Mod­er­ate wine drink­ing cuts the risk of fatty liver by half

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health -

ONE glass of wine a day may not only pro­tect against heart dis­ease, it may also lead to a health­ier liver. In Hep­a­tol­ogy this week, re­searchers have shown that mod­er­ate wine con­sump­tion de­creases the risk of de­vel­op­ing fatty liver dis­ease. A to­tal of 11,754 adults aged 21 and over were in­volved in the study — 7211 non-drinkers and 4543 mod­er­ate drinkers. ‘‘ Mod­er­ate’’ was de­fined as hav­ing up to an av­er­age of one drink per day of ei­ther 120 millil­itres (ml) of wine, 350ml of beer or 30ml of spir­its. Com­pared to non-drinkers, those who drank one glass of wine a day had half the risk of de­vel­op­ing fatty liver dis­ease. But those who drank mod­er­ate amounts of beer or spir­its had more than four times the risk of liver dis­ease as non-drinkers. Hep­a­tol­ogy 2008;doi:10.1002/hep.22292 (Dunn W, et al)

SMOK­ING is just as bad for so­cial sta­tus as for health, ac­cord­ing to new re­search in theNew Eng­landJour­nalofMedicine . Re­searchers stud­ied smok­ing be­hav­iour in a large so­cial net­work of 12,067 peo­ple be­tween 1971 and 2003. They found that the de­ci­sion to quit was of­ten com­mu­nal, with clus­ters of spouses, friends, sib­lings and co-work­ers giv­ing up at around the same time. But those who con­tin­ued to smoke formed their own groups that grad­u­ally shifted from the cen­tre of the so­cial net­work to the pe­riph­ery. The re­verse was also true, with quit­ters mov­ing back to a more cen­tral po­si­tion among their con­tacts. NewEnglJMed 2008;358:2249-2258 (Chris­takis NA, et al)

LEAD ex­po­sure dur­ing child­hood has been linked to de­creased adult brain size in a study pub­lished on­line this week in the Pub­lic Li­brary­ofS­cience—Medicine . Re­searchers re­cruited 157 preg­nant women in Cincin­nati, USA, be­tween 1979 and 1984, when the city had many older, lead-con­tam­i­nated houses. Ba­bies born to th­ese women were given reg­u­lar blood tests from birth to the age of six, and their av­er­age blood lead lev­els were cal­cu­lated. Brain scans were per­formed when the chil­dren reached 19 to 24 years old. Ex­po­sure to lead as a child was as­so­ci­ated with loss of brain vol­ume in adult­hood, es­pe­cially in men. PLoSMed 2008;5:e112 (Ce­cil KM, et al) SCI­EN­TISTS have moved a step closer to cur­ing the com­mon cold, with new re­search in the Pro­ceed­ing­soft­heNa­tion­alA­cade­myof Sci­ences show­ing that a drug used to treat small­pox can also kill one of the many viruses that causes colds. The virus, known as ade­n­ovirus, has been dif­fi­cult to study be­cause it doesn’t in­fect most lab­o­ra­tory an­i­mals in the same way as it in­fects hu­mans. Now sci­en­tists have found that ade­n­oviruses will in­fect Syr­ian ham­sters, and the small­pox drug called hex­ade­cy­loxypropyl-cid­o­fovir can suc­cess­fully at­tack the virus in th­ese an­i­mals. The study is a ma­jor step for­ward in the search for an ef­fec­tive treat­ment for ade­n­oviruses, say the au­thors, which can cause colds, ton­sil­li­tis, ear in­fec­tions, con­junc­tivi­tis, gas­troen­teri­tis and blad­der in­fec­tions. ProcNatlA­cadS­ciUSA 2008;105 (Wold W, et al) ANEW­study in Na­ture this week may change the way em­bry­onic stem cells are used for de­vel­op­ing ther­a­pies. Un­til now, ESC have been grown in the lab­o­ra­tory us­ing a com­plex mix­ture of growth fac­tors and hor­mones to keep them from chang­ing into other cell types. But sci­en­tists have now dis­cov­ered that the cells don’t need this growth fac­tor ‘‘ soup’’ to re­main as stem cells. In fact, they will grow and mul­ti­ply as stem cells as long as their in­ter­nal sig­nals to change into other cell types are blocked. The au­thors achieved this us­ing just one growth fac­tor and two small pro­teins that block in­ter­nal cell sig­nals. The dis­cov­ery will help in the large-scale pro­duc­tion of spe­cialised cells for treat­ing dis­ease, in­clud­ing brain, heart mus­cle and in­sulin-pro­duc­ing cells, say the au­thors. Na­ture 2008;453:519-524 (Ying Q-L, et al) Want to know more?

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