Bread crusts rich in antioxidants

The best thing since sliced bread may be bread crust: Researchers in Germany have discovered that the crust is a rich source of antioxidants and may provide a much stronger health benefit than the rest of the bread. This is good news for those who like to complement their holiday meals with bread stuffing, which is rich in crust, but bad news for those who prefer to remove crusts from their bread, as they may be sacrificing healthful antioxidants.

New hope for Alzheimer’s vaccine

Researchers have discovered a way to refine an experimental Alzheimer’s vaccine, a finding that could pave the way for new treatment and prevention of the debilitating disease that affects people’s ability to think and recall information. Alzheimer’s occurs when toxic biochemical compounds known as amyloid-beta peptides accumulate in the brain, forming plaque deposits and injuring nerve cells, which eventually causes dementia. In 2000, researchers at the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases published a paper showing how the amyloid-beta peptide vaccine blocked the production of the plaques and reversed learning impairment. The vaccine stimulates the body’s immune system into forming antibodies against the plaques in the brain, but it also caused inflamation. This new research claims to have found a way to better isolate the active epitope detected by antibodies. After testing a more refined, targeted amyloid-beta vaccine on mice, the scientists found that the antibodies generated by the vaccine cleared away the plaques — improving cognitive function in the mice and leaving no evidence of brain inflammation.

The Brain Gets the Big Picture

When you look at a picture, your brain has to put together lines, patterns and shapes to make a meaningful scene. New research by neuroscientists at the University of California, Davis and the University of Minnesota shows that higher regions of the brain can quickly recognize patterns and shapes and tell lower areas of the brain to stop processing the information. The finding confirms predictions from computer models and helps explain how the human brain makes sense of what the eyes see.

Math rivals ultrasound for predicting birth weight

Many low birth-weight babies face serious health problems, but there are also risks of injury during delivery for large infants — and their moms. A new study confirms that a mathematical equation using standard health data obtained from every woman during pregnancy can predict birth weight within eight percent of actual birth weight, which is just as accurate as ultrasound.

Progesterone Causes Less Bleeding than Most Hormone Replacement Therapies

Excessive bleeding, a troublesome side-effect that causes many women to stop taking hormone replacement therapies (HRT), is less likely with progesterone than with more commonly used synthetic versions. Results from a national clinical trial published in the November issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, show that a combination of estrogen and micronized progesterone (MP) causes fewer days and less intense bleeding than the most commonly used combination. Previous studies have shown that unacceptable bleeding is the reason that most women discontinue HRT during the first year of therapy.

Nearness of markets boosts people’s intake of nutritious fruits and vegetables

Black Americans’ fruit and vegetable intake increased by 32 percent for each additional supermarket in the neighborhoods where they lived, according to a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study. White Americans’ fruit and vegetable consumption increased by 11 percent with the presence of one or more supermarket in their neighborhoods, the study showed. “We don’t know why we saw a larger influence of supermarkets on the diets of black Americans compared to white Americans,” said Dr. Kimberly Morland of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. “Based on our previous research showing a lack of private transportation in predominately black neighborhoods, we suspect that white Americans may have a larger geographic area in which to select places to patronize.

Feds approve nicotine lozenges

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a nicotine throat lozenge meant to help smokers kick the habit. The sweets will be sold in stores alongside similar gums and patches. Maker GlaxoSmithKilne says the over-the-counter lozenges will come in two strengths to provide smokers with a source of nicotine that helps them avoid cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms while they try to quit.

Fat, not mild aerobics, helps osteoporosis

While day-to-day physical activities such as walking, housework and shopping may be good for your heart, they don’t do much for your bones, according to a Johns Hopkins study. The new report, published in the November issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine, found that neither light-intensity activities nor aerobic fitness level contributed to bone health, contrasting previous studies suggesting that aerobics could play a role. Having a few extra pounds, however, was a help. Among a group of older adults studied, those with greater muscle strength and higher body fat, especially in the abdomen, had higher bone mineral densities.

20 years laters, no significant cancer increase in Three Mile Island residents

In a 20-year follow-up study of mortality data on residents living within a five-mile radius of Three Mile Island (TMI), researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) found no significant increase overall in deaths from cancer. “This survey of data, which covers the normal latency period for most cancers, confirms our earlier analysis that radioactivity released during the nuclear accident at TMI does not appear to have caused an overall increase in cancer deaths among residents of that area over the follow-up period, l979 to l998,” said Evelyn Talbott, Dr.P.H., professor of epidemiology at GSPH and principal investigator on the study.