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Bio-News: Health and Longevity

Easy on the sunblock: solar UV has unexpected health benefits
(May 8, 2013)

The health benefits of exposing skin to sunlight may far outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer, according to scientists. Edinburgh University research suggests sunlight helps reduce blood pressure, cutting heart attack and stroke risks and even prolonging life. UV rays were found to release a compound that lowers blood pressure.

Read more. Source: BBC

Aspirin may 'slow elderly brain decline'
(Oct 4, 2012)

An aspirin a day may slow brain decline in elderly women at high risk of cardiovascular disease, research finds. Around 500 at risk women, between the ages of 70 to 92, were tracked for five years - their mental capacity was tested at the start and end of the study. Those taking aspirin for the entire period saw their test scores fall much less than those who had not.

Read more. Source: BBC

Staphylococcus aureus
Staphylococcus aureus
Vitamin B3: an alternative to antibiotics?
(Aug 28, 2012)

US scientists have found that B3, also known as nicotinamide, boosts the ability of immune cells to kill Staphylococcus bacteria. Doses much higher than found in normal diets, were used to increase the numbers and efficiency of neutrophils, the white blood cells that can kill and eat harmful bugs. Antibiotics are the drug of choice right now for battling bacteria, especially Staphylococcus aureus, but the bugs are becoming increasingly resistant to this. Vitamin B3 may be the way to stimulate the immune system to provide a natural immune response.

Read more. Source: BBC

woman singing
Relief for bruised vocal cords
(Aug 21, 2012)

A gel, known as polyethylene glycol 30, may be available by 2013 to help allieviate lost pliability on vocal cords. When vocal cords are strained, either by use or surgery, the body tends to create scar tissue there. Since this scar tissue is not as flexible, a person ends up sounding hoarse. Polyethylene glycol 30 can flutter about 200 times per second in response to air pressure changes, or about the same speed as a female during conversation. This would not be a permanent cure however and regular injections would be needed, possibly every three months.

Read more. Source: BBC

couch potato
Live long – and don't be a couch potato
(Jul 10, 2012)

Surprise, surprise: sitting around too much can shorten your life. A new estimate based on results from five population studies in the US suggests that limiting the amount of time spent sitting around could add an average of 2 years to life expectany. Similarly, restricting TV-watching to two hours per day could increase lifespan by 1.4 years.

Read more. Source: BBC

Skin cells from patients with advanced heart failure were turned into beating heart cells in a dish that were young and healthy
Skin from heart attack patients transformed into beating heart cells
(May 23, 2012)

Scientists have turned skin tissue from heart attack patients into fresh, beating heart cells in a first step towards a new therapy for the condition. The procedure may eventually help scores of people who survive heart attacks but are severely debilitated by damage to the organ. By creating new heart cells from a patient's own tissues, doctors avoid the risk of the cells being rejected by the immune system once they are transplanted.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

bionic eye implant
Light-powered bionic eye invented to help restore sight
(May 15, 2012)

A retinal implant – or bionic eye – which is powered by light has been invented by scientists at Stanford University in California. Implants currently used in patients need to be powered by a battery. The new device, described in the journal Nature Photonics, uses a special pair of glasses to beam near infrared light into the eye.

Read more. Source: BBC

laughing woman
Being an optimist 'may protect against heart problems'
(Apr 18, 2012)

Being cheerful may protect against heart problems, say US experts. Happy, optimistic people have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, a Harvard School of Public Health review of more than 200 studies – reported in Psychological Bulletin – suggests. While such people may be generally healthier, scientists think a sense of well-being may lower risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Read more. Source: BBC

Daily aspirin 'prevents and possibly treats cancer'
(Mar 21, 2012)

Taking a low dose of aspirin every day can prevent and possibly even treat cancer, fresh evidence suggests. The three new studies published by The Lancet add to mounting evidence of the drug's anti-cancer effects. Many people already take daily aspirin as a heart drug.

