Latest research news

May 24, 2006

Keeping fit may stave off Alzheimer's, say scientists
Balance problems and a weak handshake are early signs of dementia, according to a new study which suggests regular exercise is a good way to keep your brain healthy. Researchers had expected the first signs of Alzheimer's disease to be mental. But after following nearly 2,300 elderly people for six years they found that those who were physically more able were up to three times less likely to develop the condition. Among those who did get dementia, the first signs were problems walking and with balance generally, followed by a weak handgrip.
The Scotsman

Amazing odyssey of the loggerhead turtle
Their epic journeys over hundreds of miles each month are among the longest in the animal kingdom and have remained mostly mysterious, until now. Ten loggerhead turtles were tagged off West Africa two years ago and, using satellite tracking, researchers have been able to uncover their migratory secrets. Nha Pretinha, "my dear little black mother" in Cape Verdean creole, spent most of her time in unprotected international waters, not foraging close to shore as had been thought. Krioula, on the other hand, headed down the coast to the waters of Sierra Leone, before making a return migration after only one year.
The Daily Telegraph

Gene therapy delays inherited blindness
Gene therapy may one day prevent a hereditary form of childhood blindness, researchers say, following a promising study on chickens with the condition. They say the approach, which delayed the onset of blindness in chickens, might one day protect children from becoming blind as the result of an inherited disease called Leber congenital amaurosis. Chickens with the disease are normally born blind. But six out of seven of the chickens which underwent the gene therapy technique while still in the egg hatched out with sight, says Susan Semple-Rowland at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, US, who led the study.
New Scientist

Chew on this: the gum that fights cancer
It freshens breath, protects teeth and even, if you believe the commercials, makes you immensely popular. But Finnish researchers are hoping that chewing gum could soon pull off an even more ambitious trick: helping to stave off cancer. They have made a gum containing a compound that mops up a chemical called acetaldehyde, which has been linked to cancers of the mouth, oesophagus and stomach. The active ingredient, called cysteine, is slowly released through chewing the gum.
Nature

Pollution increases the risk of early death
Diabetics, people with heart failure and arthritis patients who are exposed to high levels of air pollution face an increased risk of death, research showed yesterday. Scientists in the United States compared the condition of patients with a variety of illnesses exposed to average levels of PM10 - particulate matter in the air mainly caused by transport and industry. They found that exposure to higher levels for just two years significantly increased the risk of patients dying. The World Health Organisation has warned that there is no safe limit for exposure to PM10.
The Scotsman

'Statins for all' call to make Britain healthy
Britons are so unhealthy that mass-medication with cholesterol-busting drugs could be the only way to cut heart disease, research reveals. Doctors say soaring obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet and smoking mean that most middle-aged men and women would benefit from taking statins. The drugs - which cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by reducing cholesterol - are usually given to heart attack or stroke victims, or patients with high cholesterol. But new guidelines now mean more than 5million Britons are eligible for the drugs, which could save 20,000 lives a year.
The Daily Mail, The Times

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