July 14, 2014

Health Roundup: Cinnamon for Parkinson, contact lenses, exercise and new test for Alzheimers, cooling babies

Cinnamon could fight Parkinson's: Spice found to be source of chemical that can help protect the brain

Cinnamon could be a secret weapon in the battle against Parkinson’s disease. Scientists have found that the spice is the source of a chemical that can protect the brain.  Our liver converts cinnamon into sodium benzoate, an approved drug used in the treatment for neural disorders.

In a study of mice at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, a team of researchers found that the chemical then enters the brain, stops the loss of proteins that help protect cells, protects neurons and improves motor functions.

Lead researcher Professor Kalipada Pahan told the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology: ‘Cinnamon has been used widely as a spice throughout the world for centuries. 'This could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in Parkinson’s patients.’Professor Pahan said tests had shown that Ceylon cinnamon is better at halting Parkinson's as it is more pure.  He said the next step is testing cinnamon on patients with the disease.

Check your cynicism. Stress, depression and 'hostility' put older people at greater risk of suffering a stroke, research has revealed

Hostility alone more than doubled the likelihood of having a full-blown or 'mini' stroke, also known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), a study claims.
Chronic stress increased stroke and TIA risk by 59 per cent, and depressive symptoms by 86 per cent….The researchers defined hostility as a 'negative way of viewing the world' and measured it by assessing participants’ cynicism.

Clean your contact lenses or else.  Student goes blind after keeping her contact lenses in for six months and microscopic bug EATS her eyeballs

A student in Taiwan who kept a pair of disposable contact lenses in her eyes for six months has been left blinded after a microscopic bug devoured her eyeballs. The tiny single-cell amoeba ate away at undergraduate Lian Kao's sight because she didn't take out and clean the contacts once during that time.

As well as being regularly cleaned, contact lenses should also be removed when swimming and washing.  The general advice is to avoid wearing contacts for more than eight hours a day. Yet apparently 23-year-old Kao had even kept her contact lenses in at all times, even at the swimming pool. Medics were horrified when they removed the contact lenses to find that the surface of the girl's eyes had literally been eaten by the amoeba that had been able to breed in the perfect conditions that existed between the contact lens and the eye.

Coming soon. Eye tests 'could spot' early Alzheimer's disease

Simple regular eye tests could be used to identify Alzheimer's disease at a very early stage, new research suggests.
Early trials of two different techniques show that a key biomarker for the disease can be identified in the retina and lens of the eye.

Both methods were able to distinguish between healthy volunteers and those likely to be suffering from Alzheimer's patients with a high level of accuracy.
Experts said the findings could be
a “game changer” in treatment of the condition.  So far attempts to find drugs to halt progression of Alzheimer’s disease have failed because patients receiving treatment already suffered too much damage to the brain.

Cut Alzheimer's risk by walking: It only takes 20 minutes, 3 times a week, say Cambridge scientists

Scientists say inactivity is most important lifestyle factor for Alzheimer's.  Believed exercise keeps blood flowing to brain reducing build-up of plaque
Just 20 minutes of physical activity three times a week could cut risk….researchers …. suspect that it keeps the heart and blood vessels strong, which maintains a steady flow of blood to the brain. This may prevent the build-up of plaques, protein deposits in the brain which are thought to trigger Alzheimer’s

Cooling babies deprived of oxygen at birth improves their chances of growing up without disabilities such as cerebral palsy, research suggests.

The New England Journal of Medicine study showed newborns given the treatment were more likely to have higher IQs at school age.  Experts say the study confirms the therapy has long-lasting effects…..Around one in 500 newborns in the UK suffer from asphyxia - a lack of oxygen around the time of birth.  But a 2009 study of more than 300 newborns showed cooling treatment - known as therapeutic hypothermia - could help reduce brain damage at 18 months.  Babies were placed on a special mat and cooled at 33C for three days to help reduce brain injury    Researchers think the therapy works by slowing the production of harmful substances in the brain and the rate of brain cell death. But how long these improvements may last has been unclear.

Posted by Jill Fallon at July 14, 2014 1:30 PM | Permalink