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Health & longevity news archive: September-October 2005

cloned pigs
Italian laboratory clones 14 pigs
(Oct 29, 2005)

The Italian researchers who produced the first horse clone have announced the birth of 14 cloned piglets. The animals were born several weeks ago at the Laboratory of Reproductive Technology in Cremona. Research leader Prof Cesare Galli said the pigs would help in understanding animal to human organ transplants. Scientists have now cloned sheep, mice, cattle, goats, rabbits, cats, pigs, mules and dogs.

Read more. Source: BBC

ginseng plant
Ginseng 'helps to ward off colds'
(Oct 26, 2005)

Taking the herbal remedy ginseng reduces the risk of developing a cold, a Canadian study says. The University of Alberta team found just one in 10 people taking daily ginseng capsules had two colds or more, compared to a quarter of others. Researchers also found ginseng reduced the severity of colds, the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported. But UK doctors said that while many people did use the herbal remedy, the evidence was still anecdotal.

Read more. Source: BBC

Romanian official holds dead domestic duck culled after discovery of bird flu
The killer at the door
(Oct 16, 2005)

'There's a lot of looting going on in pharmacies, but to no avail.The drugs are being distributed in convoys, with military jeeps in front and behind. Masks costing a dollar are being sold on street corners for $20. E-mailed ads for counterfeit drugs are filling up my inbox.' It sounds the stuff of science fiction; to even describe such a breakdown of society is to invite accusations of alarmist hype and scaremongering. But this imaginary account of an American woman in the middle of a deadly flu pandemic was published last spring in the journal Nature, as part of a special edition it produced on the threat. It wanted to look at how a nation would cope from the very first outbreak to the peak of the disease.

Read more. Source: The Observer

human brain
Brain area 'more than just motor'
(Oct 10, 2005)

A brain area presumed to be involved only in co-ordinating movement also controls higher functions, such as vision, mounting evidence suggests. Traditionally, higher mental processing has been seen as the cerebrum's job - the evolutionary newest and largest part of the brain. The cerebellum or "little brain", which sits below the cerebrum, was thought to control balance and movement. A study of brain-injured infants shows this view is too simplistic.

Read more. Source: BBC

flu virus
1918 killer flu 'came from birds'
(Oct 8, 2005)

The Spanish flu virus that killed up to 50 million people in 1918-19 was probably a strain that originated in birds, research has shown. US scientists have found the 1918 virus shares genetic mutations with the bird flu virus now circulating in Asia. Writing in Nature, they say their work underlines the threat the current strain poses to humans worldwide.

Read more. Source: BBC

people exercising
Exercise now to cut dementia risk
(Oct 5, 2005)

Exercising for half an hour at least twice a week during midlife can significantly cut a person's risk of dementia later, say researchers. People in their late 40s and early 50s who do this could reduce their risk of dementia by about 50%, according to a study reported in Lancet Neurology. Those who are genetically prone to Alzheimer's disease could see a reduction of about 60%, it adds. The Swedish team said the findings had large disease prevention implications.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mona Lisa
A symmetrical face isn't just prettier – it's healthier too
(Oct 2, 2005)

Those fortunate enough to have symmetrical faces have probably already discovered that they attract the opposite sex. Now they are being told such fine features actually mean they are healthier. For the perfectly proportioned face is also an indication that the body it sits atop is well prepared to fight off infection. The common cold, asthma and flu are all more likely to be combated efficiently by those whose left side matches their right.

Read more. Source: Independent

SARS virus
SARS virus may have spread from bats
(Oct 2, 2005)

Bats are the natural hosts of a group of coronaviruses closely related to the virus responsible for deadly outbreaks of SARS among humans, according to a new study. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) triggered a global health crisis after emerging in China's southern Guangdong province in November 2002, causing nearly 800 deaths worldwide, including 349 in China. Scientists are vying to unravel the origins of the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which causes the disease.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

AIDS virus
AIDS virus 'could be weakening'
(Sep 29, 2005)

The virus which causes AIDS may be getting less powerful, researchers say. A team at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, in Antwerp, compared HIV-1 samples from 1986-89 and 2002-03. They found the newer samples appeared not to multiply as well, and were more sensitive to drugs — some other studies argue they are becoming more resistant. The researchers, writing in the journal AIDS, stressed their work in no way meant efforts to prevent the spread of HIV should be scaled down.

Read more. Source: BBC

left-handed woman
Left-handers face greater cancer risk
(Sep 27, 2005)

Left-handed women face double the risk of developing breast cancer before the menopause compared with right-handed women, according to a new study. This sounds like a strange coincidence. But researchers who have just completed a study on the odd association say that exposure to hormone-like chemicals in the womb may be to blame for both.

Read more. Source: Nature

Down's syndrome mice
Down's syndrome recreated in mice
(Sep 23, 2005)

Scientists have been able to introduce most of a human chromosome into mice — and create the most successful recreation of Down's syndrome so far. The Medical Research Council hopes the step will help research into Down's and other chromosomal conditions. They say it is a significant technical development, as it had previously been possible to place only fragments of chromosomes into mouse cells.

Read more. Source: BBC

green tea
Green tea 'cuts Alzheimer's risk'
(Sep 21, 2005)

An ingredient of green tea may help to protect the brain against the ravages of Alzheimer's disease, research in the US suggests. University of South Florida scientists found the component prevented Alzheimer's-like damage in the brains of mice bred to develop symptoms. The component — EGCG — is already strongly suspected of offering protection against certain cancers. The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Read more. Source: BBC

Vitamin C 'helps to fight cancer'
(Sep 16, 2005)

High doses of vitamin C injected into the bloodstream may help fight cancer, a US study says. Scientists found that intravenous vitamin C in the form of ascorbate killed cancer cells in lab tests. The findings contradict earlier studies, but the Maryland-based Institutes of Health said they had looked at lower-dose oral vitamin C.

Read more. Source: BBC

stiff lips
Stiff upper lips may impair memories
(Sep 16, 2005)

Bad news for Brits: keeping a stiff upper lip during upsetting events can impair your memory. James Gross at Stanford University in California and Jane Richards at the University of Texas at Austin showed 57 volunteers a disturbing film about a surgical procedure, then asked them questions about their emotional state, how much effort they put into hiding their feelings, and their memory of events in the film. They found people who made the most effort to keep their emotions in check had the worst recall for what they had seen.

Read more. Source: New Scientist


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