The Great British Bake Off has inspired many an amateur to start kneeding, mixing and rolling, but according to experts, home bakers could unwittingly be putting their health at risk.
The charity Asthma UK has warned that those catching the baking bug may be at a greater risk of developing the respiratory condition as a result of flour dust.
A new study, presented at the European Respiratory Society's International Congress yesterday, identified flour as the main cause of occupational asthma in France, with baking the trigger for one in five cases of the condition.
Those breathing in substances called 'respiratory sensitisers' over a long period of time, typically as part of their job, can cause people to develop asthma, with long-term exposure sometimes leading to severe symptoms.
While in the UK, the current major cause of occupational asthma is chemicals used in spray painting and foam moulding, dust and flour is also listed, affecting not just bakers, but farm workers and grain transporters.
Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, told the Daily Mail: "Baking is not only a career but it is also a hobby enjoyed by millions of people in the UK, as we have seen with the popularity of the Great British Bake Off, and this study highlights just how important it is that occupational asthma is taken seriously."
She added: "An estimated 3,000 new cases are reported in the UK each year and bakers are about 80 times more likely to develop occupational asthma than the average worker due to exposure to flour and other bakery dusts.
"We urge anyone who regularly bakes, or who is a baker by profession, and who has experienced breathing problems to discuss these with their GP."
The study found that flour dust was to blame for 20 per cent of the 330 cases looked at, with women more likely to be diagnosed than men.
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