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A new research suggests that the popular dietary supplement carnosine may prove helpful in preventing and treating cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye that is a leading cause of vision loss worldwide.

A researcher pointed out that the only effective treatment for cataracts is surgical replacement of the lens, the clear disc-like structure inside the eye that focuses light on the nerve tissue in the back of the eye.

Cataracts develop when the main structural protein in the lens, alpha-crystallin, forms abnormal clumps. The clumps make the lens cloudy and impair vision.
Earlier studies have suggested that carnosine may help block the formation of these clumps. The researchers exposed tissue cultures of healthy rat lenses to either guanidine — a substance known to form cataracts — or a combination of guanidine and carnosine.
They observed that the guanidine lenses became completely cloudy, while the guanidine/carnosine lenses developed 50 to 60 per cent less cloudiness.
According to them, carnosine also restored most of the clarity to clouded lenses.

Cancer related to maternal age
Baby born to an older mother may have a slightly increased risk for many of the cancers that occur during childhood, according to a new study from the Masonic Cancer Centre, University of Minnesota.

Logan Spector, assistant professor of paediatrics and cancer epidemiology researcher, and Kimberly Johnson, postdoctoral fellow in paediatric epidemiology, led the research team on this study.

“Our finding shows that although the absolute risk is low, advancing maternal age may be a factor and explain why, after other factors are adjusted for, some children get cancer,” said Spector.

Obesity and risk of rapid cartilage loss
A new study has shown that obesity, among other factors, is strongly associated with an increased risk of rapid cartilage loss.

Tibio-femoral cartilage is a flexible connective tissue that covers and protects the bones of the knee. Cartilage damage can occur due to excessive wear and tear, injury, misalignment of the joint or other factors, including osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis).

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down and, in severe cases, can completely wear away, leaving the joint without a cushion. The bones rub together, causing further damage, significant pain and loss of mobility.

The best way to prevent or slow cartilage loss and subsequent disability is to identify risk factors early.

“Osteoarthritis is a slowly progressive disorder, but a minority of patients with hardly any osteoarthritis at first diagnosis exhibit fast disease progression,” said Frank W Roemer, Boston University.

Smoking linked to multiple sclerosis
A new study has revealed that patients with multiple sclerosis who smoke experience a more rapid progression of their disease.

For the study, Brian C Healy, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and colleagues examined 1,465 patients with MS who visited a referral Centre between February 2006 and August 2007.
Participants had an average age of 42 and had MS for an average of 9.4 years. Their progression was assessed by clinical characteristics as well as by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) over an average of 3.29 years.

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