Health bites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2012, 12:00am


The truth sucks

They're meant to help keep your home clean, but some vacuum cleaners actually contribute to indoor air pollution, say researchers from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. They tested 21 vacuum cleaners sold in Australia and made by 11 manufacturers. The machines were aged six months to 22 years old, and cost from less than A$75 (HK$600) to A$800. All were found to release some fine dust particles and bacteria into the air that could spread infections and trigger allergies, though newer and more expensive cleaners were generally less polluting, the researchers say. Surprisingly, vacuum cleaners with so-called High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters in some cases released only slightly lower levels of dust and bacteria. The study appears in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Natural born killer

A natural compound in the body has shown potential in the fight against cancer. A research team led by Concordia University in Montreal has found that lithocholic acid (LCA), produced in the liver during digestion, is very selective in killing several types of cancer cells, such as those found in some brain tumours and breast cancer, while leaving normal cells unscathed. LCA could also prevent the entire tumour from growing, and prevent tumours from releasing substances that cause neighbouring cancer cells to grow and proliferate, says senior author Professor Vladimir Titorenko. The research team will next test LCA?s effect on different cancers in mice, which they hope will lead to human clinical trials. The study was published in the journal Oncotarget.

Fit body, fit mind

Aerobic exercise can reverse cognitive deficits in patients with psychosis, new research by University of Hong Kong's Li Ka-shing faculty of medicine has found. The 12-week study involved 35 patients, who either followed an exercise programme (three 40-50 minute aerobic sessions weekly) in addition to their current treatment, or continued with their current treatment. Their learning ability and long-term memory were assessed before and after the 12 weeks. Preliminary results show that patients who exercised had a 26 per cent increase in mean learning test score and 27 per cent increase in memory test score, compared with only 6 per cent and 8 per cent in the other group. Based on this finding, the medical faculty has worked with the Hong Kong Early Psychosis Intervention Society to design exercises and will launch a FitMind campaign for patients and their support networks.