Research briefs

Skin problems add to headache
Migraine sufferers are also more likely to have sensitive skin, say US researchers. A survey of over 16,000 headache patients showed that 68 per cent of those with chronic migraine and 63 per cent of those with episodic migraines had allodynia. This causes pain when people rub their head, comb their hair or wear necklaces and earrings. In contrast, just 37 per cent of those with tension headache reported allodynia (Neurology 2008; 70: 1525-33).

CKD patients at risk of macular degeneration
Moderate chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with a three-fold increased risk of age-related macular degeneration, according to Australian research. Among 1,183 people older than 54, the five-year incidence of AMD was 17.5 per cent in those with moderate CKD, compared with 3.9 per cent in those with no or mild CKD (J Am Soc Nephrol 2008; 19: 806-11).

Prenatal paracetamol link to wheeze
Using paracetamol as pain relief in pregnancy could cause wheezing and asthma in children, research suggests. The study of over 60,000 pregnant women in Denmark and their offspring showed that, at 18 months, children exposed to paracetamol prenatally had a 45 per cent increase of wheezing and a 17 per cent increased risk of asthma or bronchitis (Int J Epidemiol Online).

Vitamin D clue for breast cancer
The body's receptor for vitamin D has been linked to breast cancer risk. In a study of 1,408 breast cancer patients and 2,612 healthy controls, German scientists found that women with a particular genetic variation of the vitamin D receptor - called TaqI - were at a significantly higher risk of oestrogen-receptor positive breast cancer (Br Canc Res 2008).

Snake robot for heart ops
Inventors of a snake-like robot that can crawl into the heart, say it could revolutionise cardiac surgery. The 'Cardioarm' probe, which includes a small camera, is controlled by the surgeon using a joystick. It has already been used to correct AF in animal models of the disease.

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