Rx for Readers

I would like to know if there is a higher incidence of lung problems in Beit Shemesh than in other places in Israel.

asthma 298.88 (photo credit: American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology)
asthma 298.88
(photo credit: American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology)
I was born on a moshav with orange orchards, and as children, we often cut open oranges that had thick peels and ate the white inner part, which I have since learned is called albedo. To me, it is tasty, but other people just throw it away. Does it provide any nutritional benefits, or might it be harmful? - Y.O., Jerusalem Veteran clinical dietitian Olga Raz at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center replies: I also eat the white inner part of orange (called mesocarp, pith or albedo) and I like it even more the fruit itself. I often eat it instead of the orange. It is tasty, has no calories and offers many benefits, including a lot of soluble fiber and pectin, phytonutrients that help fight cancer, polymethoxylated flavonones (PMFs), which can lower cholesterol. Flavonones, a kind of flavonoid, can lower the risk of colorectal, esophageal and stomach cancers and may also improve blood profiles, including lowering the level of bad cholesterol (LDL). I am sure that if there were more studies on albedo, more healthy properties would be discovered. I have lived in Beit Shemesh for nearly eight years and was recently diagnosed with sarcoidosis in the lungs. I had been coughing for over a year, and the x-rays showed it began developing a few years ago. I would like to know if there is a higher incidence of lung problems, including asthma and sarcoidosis, in Beit Shemesh than in other places in Israel. We may be considering moving to Safed. Would that be a better choice? - R.Z., Beit Shemesh Dr. Gabriel Izbicki, a lung expert at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center, comments: Sarcoidosis is a disease of unknown cause that leads to inflammation and can affect various organs in the body. In normal conditions, the immune system defends the body from harmful or foreign material and sends white cells to protect organs that are endangered. These cells release chemicals that bring in other cells to isolate and destroy the harmful material. This results in inflammation, which goes away once the harmful substance is destroyed. When a person suffers from sarcoidosis, the inflammation doesn't disappear, but rather some of the immune system cells cluster to form lumps called granulomas in various parts of the body. This is sarcoidosis, and while the condition can affect any organ, it most often affects or begins in the lungs, skin, lymph nodes, liver or eyes. More rarely, it can affect the brain and the heart. But many people with sarcoidosis have no symptoms or only mild symptoms. Many people recover from the disease with few or no long-term problems, but it can return after remission. As far as I know, there is no higher incidence of lung sarcoidosis and/or other lung diseases in Beit Shemesh. When choosing a place to live, an important consideration is air pollution. The cause of sarcoidosis is not established, although although there are some possible environmental causes including exposure to certain chemicals. You did not say whether you are exposed to chemicals at work or at home. In any case, it's a mistake to decide to move elsewhere without proof that something in Beit Shemesh is causing the problem. Prof. Mordechai Kramer, director of pulmonary medicine at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva and an assistant professor at Tel Aviv University's Sackler Medical School, adds: There is no increased incidence of sarcoidosis in Beit Shemesh. Sarcoidosis is not such a rare disease, and it has no specific geographical or environmental association. So the disease should not be the reason for moving elsewhere. Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to jsiegel@jpost.com, giving your initials, age and residence.