Read more. Source: BBC

Neural interfaces would be embedded in nerve trunks to read and transmit signals
New generation bionics – wireless and touch-sensitive
(Mar 14, 2012)

A new generation of bionics which can connect wirelessly with the nervous system and feel are under development. Animal tests have already been conducted in which devices are implanted directly into the nerve to process and transmit signals wirelessly to an external device. Other researchers are developing prosthetic skin which might wrap around a bionic limb and feed back sensory information to the nervous system, in theory enabling users to detect and feel objects.

Read more. Source: BBC

Stem cells used to 'heal' heart attack scars
(Feb 14, 2012)

Damage caused by a heart attack has been healed using stem cells gathered from the patient's own heart, according to doctors in the US. The amount of scar tissue was halved in the small safety trial reported in the Lancet medical journal. The authors said there was also an "unprecedented" increase in new heart muscle.

Read more. Source: BBC

How exercise may keep Alzheimer's at bay
(Jan 18, 2012)

Alzheimer’s disease, with its inexorable loss of memory and self, understandably alarms most of us. This is especially so since, at the moment, there are no cures for the condition and few promising drug treatments. But a cautiously encouraging new study from The Archives of Neurology suggests that for some people, a daily walk or jog could alter the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or change the course of the disease if it begins.

Read more. Source: New York Times

Catching a yawn 'a family matter'
(Dec 8, 2011)

Contagious yawning may show the closeness of your relationships rather than your tiredness, say scientists. The act of yawning gets more blood flowing around the brain. The fact that it is contagious has never been fully explained, but one theory suggests it is linked to empathy between people.

Read more. Source: BBC

close-up of the eye
Doctor trials laser treatment to change eye color
(Nov 8, 2011)

A US doctor is trying to pioneer a laser treatment that changes patients' eye color. Dr Gregg Homer claims 20 seconds of laser light can remove pigment in brown eyes so they gradually turn blue. He is now seeking up to $750,000 of investment to continue clinical trials.

Read more. Source: BBC

older people jogging
Signs of ageing halted in the lab
(Nov 3, 2011)

The onset of wrinkles, muscle wasting and cataracts has been delayed and even eliminated in mice, say researchers in the US. It was done by "flushing out" retired cells that had stopped dividing. They accumulate naturally with age. The scientists believe their findings could eventually "really have an impact" in the care of the elderly.

Read more. Source: BBC

Aspirin cuts cancer risk in people with an inherited susceptibility
(Oct 29, 2011)

Some people with a family history of cancer could halve their risk of developing the disease by taking daily doses of aspirin, according to the results of a 10-year trial of the treatment. The study shows that regularly taking the medicine cuts the risk of bowel cancer by more than 60% in those with a particular genetic predisposition to get the disease – as well as reducing the risk of other hereditary cancers.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

A brain implant allowed monkeys not only to move a virtual arm but also to experience tactile sensations. Photograph: Katie Zhuang
Monkeys use mind control to move a virtual arm and experience touch
(Oct 6, 2011)

A brain implant that allows monkeys to move an avatar's arm and feel objects in a virtual world has been demonstrated for the first time. The animals used the device to control the arm by thought alone, and feel the texture of the objects it touched through electrical signals sent directly to their brains.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

Coffee may prevent depression, scientists say
(Oct 3, 2011)

Women who drink two or more cups of coffee a day are less likely to get depressed, research suggests. It is not clear why it might have this effect, but the authors believe caffeine in coffee may alter the brain's chemistry. Decaffeinated coffee did not have the same effect.

Read more. Source: BBC

Chocolate may protect the brain and heart
(Aug 30, 2011)

Eating high levels of chocolate could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, according to a review of previous research. Data from 114,009 patients suggested risk was cut by about a third, according to a study published on the BMJ website. But the researchers warned that excessive consumption would result in other illnesses.

Read more. Source: BBC

15-minute daily exercise is 'bare minimum for health'
(Aug 16, 2011)

Just 15 minutes of exercise a day can boost life expectancy by three years and cut death risk by 14%, research from Taiwan suggests. Experts in The Lancet say this is the least amount of activity an adult can do to gain any health benefit. Meanwhile, work in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests a couch potato lifestyle with six hours of TV a day cuts lifespan by five years.

