what's the buzz

Cat allergies may soon be history

Scientists have identified how allergic reactions to cats are triggered, and as a result have raised hopes of developing a preventive medicine.

Dr Clare Bryant of the University of Cambridge, led researchers studied proteins that was found in cat skin particles, also known as cat dander - the most common cause of cat allergy.

The team found that a specific pathway in the body was activated by the cat allergen, once it came in the presence of a common bacterial toxin.

This phenomenon triggered a large immune response in allergy sufferers, causing symptoms like coughing, wheezing, sneezing and a runny nose.

Dr Bryant told BBC News that by understanding the underlying the mechanism, drugs that have been designed and are in clinical trials for other conditions could be used in a different way to treat cat allergy and to prevent cat allergy.

An allergic reaction takes place when the body’s immune system overreacts to a perceived danger and instead of its response to a harmful virus or bacteria, it misidentifies allergens, like cat dander, and mounts an immune response.

Weight jibes raise obesity risk

Weight discrimination may drive people to become fatter instead of motivating them to slim down, research has shown.

Angelina Sutin and Antonio Terracciano from the Florida State University College of Medicine compared the height and weight of over 6000 participants, measured in 2006 and 2010.

They found that participants who experienced weight discrimination earlier were 2.5 times more likely to become obese by the follow-up assessment in 2010. Obese participants who perceived weight discrimination in 2006 were more likely to remain obese at the later time than those who had not experienced such discrimination.
Discrimination based on other factors, such as sex or race, did not appear to have the same correlation with weight. The effect of 'weightism' also appeared independent of demographic factors like age, gender, ethnicity or education. The researchers conclude that weight discrimination has further implications for obesity than just poorer mental health outcomes.

Sutin adds, "In addition to the well-known emotional and economic costs, our results suggest that weight discrimination also increases risk of obesity. This could lead to a vicious cycle where individuals who are overweight and obese are more vulnerable to weight discrimination, and this discrimination may contribute to subsequent obesity and difficulties with weight management.”

Girls who walk to school have better cognitive performance

Adolescent girls who walk to school show better cognitive performance than those who travel by bus or car, a new study suggests.

Moreover, cognitive performance is also better in girls who take more than 15 minutes than in those who live closer and have a shorter walk to school.

The results come from findings of the nationwide AVENA (Food and Assessment of the NutritionalStatus of Spanish Adolescents) study, in which the University of Granada has participated together with the Autonomous University of Madrid, University of Zaragoza and the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid.

The researchers affirm that, during adolescence, “the plasticity of the brain is greater than at any other time of life, which makes it the opportune period to stimulate cognitive function”.

However, paradoxically, adolescence is the time of life that sees the greatest decline in physical activity, and this is greater in girls.

Therefore, the authors of the study think that “inactive adolescents could be missing out on a very important stimulus to improve their learning and cognitive performance”.

“Commuting to school on foot is a healthy daily habit, which contributes to keeping the adolescent active during the rest of the day and encourages them to participate in physical and sports activities,” said Palma Chillon, researcher in the Department of Physical and Sports Education of the University of Granada.

Comments (+)