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Air pollution may lead to brain cancer

A team of researchers is set to conduct a study to determine if several potentially toxic compounds that exist in polluted air are capable of entering the brain from the bloodstream and causing brain cancer.

The research by scientists at the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai will be done in laboratory mice and will focus on three – naphthalene, butadiene and isoprene – that often are associated with polluted air.

Cedars-Sinai researchers and others have used high-tech systems to detect genes and proteins involved in the development of brain cancers.

They have studied molecular changes and interactions considered “brain tumor pathways” that lead from defective gene activity to cancer generation in the brain.

The researchers also have identified certain genes that appear to support cancer stem cells. Like normal stem cells, cancer stem cells have the ability to self-renew and generate new cells, but instead of producing healthy cells, they create cancer cells.

The air pollution study is intended to determine whether up to 12 months of ongoing exposure to air pollution causes molecular changes in the brain that are consistent with the development of brain tumor pathways; if toxins associated with air pollution can cross the brain’s natural defense mechanism – the blood-brain barrier – and enter the brains of animals; and whether this exposure activates genes and proteins that support brain cancer stem cells.

In the new study, researchers will examine tissue exposed to pollutants at three months, six months and 12 months to determine if there is a change with longer exposure compared to shorter.

Attention modification might assist kids to eat less

In a new study researchers have reported using a single session of attention modification to decrease overeating in obese children.

Among the multiple factors that can cause obesity is an abnormal neurocognitive or behavioral response to food cues. The brain becomes wired to seek – and expect – greater rewards from food, which leads to unhealthful overeating.

“Attentional bias to food means that food grabs a person's attention. If two people were in a room with potato chips on the table, the person with attentional bias would be paying attention to, maybe looking at, the chips and the person without the bias would not really notice or pay attention to them,” Kerri Boutelle, PhD, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, said.

“We believe that there is a group of people who are inherently sensitive to food cues and, over time, eating in response to paying attention to food makes them pay even more attention. It's based on Pavlovian conditioning,” the researcher added.

Boutelle and colleagues investigated whether attention modification training might be another way to treat problematic eating and obesity in children.

In a novel pilot study, they recruited 24 overweight and obese children between the ages of 8 and 12 and split them into two groups.

One group underwent an attention modification program (AMP) in which they watched pairs of words quickly flash upon a computer screen. 

The AMP trained attention away from food words because the letter always appeared in the spot of the non-food word while in the other group, the condition trained attention was split with the letter appearing half of the time in the food word location and half in the non-food word location, the researcher said.
Weight training programmes help breast cancer patients

A new study has found that breast cancer survivors can reap benefits of weight training programs.

Through that study, researchers at Florida State University and other institutions found that if you put female breast cancer survivors on a weight training program and fed them prunes, they could at least maintain their current levels of muscle mass and bone density.

Co-author of the study, Lynn Panton, and one of her doctoral students, Titch Madzima, are following up on that research, recruiting another group of women to participate in a study that involves personal training twice per week, followed by consumption of a vanilla bean-flavored protein drink. Panton and Madzima are trying to find out if they tweak the approach from the first study if they can eventually reverse the effects of the chemotherapy and help women gain back some lost muscle mass and bone density.

“If we can slow down that accelerated loss or reverse that process, hopefully we’ll improve the quality of life of the breast cancer survivor,” Madzima said.

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