Health bites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2012, 12:00am

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Having babes at any old age

It seems having children later in life has its positives - at least for men. Northwestern University researchers have found that fathering children at an older age could help promote longevity of the offspring. This is because, unlike most cells, the telomeres in sperm lengthen, rather than shorten, with age. Telomeres are molecular caps at the ends of chromosomes (like plastic tips on shoelaces) thought to protect against ageing and disease. Elderly persons with shorter telomeres for their age are known to have reduced survival. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used information from multigenerational Filipinos. The authors measured telomere length of DNA from the blood of 1,779 young adults and their mothers, and determined the ages of the children's fathers and grandfathers. It was found that an individual's telomere length increased not only with their father's age at their birth, but also further increased with their paternal grandfather's age at their father's birth.

Spot patch for cancer treatment

Curing skin cancer without surgery or major radiation therapy? Yes, it can be done. Researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi have developed a customised treatment called phosphorus-32 (P-32), a radiation spot-treatment skin patch that can safely and easily kill facial tumours with a few outpatient appointments. The patch was tested on 10 patients aged between 32 and 74 with basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, which affects the skin's surface layer. Biopsies were taken at three months and repeated within the three years that followed treatment, and eight out of 10 patients were found to be entirely cured and cancer free. Further research will be needed before the patch can be provided for general clinical use, say the authors.

Light on their feet

When it comes to basketball, what counts is speed, agility and how high you can jump. Extra weight is a hindrance. So Adidas has developed what it claims is the world's lightest basketball shoe, weighing just 269 grams - equivalent to about two iPhone 4s. Launched in Hong Kong last week, the shoe is aptly named Adizero Crazy Light 2 and costs HK$1,199. 'In the league, every game matters and you don't want anything weighing you down on the court,' says Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday. 'Putting on the Adizero Crazy Light 2 gives me that speed and confidence I need when it counts.'