Brain deficits found in relatives of autism sufferers
People can have physical brain abnormalities similar to those found in autistic individuals without having the disorder themselves. These results come from two studies, which were presented at a conference over the weekend. Brain scans show striking similarities between the brains of autistic patients and those of their non-autistic parents and siblings. The results are prompting researchers to ask how some people can be unaffected by brain deficits that cause such pronounced behavioural abnormalities in others.
Ecstasy may damage the brain’s physical defences
The drug ecstasy reduces the brain’s defences, reveals a new study of rats, leaving it vulnerable to invasion by viruses and other pathogens. The researchers behind the study warn of "clinical considerations which may apply to the treatment of people who abuse MDMA". For example, anaesthetics could find it easier to penetrate the brain, "greatly increasing the risk of unwanted sedation". And they say infections could cause permanent damage to brain cells or alter the ability of the brain to function normally.
Over-50s who just jog along can live four years longer
People over 50 who take regular exercise live nearly four years longer, new research has found. Academics studied data about the health of more than 5,000 people in the United States over nearly half a century to discover the effects of physical activity in later life. They found that men and women who said they engaged in high levels of physical activity lived 3.7 years and 3.5 years longer respectively than those who did little exercise. However, those struggling to exert themselves regularly may have been born "couch potatoes" because of their genetic make-up, according to a separate study.
Lakes and rivers show recovery from acid rain as sulphur levels halve
Lakes and rivers are recovering from the destructive effects of acid rain as the amount of acidic sulphur in the UK's waters has halved in the past 15 years. Fish, plants and insects have been repopulating waterways damaged by acid rain, according to research to be published today by University College London. Acid rain caused declines of salmon and trout in Welsh rivers and the loss of many natterjack toads in southern England.
The Financial Times
Daily glass of juice keeps arthritis at bay
Drinking a glass of orange juice a day may help stave off arthritis, new research suggests. Certain carotenoids, compounds commonly found in some fruits and vegetables, appear to be responsible for the positive effects. The findings from previous studies have suggested that dietary carotenoids, the chemicals responsible for the orange and yellow coloring of fruits and vegetables, can reduce inflammation through antioxidant effects. Dr. Alan J. Silman, from The University of Manchester in the UK, and colleagues analyzed data from a study of more than 25,000 subjects to investigate the association between dietary carotenoids and arthritis risk.
The Daily Mail
Space station research faces axe as Nasa cuts $344m to save Moon and Mars quest
The most expensive science experiment in the history of the world is nearing collapse after its main sponsor, Nasa, announced plans to slash hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget. The space agency plans to save $344 million (£198 million) next year by halting research aboard the International Space Station into the effects of space radiation on humans, the design of life support systems, and advanced environmental controls.