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Gymnastics boosts girls’ bone health

Long-term elite rhythmic gymnastics exerts positive effects on volumetric bone density and bone geometry in adolescent girls, according to a new study.

“Previous studies of adolescents have found an association between weight-bearing exercise and increased bone density and bone strength,” said Symeon Tournis, University of Athens in Greece. “Our findings show that training in rhythmic gymnastics significantly improves bone health in adolescent girls. Given that osteoporosis traits start in childhood, it is possible to speculate that if girls maintain their gymnastic training beyond adolescence, even if their training is less intensive, they may have a reduced risk of bone fracture later in life.”

In the study, researchers evaluated the bone health of 49 girls between the ages of 9 and 13 years. Twenty-six of the girls were elite rhythmic gymnasts who had trained for at least two years, and 23 girls had only physical-education related activity.

Researchers measured volumetric bone density, bone mineral content and cortical thickness (the outer shell of the bone) in each girl and found that girls who had undergone intensive rhythmic gymnastic training had increased cortical thickness and bone strength.

Jewellery, kitchen, not  all that modern

While special abilities like symbolic art, abstract thinking, and highly organised societies might make us pretty special, evidence has proved that these traits of modern human behaviour may have existed in earlier hominids too.

In Spanish caves once occupied by Neanderthals, archaeologist Joao Zilhao of the University of Bristol unearthed punctured scallop shells crusted with mineral pigments, which was actually Neanderthal jewellery.

Body ornaments had been found at Neanderthal camps before, but they dated to near the period when Neanderthals shared Europe with modern humans.

However, most of the relics found by Zilhao date to 50,000 years ago, 10,000 years before the first modern humans arrived.

The Neanderthals can finally get clear credit for their artistry, he said. In fact, a 7,90,000-year-old hominid settlement in northern Israel, excavated by archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, appears to have been divided into distinct functional spaces, with a hearthside food preparation area and a spot dedicated to flint tool making.

Researchers had thought that only Homo sapiens had such well-configured living spaces.
Now it seems that far earlier humans kept orderly homes.

Trial for inhalable measles vaccine offers new hope

A dry powder, inhalable vaccine developed for measles prevention and slated for human clinical trials later this year in India, could also help pave the way for the inexpensive treatment of a range of other illnesses, say researchers.

The vaccine, developed by a team led by Robert Sievers, University of Colorado, Boulder, involves mixing ‘supercritical’ carbon dioxide with a weakened form of the measles virus.
The process produces microscopic bubbles and droplets that are dried to make the inhalable powder, which is dispensed into the mouths of patients using a small, cylindrical plastic sack with an opening like the neck of a plastic water bottle. “One of our primary goals of this project is to get rid of needles and syringes, because they frighten some people, they hurt, they can transmit diseases and there are issues with needle disposal,” Sievers said.

With the new technology, the inhaled powder is sent directly into the lungs, a good target since measles attacks through the respiratory tract, Sievers explained.

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