Vitamin D May Make Seniors Smarter

Getting more of the "Sunshine vitamin" may make you brighter later in life, according to a study that bolsters evidence vitamin D may help older people stay mentally fit.

The findings also raise the prospect that people who do not get enough of the vitamin could use supplements to keep the brain fully functioning as they age, David Lee and colleagues at the University of Manchester reported in their study, published Thursday in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.


Certain foods may thwart age-related vision loss

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study suggests that older adults who eat diets rich in citrus fruits, leafy greens and fish oil, but low in "glycemic index," may have a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration -- the leading cause of vision loss among older U.S. adults.

AMD, also known as "age-related macular degeneration" refers to gradual damage to the macula, a structure in the retina that allows for seeing fine detail. The condition affects more than 1 million Americans, usually after the age of 65.

A number of studies have suggested that individual nutrients, including the antioxidants lutein, vitamin C and vitamin E, can help protect against AMD. This latest study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, looked at the overall diet patterns of 4,000 older adults and the links to AMD risk.


Ancient Drug Kava Could Be Safe and Effective

Australian researchers have found that a traditional preparation of the South Pacific herbal medicine Kava, an ancient drug long used for treating stress and insomnia, is safe and effective. A University of Queensland research team conducted a placebo-controlled, world-first clinical trial. It showed that Kava prepared by the traditional method, which uses water, is safe for treating anxiety and improving mood, while the modern European method of preparation, which uses acetone and ethanol, may be responsible for the ill side effects associated with it. MORE>>>>>>>>>>>

Smoking May Boost Fat-Fighting Gene

Offering clues to why smokers often gain weight after quitting, a new study suggests that smoking enhances the activity of a gene that helps break down body fat.

Researchers found that compared with non-smokers, a group of healthy smokers showed greater activity in a gene called AZGP1 in cell samples taken from their airways.

Because the gene is thought to be important in breaking down fat and controlling weight, the findings point to one possible reason that smokers tend to weigh less than non-smokers -- and why people often put on pounds after quitting. MORE>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Formaldehyde Raises Risk of Deadly Cancers

Industrial workers who are exposed to the chemical formaldehyde may have a significantly higher risk of dying from blood and lymphatic cancers, U.S. government researchers said on Tuesday.

A study of more than 25,000 workers at industrial plants that produced formaldehyde and formaldehyde resin found workers with the highest exposures had a 37 percent increased risk of death compared to those with the lowest exposure levels, they reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. MORE>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Put on Your Broccoli: Juice Better Than Sunscreen

An extract made from broccoli sprouts can help protect skin from the sun’s damaging rays, according to researchers at the John Hopkins School of Medicine.

Although a commercial product is still in the early stages of development, it would have definite advantages over sunscreens:

  • First, the natural product would not contain cancer-causing chemicals found in typical sunscreens.
  • Second, it would not interfere with the body’s production of vitamin D. Sunscreens now block sunlight from the skin, thus keeping the body from making vitamin D.

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    Older People Need More Sun to Curb Heart Ills, Diabetes

    Spending more time in the sunshine could help older people reduce their risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

    Older people are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency because of the natural aging process and changes in lifestyle, but exposure to sunlight stimulates vitamin D in the skin.

    Vitamin D deficiency is associated significantly with metabolic syndrome, a combination of medical and metabolic disorders that increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to researchers at the University of Warwick near Coventry, England.


    Trial drugs 'reverse' Alzheimer's

    US scientists say they have successfully reversed the effects of Alzheimer's with experimental drugs.

    The drugs target and boost the function of a newly pinpointed gene involved in the brain's memory formation.

    In mice, the treatment helped restore long-term memory and improve learning for new tasks, Nature reports.

    The same drugs - HDAC inhibitors - are currently being tested to treat Huntington's disease and are on the market to treat some cancers.

    They reshape the DNA scaffolding that supports and controls the expression of genes in the brain.


    Late motherhood boosts family lifespan

    Women who have babies naturally in their 40s or 50s tend to live longer than other women. Now, a new study shows their brothers also live longer, but the brothers' wives do not, suggesting the same genes prolong lifespan and female fertility, and may be more important than social and environmental factors.

    University of Utah demographer Ken R. Smith led a new study confirming that women who have their last baby after age 45 live longer than women who have their last baby at younger ages, and also showing that their brothers live longer too. That suggests the same genes promote both prolonged fertility in women and longevity in both sexes. Credit: Jason Smith, University of Utah

    "If in your family give birth at older ages, you may well have a chance of living longer than you would otherwise," says the study's lead author, demographer Ken R. Smith, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah. "If you have a female relative who had children after age 45, then there may be some genetic benefit in your family that will enhance your longevity."