Read more. Source: BBC

sun tanning
Tanning: Let the sunshine in
(Jul 26, 2011)

While we love to get a tan, there's huge pressure to apply high factor sunscreen – or to get the bronzing without the sun with a fake tan. Beneath this apparent orthodoxy, there's an acrimonious debate between the experts who insist that sunshine is a toxic force against which we need constant protection and those who accuse big business of promoting "sun phobia" for commercial reasons, thus putting us at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Who should we believe?

Read more. Source: The Independent

old chimpanzee
Age-related brain shrinking is unique to humans
(Jul 26, 2011)

The brains of our closest relatives, unlike our own, do not shrink with age. The findings suggest that humans are more vulnerable than chimpanzees to age-related diseases because we live relatively longer. Our longer lifespan is probably an adaptation to having bigger brains, the team suggests in their Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper.

Read more. Source: BBC

man swimming
Seven steps to avoid dementia
(Jul 21, 2011)

Playing chess in old age and going jogging or swimming could be the best preventative measures against the development of the degenerative Alzheimer's disease that affects one in 14 people aged 65 or over. Along with five other factors – controlling weight, blood pressure and diabetes, avoiding depression and quitting smoking – keeping mentally and physically fit could dramatically cut the incidence of dementia.

Read more. Source: The Independent

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the Beatles
Transcendental Meditation: Not so crazy after all these years
(Jul 12, 2011)

TM, as its followers call it, is rapidly becoming respectable and mainstream thanks to a growing body of scientific evidence which indicates that regular meditators can expect to enjoy reductions in heart attack, stroke and early mortality. And the apparent benefits don't stop there: according to a pilot study just published in the US journal Military Medicine, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars showed a 50% reduction in their symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after eight weeks of TM.

Read more. Source: The Independent

synthetic windpipe
First synthetic windpipe transplant carried out
(Jul 8, 2011)

The world's first synthetic organ transplant has been conducted at the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. The organ was manufactured by scientists in London from an artificial trachea (windpipe) coated with stem cells from the patient. Significantly, the technique does not need a donor and carries zero risk of the organ being rejected, and the artificial trachea can be made within days.

Read more. Source: BBC

More sleep, better atheltic performance, research shows
(Jul 7, 2011)

When Stanford University's male basketball team was asked to sleep for 10 hours a night for around six weeks, their shooting accuracy improved by 9%. The study, carried out at Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, found that getting enough sleep and rest was as important as training and diet for elite athletes. The research reinforces the notion that getting enough sleep is a positive thing which helps performance in all aspects of life.

Read more. Source: BBC

healthy elderly couple
Researcher forecasts an end to aging
(Jul 5, 2011)

Gerontologist Aubrey de Grey believes that the first person who will live to be 150 has already been born. And the first person to live for 1,000 years could be less than 20 years younger. De Grey sees a time when people will go to their doctors for regular "maintenance," which will include gene therapies, stem cell therapies, immune stimulation, and a range of other advanced medical techniques to keep them in good shape.

Read more. Source: Reuters

green salad
Extreme diet said to cure type 2 diabetes
(Jun 24, 2011)

People who have suffered from obesity-related type 2 diabetes for years have been cured, at least temporarily, by keeping to an extreme, low-calorie, diet for two months, scientists report today. The discovery, announced by researchers at Newcastle University, England, overturns previous assumptions about type 2 diabetes, which was thought to be a lifelong illness.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

fruit and vegetables
Outbreak of E. coli involves new strain
(Jun 3, 2011)

The outbreak of deadly E. coli infection centered in Germany is due to a totally new strain of the bacterium, scientists say. More tna 1,500 people have come down with the illness and 18 have died from it so far. The source of infection remains unclear, despite popular rumors that Spanish cucumbers were to blame. Young females have been hit particularly hard by the infection.

Read more. Source: BBC

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