Deadly effects of pollution on lungs
Even short-term exposure to heavy smog for as little as 24 hours is clearly linked to premature deaths, says the US National Academy of Sciences in a report based on a review of health studies. The risk is probably higher for long-term chronic exposure, but further studies are needed, concludes the 13-member panel. However, there is 'strong evidence that short-term exposure ... can exacerbate lung conditions, causing illness and hospitalisation and can potentially lead to death', AP reports.
Parkinson's linked to pesticides
People with Parkinson's are more than twice as likely to have been exposed to pesticides as those without the disease, say Duke University researchers, based on a study of more than 300 sufferers and more than 200 unaffected relatives. Direct exposure to both insecticides and herbicides - particularly organochlorines, organophosphorus compounds, chlorophenoxy compounds and botanicals - significantly increases the risk of developing Parkinson's, Reuters reports. The strongest links were found in families with no history of the disease.
Flu origins traced to Asia
Outbreaks of the most common strains of influenza around the world originate from viruses in Asia, say Cambridge University researchers - a finding that may help point to more effective vaccines. Seasonal flu travels from Asia to Europe and North America and then on to South America, affecting as much as 15 per cent of the world's population each year and killing up to 500,000 people, AFP reports. Vaccines are estimated to effectively protect about 300 million people a year.
Saffron the spice of PMS relief
Reputedly the world's most expensive spice, saffron (right) may help relieve premenstrual syndrome (PMS), say Tehran University researchers, based on a study of 50 women, aged 20 to 45. Three-quarters of those given saffron supplements reported at least a 50 per cent reduction in symptoms such as cramps, bloating, irritability and fatigue, compared with 8 per cent of those given a placebo. And three out of five said it significantly reduced their depression. Saffron is traditionally given to ease stomach pain and digestive problems. The researchers say the spice may influence the brain chemical serotonin, which is believed to be associated with PMS.
Testosterone a winner for men ...
Stockbrokers with high levels of testosterone appear to make more money, say Cambridge University researchers, who tracked 17 male traders at a mid-sized London firm over eight days. On days when their morning testosterone was higher, the traders made a 'significantly greater' profit, say John Coates and Joe Herbert. Testosterone is associated with winning and risk-taking, reports WebMD. The researchers also tracked levels of cortisol, a so-called 'fight or flight' hormone related to stress response, and found that they didn't vary significantly if the traders suffered big losses - only when they were unsure about whether they would make or lose money.
... and libido booster for women
Spraying testosterone on women's stomachs may boost their libido. However, a placebo spray could work just as well, say Australian researchers, based on a study of more than 260 sexually unsatisfied women aged 35 to 46 with low testosterone levels. Testosterone plays an important role in women's sexual health, with levels peaking during their 20s and then declining, WebMD reports. Testosterone-replacement therapy appears to help post-menopausal women's sexual satisfaction, but the Monash University researchers say placebos seem to work just as well for pre-menopausal women, although they recommend further studies.