actually true for just 9% of female participants.

Snoring is often a symptom of sleep apnoea, which can have very serious applications, so it’s crucial that women seek help if snoring is interrupting their sleeping habits and having an impact on quality of life.