    For descendants of the Utah and Quebec pioneers studied, "you may be able to look at the ages when your female gave birth - rather than just their longevity - in estimating how long you may live," says Smith, whose study will be published online May 4 and in the June 10 print issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences.

    The researchers examined high-quality genealogical records from the Utah Population Database at the University of Utah with its records of 1.6 million Utah Mormon pioneers and their descendants. They also used the University of Montreal's Program on Demographic History Research, which has records on 400,000 people who lived in heavily Catholic Quebec between 1608 and 1850.

    Specifically, the study involved the records of 11,604 Utah men who were born between 1800 and 1869 and who had at least one sister who lived at least to age 50; and the records of 6,206 Quebec men who lived between 1670 and 1750, and had at least one sister who lived to 50 or older. The key findings:

    • Women who had "late fertility" - a birth at age 45 or older - were 14 percent to 17 percent less likely to die during any year after age 50 than women who did not deliver a child after age 40. That confirmed earlier studies. But those studies did not determine if the women gave birth later and lived longer because of or because of social and environmental factors such as good nutrition or healthy living.
    • Brothers who had at least three sisters, including at least one sister who gave birth at age 45 or later, were 20 percent to 22 percent less likely to die during any year after age 50 than brothers who had no "late fertile" sisters. That indicates what earlier studies did not, namely, the same genes may influence the lifespan of both sexes and women's ability to give birth at older ages.
    • The brothers' wives didn't have longer lives, suggesting any environmental or social factors that influence lifespan had only a weak influence, and that genes may explain why brothers lived longer when they had a sister who gave birth in her 40s.
    The study didn't address how much longevity is due to genetics, but Smith says scientists believe genes account for up to 25 percent of differences in longevity.

    Fish Prevents Heart Attacks

    Grill That SalmonStudy suggests eating fatty fish weekly protects the heart Holy mackerel. A new Swedish study suggests that a weekly serving of fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, whitefish and char) increases men's protection from heart failure by 12 percent. The men who consumed a moderate amount of fish oil (marine omega-3) also showed increased protection from heart failure.

    Print or bookmark this handy fish chart to learn which fish contain the most omega-3, a heart-healthy fatty acid.

    The Swine Flu and Diabetes

    The Swine Flu and Diabetes

    Experts have been warning of a worldwide outbreak of a horrific influenza ever since 1997, when the first human cases of so-called H5N1 avian influenza were reported in Hong Kong. Read more...

    China's secret tea revealed as fat-busting wonder cuppa by scientists

    A DAILY cup of special tea may combat the obesity epidemic, scientists will say today.
    An extract of white tea prevents new fat cells from forming and helps to burn off mature ones, according to research.

    Nutritionist Marc Winnefeld said: "In the industrialised countries, the rising incidence of obesity-associated disorders including cardiovascular diseases and diabetes constitutes a growing problem.

    "We have shown that white tea may be an ideal natural source of slimming substances." Mr Winnefeld and colleagues at German multinational Beiersdorf AG, which makes personal-care products, studied the biological effects of the extract – the least processed version of the tea plant Camellia Sinensis.

    They grew human fat cells in the laboratory and found that after treating them with the white tea compound, the amount of fat in them was reduced.

    Mr Winnefeld, whose findings are published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, said: "The extract solution induced a decrease in the expression of genes associated with the growth of new fat cells, while also prompting existing adipocytes (fat cells] to break down the fat they contain."

    Obesity is a growing problem in Scotland, which now just trails the US for overweight people among countries in the developed world.

    Currently, 25 per cent of the adult population in Scotland are obese, ahead of 24 per cent in England and Wales, but still a long way behind America's 32.2 per cent.

    White tea is made from the buds and first leaves of the plant used to make green tea and the black tea most commonly drunk in Britain and other Western countries.

    It is less processed than the other teas and contains more of the ingredients thought to be active on human cells which the researchers believe to be responsible for many of the fat-busting effects seen in their study.

    For hundreds of years, the Chinese have kept the extremely beneficial properties of white tea a secret.

    Some scientists have dubbed it the ultimate health drink.

    As well as being an aid to weight loss, it has been shown to inhibit cancer cells and prevent the formation of new ones.

    White tea is also said to be very effective in giving radiant, problem-free skin. The abundant antioxidants help fight off "free radicals" – agents responsible for wrinkles and ageing.

    White tea has also been shown to have anti-bacterial and antiviral properties similar to honey, with specific natural chemicals that have the unique ability to kill bugs.

    And research has shown that people who drank white tea were more likely to have stronger bones compared to those who did not.

    Meanwhile, white tea lowers the "bad" cholesterol level in the body through a class of antioxidants called catechins.

    These help maintain the correct amount of cholesterol required by the body.

    Mr Winnefeld added: "This plant extract is an ideal natural source to modulate the adipocyte life cycle at different stages and to induce anti-obesity effects."