What's the buzz

What's the buzz

Obesity ups Alzheimer’s risk

Here’s some discouraging news for obese people: a new report has found that fat people are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s.

Paul Thompson, professor of neurology, UCLA, Cyrus A Raji, a student, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues compared the brains of people who were obese, overweight, and of normal weight, to see if they had differences in brain structure; that is, did their brains look equally healthy.

They found that obese people had eight per cent less brain tissue than people with normal weight, while overweight people had four per cent less tissue.

“That’s a big loss of tissue and it depletes your cognitive reserves, putting you at much greater risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that attack the brain,” said Thompson.
“But you can greatly reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s, if you can eat healthily and keep your weight under control,” he added.

To define the weight categories, they used the Body Mass Index, the most widely used measurement for obesity.

Saliva may help detect oral cancer

At least 50 microRNAs present in human saliva may prove helpful in detecting oral cancer, according to a study conducted in America.

“It is a Holy Grail of cancer detection to be able to measure the presence of a cancer without a biopsy, so it is very appealing to think that we could detect a cancer-specific marker in a patient’s saliva,” said Dr Jennifer Grandis, professor of Otolaryngology and Pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Cancer Institute.
MicroRNAs are molecules produced in cells that have the ability to simultaneously control activity and assess the behaviour of multiple genes. Scientists believe that they may hold the key to early detection of cancer.

Retina cells from skin stem cells

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have successfully grown multiple types of retina cells from two types of stem cells, giving new hope that damaged retinas may soon come to be repaired by cells grown from the patient’s own skin.

The researchers have said that their discovery may soon lead to laboratory models for studying genetically linked eye conditions, screening new drugs to treat those conditions and understanding the development of the human eye.

“This is an important step forward for us, as it not only confirms that multiple retinal cells can be derived from human iPS cells, but also shows how similar the process is to normal human retinal development,” says David Gamm.

Fat in liver and heart diseases

Measuring liver fat may be a better way to determine a person’s risk for developing diabetes and heart disease than measuring belly fat, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine.

Having too much liver fat is known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
The researchers say that when fat collects in the liver, people experience serious metabolic problems such as insulin resistance, which affects the body’s ability to metabolise sugar. They also have increases in production of fat particles in the liver that are secreted into the bloodstream and increase the level of triglycerides.

For years, scientists have noted that where individuals carried body fat influences their metabolic and cardiovascular risk.

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