Health & WellnessS


Nicotine Benefits

Researchers have long been aware that fewer smokers get Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases than non-smokers. Up to April l992, of the 17 studies on Alzheimer's and smoking which had been published in peer-reviewed journals, 13 reported a reduced risk for smokers and only four found no difference between smokers and non-smokers. Similar findings have been published on the effect of smoking and Parkinson's disease.


Deadly mosquito has landed in Britain

A Mosquito which can carry a host of deadly diseases has entered Britain.

Two Asian tiger mosquitoes, which can transmit up to 23 infections - including West Nile virus and dengue fever - were found in a suburban back garden.


Doctor's studies links dairy to cancer risk

The last thing you want to wear into Dr. Robert Bibb's dermatology office is a dark tan and a milk mustache.

"A tan is the body's response to damage," said Bibb, who suspected that ultraviolet A rays were more than innocent bystanders to sun damage years before it became popular knowledge. Now, dairy products and their link to hormonally sensitive cancers is on his radar. While dermatologists routinely advise patients to get their vitamin D from dietary sources instead of sunlight, Bibb doesn't want them getting it from yogurt and cheese.

He's working on a book titled "Death by Dairy" to warn consumers about a possible dietary danger.


Poison found in kids' clothes from China

Poison in children's clothing is emerging as the latest health risk from China.

TV3's Target programme will this week detail how scientists found formaldehyde in woollen and cotton clothes at levels 500 times higher than is safe.

It questions why there are no New Zealand safety standards for clothes.

Light Saber

Flashback Mechanism of nicotine's learning effects explored

While nicotine is highly addictive, researchers have also shown the drug to enhance learning and memory - a property that has launched efforts to develop nicotine-like drugs to treat cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

A key problem in designing such drugs has been that little was known about the detailed mechanism by which nicotine exerts its learning-enhancing effects.

Now, researchers have discovered important details of how nicotine adjusts the signaling properties of neuronal wiring to enhance memory. Such signaling properties include the strength of the connections by which one neuron triggers another. Huibert Mansvelder and colleagues reported their findings in the April 5, 2007, issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.

Magic Wand

Brain cells work differently than previously thought: Nicotine helps to spark creativity

Scientists know that information travels between brain cells along hairlike extensions called axons. For the first time, researchers have found that axons don't just transmit information - they can turn the signal up or down with the right stimulation.

This finding may help scientists develop treatments for psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia in which it is thought that different parts of the brain do not communicate correctly with each other.

"Until now, scientists have thought that in the brain's cortex -- where most cognitive processes occur -- information was only processed in the cell body," said Raju Metherate, author of the study, associate professor of neurobiology and behavior, and director of the Center for Hearing Research at UC Irvine. "The result of our study suggests that we must consider the axons as sites of information processing - and of potential problems when things go wrong."

This study appears online Aug. 19 in Nature Neuroscience.

Magic Wand

The meaning of dreams

The one third of our lives that we spend asleep is an enigma to scientists. They still don't even clearly understand why we have to sleep.

But perhaps the greatest puzzle of all is the role of dreaming, which great thinkers have puzzled over for millennia.

To the ancients, dreams led to divine inspiration; Aristotle held that in dreams the sleeper saw things that he wished or intended to do, while Thomas Nashe, the 16th-century pamphleteer, wrote them off as "a bubbly scum or froth of the fancy which the day hath left undigested".


Dark fruit and veg may fight colon cancer cells

Dark-coloured fruits and vegetables may help to protect against colon cancer, research has shown.

Scientists found that the chemicals that give foods such as grapes, radishes, purple carrots and bilberries their colour significantly slow the growth of colon cancer cells.

Evidence from experiments on rats and on human colon cancer cells suggests that anthocyanins, the compounds that colour most red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables, slow the growth of the cells by anything from 50 to 80 per cent.


Flashback Male genital mutilation could save millions from HIV infection, AIDS conference told - and be an almost unlimited source for Western facial cream

Male circumcision could prevent millions of HIV infections every year and play a major role in controlling the virus' spread in developing nations, a major AIDS conference was told Tuesday.

Comment: The logic behind this is almost incomprehensible. Why stop there? Why not cut off women's breasts to prevent breast cancer? Remove a lung to cut lung cancer by 50%. The absurdities are boundless.

"It is important that, while circumcision interventions are being planned, several points must be considered carefully. If the experiment fails, Africans are likely to feel abused and exploited by scientists who recommended the circumcision policy. In a region highly sensitive to previous colonial exploitation and suspicious of the biological warfare origin of the virus, failure of circumcision is likely to be a big issue. Those recommending it should know how to handle the political implications." - James P.M. Ntozi

See the SOTT forum topic Bogus Evidence That Male Circumcision Prevents HIV Spread for more information.


Mandatory mutilation: President Bush's $15 billion anti-AIDS program to fund circumcision

President Bush's $15 billion anti-AIDS program will begin investing significant money in making circumcision available to African men seeking to protect themselves from HIV, top U.S. health officials said Sunday.

Recent research showing that circumcision dramatically cuts the rate of HIV infection is highly convincing, a delegation of U.S. officials, led by Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, told reporters in Johannesburg.