Research suggests that the regulation of the antioxidant defense system of the body could play an important part in the prevention of asthma. Researchers revealed that in individuals likely to develop asthma the host antioxidant defense system is compromised, and so these people might be less capable of handling environmental exposures which might result in asthma. A relative increase of oxidants over antioxidants, known as oxidative stress, is an important factor in many diseases, which includes asthma.
People have 2 means of building antioxidant defense: the increase of dietary intake of antioxidants, known as the “non-enzymatic approach;” and to strengthen the host defense system to more effectively make use of antioxidant enzyme activity for removing oxidants from the system, known as the “enzymatic approach.”
The researchers adopted a multi-step approach to understanding asthma development, by investigating the non-enzymatic and the enzymatic ways that oxidative stress in asthma development is managed by the body. They specifically focused on the enzymatic defense system which comes before the onset of symptoms and diagnosis of asthma.
Data was collected from 65,732 women without any history of asthma who completed standardized questionnaires regarding asthma symptoms and diagnoses. 150 women with confirmed new asthma development and 294 healthy controls were selected from this group. Antioxidant levels and other enzymes linked to oxidative stress were measured from urine and blood samples before development of asthma. The data from the questionnaires showed that 96% of the women had never smoked and 44% were exposed to secondhand smoke from workplace exposure or husbands.
Secondhand smoke exposure increases asthma risk, and it’s believed that the ability to fight detrimental environmental exposures effects like secondhand smoke by means of antioxidant enzyme defense is extremely important.
The researchers discovered that increased activity of host antioxidant defense enzyme measured before onset of disease was linked to a reduced asthma risk. High levels of an enzyme which prevents platelet-aggregating factor formation, which is linked with asthma, were specifically linked to a reduced asthma risk.