Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Could  drinking red wine help keep old people  steady on their feet?

Mouse study only  -- using gigantic doses

Red wine isn’t usually associated with being steady on your feet.  But a ‘miracle ingredient’ in it could have that effect on pensioners, scientists claim.  They say that resveratrol, which is already credited with a host of health benefits from cutting cholesterol to warding off cancer, boosts balance and improves mobility.

In tests, old mice that were given the plant chemical for a few weeks became just as sprightly as young animals.

If resveratrol has similar effects on the human body, it could help prevent the painful falls and fractures from which many pensioners struggle to recover.

Falls are one of the leading causes of death in the over-75s, and half of elderly women die within two years of a fall.

The US researchers said: ‘Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our ageing population.

‘That would therefore increase an ageing person’s quality of life and decrease their risk of hospitalisation due to slips and falls.’ The researchers, from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, fed resveratrol to young and old mice for eight weeks and regularly tested their ability to walk along a rodent-sized beam.

Initially, the older mice struggled but, over time, they became just as deft on their paws as the younger animals.

An American Chemical Society conference heard that it is not entirely clear how resveratrol, which is found in the grape skins that give red wine its colour, improves balance.

But rather than it strengthening bones or muscles, studies on cells in a dish suggest it helps ailing brain cells survive.

But don’t reach for the wine bottle just yet – you would fall over long before you drank the required amount.

Despite its potential in lab tests, resveratrol is so poorly absorbed by the human body that someone would have to drink several hundred glasses of wine a day to get the benefits enjoyed by the mice.

The researchers are now looking for compounds that work just as well but at much lower quantities.

They say that while there are medicines available to help improve balance and co-ordination in people with diseases such as Parkinson's, there is nothing for otherwise healthy pensioners who are not as steady on their feet as they used to be.


Anorexia is genetically transmitted

As it is clearly a mental illness in the OCD category, this is what you would expect

Claire Vickery was not surprised when scientists announced that eating disorders have a genetic link, because she and her two daughters suffered from the illness.

Eating disorders specialist Professor Howard Steiger, of McGill University in Montreal, told a conference in Adelaide last week that new discoveries in epigenetics show mothers pass a genetic predisposition to eating disorders to their children.

"The science of epigenetics is relatively new," he said at the National Eating Disorders Collaboration National Workshop. "Epigenetics helps explain how adverse development, stress, malnutrition and other influences can affect development of mental-health problems - including eating disorders."

Ms Vickery, 56, said she had bulimia from the ages of 16 to 29. "I'm sure I'm carrying the gene."

However, the president of the Australian and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders, Dr Anthea Fursland, said that genes alone would not result in a child developing an eating disorder. "Genetic influences do play a part but they will not cause an eating disorder on their own," she said. "Eating disorders arise as result of a combination of factors but the common factor in every case is dieting."

Ms Vickery's two daughters, Anna and Laura, both had eating disorders when they were younger. They have all recovered but Ms Vickery's experience led her to set up the Butterfly Foundation, which encourages prevention, treatment and support of those affected by eating disorders.

Professor Steiger said epigenetics would play a large role in understanding eating disorders. "If eating disorders are about anything, they're about the ways in which environments switch on hereditary vulnerabilities," he said.

"It will give us a better understanding how it is that some people develop an eating disorder. It's not due to moral weakness or character flaws, but real susceptibilities, for which we can find real physical evidence."

By identifying the genes, he hopes to develop a test and even medication.

One of Ms Vickery's daughters, Anna Spraggett, who is 33 and has three children, said she was excited about the discovery. "It's a positive step forward to finding a cure and treatment," she said.

While she thinks that environmental factors play a part, Ms Vickery said if parents were aware their children were susceptible, they could be mindful of stressful triggers.

"This is not about guilt for mothers," she said. "But if there was a take-home message, it's to choose your words with children … no fat talk in the household - or ever, in fact."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Genetics explains some of human behavior but is by no means an excuse for failure, excuse for bad behaviour and so forth. Tall people almost never can be gymnasts. Should they complain and cry and moan because that's a sport they cannot excel in? Should a 6 foot, 200 lb man complain he cannot work as a jockey? Some so-called mental illnesses (if they are physically caused or genetically determined, they are not mental illnesses) may increase the chances a teenage girl or boy will be hyper-sensitive to weight, but not mentioning weight, refusing to let a sibling be a gymnast or a wrestler because little "Suzy" will feel bad about her weight only reinforces "Suzy's" belief she is a failure. We're not helping with this, we are reinforcing the belief the child is defective. Teach the child to deal with the "genetically" caused feelings just as tall people, short people and everyone else on the ends of the bell curve have to do. It's called life.