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HIV could be non-fatal: scientist

HIV could adapt so that it is no longer a life-threatening virus, a leading scientist says.

Roger Short, a professor from Melbourne University's medicine faculty, said it was not in the virus's interest to kill its host.

"If we look into long term future, if humans survive that long, it seems likely that over time the virus, which mutates incredibly rapidly, will eventually adapt so it doesn't kill us," Prof Short said.

"Chimpanzees suffer no disease when infected with HIV, whereas for us it is lethal; can we learn from chimpanzees how to protect ourselves?

Magic Wand

Want to Rewire Your Brain? Study Music

All Those Hours at the Piano Paid Off: A Musician's Brain Recognizes Sound That Carries Emotion

The study, from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., offers a new line of evidence that the brain we end up with is not necessarily the same brain we started out with.

Sun

Vitamin D 'link to high blood pressure'

New research in teenagers links low levels of vitamin D to high blood pressure and high blood sugar, which can lead to ominous early health problems.

The "sunshine" vitamin is needed to keep bones strong, but recent research has linked vitamin D to other possible health benefits. The teen study confirms results seen in adults, linking low levels with risk factors for heart disease, the researchers said.

Teens in the study with the lowest vitamin D levels were more than twice as likely to have high blood pressure and high blood sugar. They were also four times more likely to have metabolic syndrome, defined as have three of more conditions that contribute to heart disease and diabetes - including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, big waists and high cholesterol.

The study's leader, Jared Reis of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said more research will be needed to determine if vitamin D is really behind the health problems and whether getting more would make a difference.

Family

Love Makes Kids Smarter

For some odd reason, it takes constant reminders that we primates need nurturing.

In a recent study of 46 baby chimpanzee orphans, Kim Bard of the University of Portsmouth in England and her colleagues demonstrated that primate babies that have tight relationships with mother figures do much better on cognitive tests than babies who receive only the basics of food, shelter, and friendship with peers.

But this is not breaking news. In fact, it's old news.

In the 1950s, Harry Harlow conducted a series of experiments with baby rhesus monkeys that showed, without a doubt, that lack of love and comfort makes for a crazy monkey.

Harlow constructed a cage that included a wire monkey "mother" topped with a plastic face. In this wire Mom he inserted a bottle. The cages also held an alternative to the wire mother, the same wire and plastic contraption but covered with terry cloth. The baby monkeys spent all their time clinging to the cloth mother and only went to the wire mother to feed, demonstrating that a soft touch beats something to eat any day.

But even more interesting, Harlow's experiments produced really nutty adult monkeys, females who were unable to mother themselves because they had no idea what mother love might be

Comment: What a sad commentary on current state of child-rearing in Britain.


Health

Toxoplasmosis Parasite May Trigger Schizophrenia And Bipolar Disorders

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© Credit: Image courtesy of E. Prandovszky and University of Leeds
Toxoplasma cyst outlined in red fluorescent cyst dye in mouse brain section. Hundreds of parasites are visible in cyst as blue dots (nuclei stained blue) and in surrounding brain tissue.
Science Daily - Scientists have discovered how the toxoplasmosis parasite may trigger the development of schizophrenia and other bipolar disorders.

The team from the University of Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences has shown that the parasite may play a role in the development of these disorders by affecting the production of dopamine -- the chemical that relays messages in the brain controlling aspects of movement, cognition and behaviour.

Toxoplasmosis, which is transmitted via cat faeces (found on unwashed vegetables) and raw or undercooked infected meat, is relatively common, with 10-20% of the UK population and 22% of the US population estimated to carry the parasite as cysts. Most people with the parasite are healthy, but for those who are immune-suppressed -- and particularly for pregnant women -- there are significant health risks that can occasionally be fatal.

Attention

Migraines in pregnancy linked to stroke risk

© Agence France-Presse/Mychele Daniau
A nurse is seen examining a pregnant woman at a hospital in northern France. Migraines in pregnancy could be a clue that a woman is at risk of a stroke, heart disease and blood clots, according to a study by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Migraines in pregnancy could be a clue that a woman is at risk of a stroke, heart disease and blood clots, according to a study by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Researchers led by Cheryl Bushnell, a neurologist at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, trawled through a database of 18 million records of US patients who had been discharged from hospital from 2000-2003.

They found nearly 44,000 cases of pregnant women who had been admitted with a migraine.

Health

Blood type may matter in pancreatic cancer

People with type O blood are less likely to develop cancer of the pancreas than are people with type B blood, a study finds. People with type A or AB blood face a risk that falls somewhere in between, researchers report in the March 18 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Research suggesting that blood type might influence cancer risk first emerged in the 1950s, and the idea has puzzled scientists ever since.

Health

Antidepressant Use Tied to Cardiac Death in Women

Women who use antidepressants appear to be at heightened risk for sudden cardiac death, although the exact nature of the link remains unclear, researchers say. The finding doesn't necessarily mean that antidepressant drugs are dangerous, the researchers said.

"We suspect that their use is a marker for people with worse depression," explained study lead author Dr. William Whang, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. "The elevated risk seems more specific for antidepressant use, but that use may well be a marker of more severe symptoms."

Magnify

More evidence prostate tests overdiagnose cancer

As many as two of every five men whose prostate cancer was caught through a PSA screening test have tumors too slow-growing to ever be a threat, says a new study that raises more questions about the controversial tests.

The work "reinforces the message that we are overdiagnosing prostate cancer," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the new study.

More than 186,000 U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, and nearly 29,000 will die, according to cancer society estimates. Most men over 50 have had a blood test that measures prostate specific antigen, or PSA, mostly for routine screening.

Heart

Furry Companions Healthy For Body And Mind

© Unknown
Want to make fewer trips to the doctor? Get a pet. Want your infant to grow up with fewer allergies and a lower risk of asthma? Get a pet. Want to ease stress? You guessed it.

There is a wealth of research showing how our furry friends are good medicine. It is no mystery to pet lovers.

"They know you're having a bad day and just sit next to you and it really just creates a calmness," said Nancy Eickoff, owner of an 11-year-old cat named Nala.