Health & Wellness
Trying to reap the health benefits of exercise? Forget treadmills and spin classes, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies may have found a way around the sweat and pain. They identified two signaling pathways that are activated in response to exercise and converge to dramatically increase endurance.
|©Salk Institute for Biological Studies
|Mouse on a treadmill.
The team of scientists, led by Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., a professor in the Salk Institute's Gene Expression Laboratory report in the July 31 advance online edition of the journal Cell
that simultaneously triggering both pathways with oral drugs turned laboratory mice into long-distance runners and conferred many of exercise's other benefits.
In addition to their allure for endurance athletes, drugs that mimic the effects of exercise have therapeutic potential in treating certain muscle diseases, such as wasting and frailty, hospital patients unable to exercise, veterans and others with disabilities as well as obesity and a slew of associated metabolic disorders where exercise is known to be beneficial.
Low levels of naturally occurring antibodies may represent an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke in men. This discovery, published in the academic journal Atherosclerosis, has now led to attempts to develop an immunization against cardiovascular disease.
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is an inflammatory disease in which the walls of the blood vessels are thickened and become less elastic. It can cause blood clots and other cardiovascular diseases. It is not known precisely what causes atherosclerosis, but the immune system probably plays an important role. Research scientists suspect that various oxidised forms of what is known as bad cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), contribute to the development of the disease.
A research team from Karolinska Institutet, in cooperation with Lund University, has now shown that a particular type of naturally occurring antibodies, anti-PC, which are targeted against the lipid portion of the LDL molecule, play an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease. The findings show that individuals who have low levels of anti-PC are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The risk is particularly high in men who develop stroke, with an almost fourfold increase.
Estrogen treatments may sharpen mental performance in women with certain medical conditions, but University of Florida researchers suggest that recharging a naturally occurring estrogen receptor in the brain may also clear cognitive cobwebs.
The discovery suggests that drugs can be developed to offset "senior moments" related to low estrogen levels, as well as to protect against neurological diseases, all while avoiding the problems associated with adding estrogen to the body.
Writing online in Molecular Therapy in July, scientists with UF's McKnight Brain Institute describe how they improved thought processes in female mice bred with the inability to produce estrogen receptor-alpha, a protein apparently necessary for healthy learning and memory.
Tue, 29 Jul 2008 23:45 CDT
MEXICO CITY - Water supplies in Latin America are in danger of contamination as 86 percent of the region's sewage is poured out untreated, the Latin American Water Tribunal (TLA) warned Tuesday.
Wed, 30 Jul 2008 22:31 CDT
International researchers have identified three new DNA variations that increase the risk of schizophrenia and said on Wednesday they were some of the strongest genetic links yet found to the disease.
The results published in two independent studies in the journal Nature also confirmed a previously known genetic variation and could lead to new treatments for the condition that affects around 1 in 100 people, the researchers said.
|©AP Photo/Matt Sayles
|Cars drive past signs for fast food restaurants in Los Angeles on Monday, July 28, 2008. In South Los Angeles, fast food is also the easiest cuisine to find, and that's a problem for elected officials who see it as an unhealthy source of calories and cholesterol. The City Council is poised to vote Tuesday on a moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in a swath of the city where a proliferation of such eateries goes hand in hand with more fat adults and chunky children than other areas of Los Angeles.
City officials are putting South Los Angeles on a diet. The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to place a moratorium on new fast food restaurants in an impoverished swath of the city with a proliferation of such eateries and above average rates of obesity.
The yearlong moratorium is intended to give the city time to attract restaurants that serve healthier food. The action, which the mayor must still sign into law, is believed to be the first of its kind by a major city to protect public health.
"Our communities have an extreme shortage of quality foods," City Councilman Bernard Parks said.
Oxytocin was originally studied as the "milk let-down factor," i.e., a hormone that was necessary for breast-feeding. However, there is increasing evidence that this hormone also plays an important role in social bonding and maternal behaviors. A new study scheduled for publication in the August 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry now shows that one way oxytocin promotes social affiliation in humans is by enhancing the encoding of positive social memories.
Adam J. Guastella, Ph.D. and his colleagues sought to evaluate the effects of oxytocin on the encoding and recognition of faces in humans. They recruited healthy male volunteers and in a double-blind, randomized design, administered either oxytocin or a placebo. They then presented a series of happy, angry and neutral human faces to the volunteers on a computer screen. Participants returned the following day where they were presented with a collection of faces and asked to distinguish the new faces from ones that they saw on the prior day. The results revealed that those who received oxytocin were more likely to remember the happy faces they had seen previously, more so than the angry and neutral faces.
Consuming large quantities of fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acids may explain low levels of heart disease in Japan, according to a study led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health slated for the Aug. 5 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and available online at 5 p.m. ET, today. The study also found that third- and fourth-generation Japanese Americans had similar or even higher levels of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries - a major risk factor for heart disease, compared to white Americans.
The very low rate of heart disease in Japan among developed countries has been puzzling. Death rates from coronary heart disease in Japan have been less than half of that in the U.S. This holds true even among Japanese men born after World War II who adopted a Western lifestyle since childhood, and despite the fact that among these same men, risk factors for coronary heart disease (serum levels of total cholesterol, blood pressure and rates of type 2 diabetes) are very similar among men in the U.S. Additionally, the rate of cigarette smoking, another major risk factor, has been infamously high in Japan.
Less able to achieve their life goals, women end up unhappier than men later in life - even though they start out happier, reveals new research by Anke Plagnol of the University of Cambridge, and University of Southern California economist Richard Easterlin.
Plagnol and Easterlin's study, forthcoming in the Journal of Happiness Studies, is the first to use nationally representative data spanning several decades to examine the role of unfulfilled desires in a person's sense of well-being.
As the researchers explain, expectations of success may vary among those raised in different generations (i.e., an economic depression). Data sets from a range of time periods may also have different demographic compositions.
CHICAGO - For the first time, an experimental drug shows promise for halting the progression of Alzheimer's disease by breaking up the protein tangles that clog victims' brains.