VITAMIN A FOR LEUKAEMIA
Better - and safer - than chemo
Wrapping vitamin A inside bubbles of fat can reverse a rare leukaemia in up to a third of patients, claim researchers at University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. As it uses a form of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), this novel therapy is licensed as Lipo-ATRA (Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2004).
Chemicals can damage a fetus
Prolonged exposure to the chemical MIT (methylisothiazolinone), used as a preservative in many popular shampoos and hand lotions, can affect nerve-cell development in rats - and may have the same damaging effects in humans.
Nevertheless, UK and other European safety groups say MIT has passed all the tests, with no evidence that it can cross the placenta into a developing fetus' circulation (Presentation at the American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, 5 December 2004).
HEART ATTACK AND STROKE
Don't drive or take the underground
You are three times more likely to have a heart attack within an hour of travelling in your car or by public transport, according to findings from heart-attack survivors. Most of the patients had been driving a car just before their attack. Travelling by public transport also had a causal effect, though it was not as significant as driving a car (N Engl J Med, 2004; 351: 1721-30).
Low-cal could lower the risk
Two studies have highlighted the significant role of diet in reducing the risk of Parkinson's disease.
In the first, it was found that the disease accelerates the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells, but these cells can be protected by GDNF, a growth factor that is stimulated by a low-calorie diet.
The second study found that good levels of vitamin E, sourced naturally from foods rather than from supplements, can slow or stop the spread of prostate and lung cancers (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 and 21 December 2004, respectively).