* Can aspirin combat Alzheimer's?
Aspirin and other NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs) may prevent Alzheimer's disease, a meta-analysis has confirmed. Researchers from the University of Toronto analysed nine studies, involving a total of 15,000 people, and found that those who regularly took an NSAID (other than aspirin) reduced their risk of Alzheimer's by 30 per cent, and those who took aspirin, by 13 per cent (BMJ, 2003; 327: 128-31).
* Are swimming pools a cause of asthma?
Childhood asthma may be due to the chlorine in swimming pools. The likeliest suspect is nitrogen trichloride, a byproduct of chlorine and a powerful irritant. Belgian researchers found high levels of lung-specific proteins - a marker of lung permeability - in children who regularly visit swimming pools (Occup Environ Med, 2003; 60: 385-94).
* Bronchitis treatment is ineffective
Bronchodilators with epinephrine (adrenaline) are regularly used for babies with bronchitis. But when doctors in Brisbane gave them either epinephrine or a placebo saline, those given the saline recovered just as quickly as those given the drug. The drug also caused a rapid heart rate (N Engl J Med, 2003; 349: 27-35).
* Prostate cancer drug can lead to a more virulent form
The prostate cancer drug finasteride can retard or even prevent the cancer, concludes a new study. But the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial found that it could also lower libido and increase the risk of a more virulent form of the cancer later (N Engl J Med, 2003; 349: 215-24).
* How to avoid dementia
Scientists have discovered that people over the age of 75 who stay active are far less likely to develop dementia compared with those who spend their time sitting and watching television. These activities included playing board games, reading, doing crossword puzzles, writing and taking part in group discussions (N Engl J Med, 2003; 348: 2508-16).