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New ways to treat osteoporosis

British scientists have found fundamental differences between the bone which makes up the skull and the bones in our limbs. Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London, believe the findings could hold the key to tackling bone weakness and fractures.

It is well known that bones in the arms and legs become weak and vulnerable to breaks when they are not maintained by weight-bearing exercise. However, the skull bone, which bears almost no weight, remains particularly resistant to breaking. In the new research published in PLoS ONE, researchers say that their new understanding of the differences between the two types of bones could lead to new ways to treat or prevent osteoporosis. People who develop osteoporosis have fragile bones which are prone to breaking. The condition becomes more common as we age, especially in post-menopausal women when levels of oestrogen fall dramatically. In the over 50s it affects half of all women and a fifth of all men.

The researchers wanted to understand why the skull bones are resistant to bone thinning as they age, even in post-menopausal women.

To investigate this, they looked in detail at rat bone cells from the skull and compared them with cells from limb bone. They found differences between the appearance of the cells and how they behaved in the lab. They also noticed that treating the cells with oestrogen had a far greater effect on the cells from the limb bone.

Added sugar may promote tooth decay

A new study has shown that added sugar in raisin bran cereals increases acid in dental plaque, leading to tooth decay. During the study, a research team from the University of Illinois at Chicago compared four food groups -- raisins, bran flakes, commercially marketed raisin bran cereal, and a mix of bran flakes with raisins lacking any added sugar in children aged 7 to 11.

Sucrose, or table sugar, and sorbitol, a sugar substitute often used in diet foods, were also tested as controls. They found that all test foods except the sorbitol solution promoted acid production in dental plaque over 30 minutes, with the largest production between 10 to 15 minutes.

Eating commercially marketed raisin bran led to significantly more acid in the plaque. Lead researcher Christine Wu said there is a “well-documented” danger zone of dental plaque acidity that puts a tooth's enamel at risk for mineral loss that may lead to cavities.
Achint Utreja, a research scientist and dentist formerly on Wu's team, said plaque acidity did not reach that point after children consumed 10 grams of raisins. Adding unsweetened raisins to bran flakes also did not increase plaque acid compared to bran flakes alone.

Moderate fish consumption cuts heart failure risk

Moderate fish consumption can help preserve heart function in patients who have experienced heart failure, a new study has shown. Researchers from the University of Athens in Greece found that consuming fish one to two times per week can help reduce the risk of left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVSD) in post acute coronary syndrome patients.

However, a higher consumption of fish did not result in further protection from the occurrence of LVSD. Lead researcher D Panagiotakos states, “More research is necessary in this area, including the determination of the type of fish consumed as well as the type of the cooking method (boiling, baking, frying.” Previous research has shown that consumption of a wide variety of fish is best for minimising mercury exposure and increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake. The new study is published in the ‘Journal of Food Science’.

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