LAB REPORT

Some fats help fight diabetes; air pollution impairs fetal brain growth

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 March, 2015, 6:03am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 March, 2015, 6:03am

Fat turns from diabetes foe to potential treatment

There is a new weapon in the war against type 2 diabetes: fat. Researchers have discovered a new class of potentially therapeutic lipids, called fatty-acid esters of hydroxy fatty acids (Fahfas). These lipids are found at lower levels in people with insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, compared with those who don't have the condition. Administering Fahfas to diabetic mice improved glucose metabolism and insulin secretion, opening a surprising avenue for the development of new medications for the disease. The researchers, from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Beth Israel Medical Deaconess Centre, also checked various foods and detected Fahfas in many common items, such as apples, broccoli, beef, chicken and eggs.

Prenatal exposure to air pollutants impairs brain

Prenatal exposure to common air pollutants called PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) has been linked to cognitive and behavioural impairment in a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers followed 40 children in New York from birth until seven to nine years of age. MRI scans showed reductions in nearly the entire white matter surface of the left half of the brain - loss associated with slower processing of information during intelligence testing and behavioural problems, including ADHD. Postnatal PAH exposure - measured at the age of five - was found to contribute to more disturbances in development of white matter in the brain area associated with concentration, reasoning, judgment and problem-solving.

How exercise pumps up the volume

Men who exercise more have better erectile and sexual function, regardless of race, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. About 300 study participants self-reported their activity levels, as well as their sexual function, including the ability to have erections, orgasms, the quality and frequency of erections and overall sexual function. It was found that men who reported more frequent exercise per week - the equivalent of two hours of strenuous exercise, such as running or swimming, 3½ hours of moderate exercise, or six hours of light exercise - had higher sexual function scores.