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Health & longevity news archive: November-December 2005

Oily fish is a source of vitamin D
Vitamin D 'can lower cancer risk'
(Dec 28, 2005)

High doses of vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing some common cancers by as much as 50%, US scientists claim. Researchers reviewed 63 old studies and found that the vitamin could reduce the chances of developing breast, ovarian and colon cancer, and others. Experts said more research was needed to draw firm conclusions.

Read more. Source: BBC

scans by the Somatom Definition machine
Double X-rays give 'speedy scan'
(Dec 22, 2005)

A hi-tech scanner has been developed which takes images in less time than it takes the human heart to beat. The Somatom Definition machine contains two X-ray scanners so full body images can be taken twice as fast. Manufacturer Siemens said the scanner, which will be available in the UK next autumn, is ideal for diagnosing heart problems because of its speed. Scanning experts said such technology might reduce the need for more invasive diagnostic techniques.

Read more. Source: BBC

Chocolate may cut heart disease
(Dec 20, 2005)

Researchers have produced more evidence that dark chocolate may help to reduce the risk of serious heart disease. They found eating a few squares a day may stave off artery narrowing and hardening in smokers by countering the disruption caused by their habit. Smoking compromises the activity of both endothelial cells, which line the artery walls, and platelets, which are involved in blood clot formation. The research, by University Hospital, Zurich, is published in Heart.

Read more. Source: BBC

man lifting weights
The secret of 'muscular' old age
(Dec 12, 2005)

Scientists believe they have found a way to enable the elderly to maintain muscle. Muscle is constantly being built and broken down, which works to maintain a balance in young adults. But as people age, the breakdown process is more successful than the muscle-building action. However French researchers, writing in the Journal of Physiology, say adding the amino acid leucine to old people's diets could help them keep muscle.

Read more. Source: BBC

person suffering stress
Stress 'hinders healing process'
(Dec 6, 2005)

The stress caused by a 30-minute row with a spouse is enough to slow wound healing by a day, US researchers say. The Ohio State University team focused on 42 married couples and found wounds on hostile couples healed at 60% of the healing rate for non-hostile couples. The team told the journal Archives of General Psychiatry the findings showed hospitals should try to minimise stress for patients ahead of surgery. This could lead to shorter hospital stays and save money, they added.

Read more. Source: BBC

surgeons operating
Woman has first face transplant
(Dec 1, 2005)

Surgeons in France have carried out the first face transplant, it has been reported. The woman had lost her nose, lips and chin after being savaged by a dog. In the controversial operation, tissues, muscles, arteries and veins were taken from a brain-dead donor and attached to the patient's lower face. Doctors stress the woman will not look like her donor, but nor will she look like she did before the attack - instead she will have a "hybrid" face.

Read more. Source: BBC

Olive oil's heart effect located
(Nov 28, 2005)

Scientists say they have pinpointed the micronutrients in olive oil that make it a good heart protector. Mediterranean diets have long been hailed as cutting heart attack risk. A team of Spanish researchers believes this is partly down to compounds called phenols that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and clot-preventing powers. Virgin or extra virgin olive oils are best because they have the highest phenol content, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reports.

Read more. Source: BBC

Dolphin therapy fights depression
(Nov 25, 2005)

Swimming with dolphins appears to help alleviate mild to moderate depression, researchers have found. A University of Leicester team tested the effect of regular swimming sessions with dolphins on 15 depressed people in a study carried out in Honduras. They found that symptoms improved more among this group than among another 15 who swam in the same area – but did not interact with dolphins.

Read more. Source: BBC

human brain
How singing unlocks the brain
(Nov 20, 2005)

As Bill Bundock's Alzheimer's progressed he became more and more locked into his own world. He withdrew into himself and stopped communicating with his wife, Jean. Jean said Bill lost his motivation, and his desire and ability to hold conversations, but all this changed when the couple started attending a local sing-song group, aimed especially for people with dementia. Jean said Singing for the Brain had unlocked Bill's communication block.

Read more. Source: BBC

white mice
Geneticists claim ageing breakthrough but immortality will have to wait
(Nov 18, 2005)

A genetic experiment to unlock the secrets of the ageing process has created organisms that live six times their usual lifespan, raising hopes that it might be possible to slow ageing in humans. The geneticists behind the study say the increase in lifespan is so striking, they may have tapped into one of the most fundamental mechanisms that controls the rate at which living creatures age. The tests were carried out in single-celled organisms, forcing them into what the researchers refer to as an "extreme survival mode".

Read more. Source: Guardian

blood vessels
Blood vessels grown from patient's skin
(Nov 16, 2005)

The first clinical trial to implant blood vessels grown entirely from a patient's own cells was declared a success yesterday by a team of American scientists. Two patients have so far received transplant blood vessels that were grown in a dish from a clump of their own skin cells. In both cases, the patients were said to be progressing well after their operations and the blood vessels were performing "perfectly".

Read more. Source: Guardian

HIV virus
Mysterious case of the man who claims to have beaten HIV by taking vitamins
(Nov 14, 2005)

A man who claims to be the first in the world whose immune system has been able to beat the HIV virus was facing mounting pressure yesterday to submit to further vital medical tests. Health experts, Aids campaigners and gay rights activists urged Andrew Stimpson to come forward following claims that he has been able to rid his body of the virus after taking little more than vitamins. Activists say that if the claims are true, the phenomenon could potentially bring countless benefits to millions of people infected with HIV.

Read more. Source: Guardian

man on his own
Loneliness could be in your genes
(Nov 13, 2005)

Loneliness may run in the family, researchers have suggested. Teams from the Free University in Amsterdam and the University of Chicago looked at data on 8,000 identical, and non-identical, twins. They found genetics had a significant influence on loneliness. The researchers, whose study appears in Behavior Genetics, said it showed helping lonely people was not simply a matter of changing their environment.

Read more. Source: BBC

woman laughing
Women get a bigger buzz from cartoons
(Nov 9, 2005)

Women get more of a buzz out of cartoons, a brain-imaging study has found, with their brains feeling more rewarded by a funny joke than those of men. Women and men are often perceived as having differences in their senses of humour but, until now, there had been no neurological evidence for such suspicions. The new brain scanning study showed that although men and women tended to agree on which of the single-panel cartoons they were shown were funny, they processed the humour differently in their brains.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Typical female face with high (left) and low (right) oestrogen levels
'Hormonal' women most attractive
(Nov 3, 2005)

Women with high levels of the sex hormone oestrogen have prettier faces, research suggests. The findings make evolutionary sense - men are attracted to the most fertile women, the University of St Andrews team told a Royal Society journal. Oestrogen levels during puberty can impact on appearance by affecting bone growth and skin texture, they said. But make-up masks this effect, allowing less attractive women to compensate for their lack of natural mating cues.

Read more. Source: BBC


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