Research Briefs 191007

Statins 'keep lungs healthy'
Statins can slow down lung function decline in the elderly, according to US research. For the study, the researchers analysed 803 patients who had their lung function measured at least twice between January 1995 and June 2005. The patients completed questionnaires on pulmonary disorders, smoking and medication use. Those taking statins experienced a slower annual decline in lung function. For forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), statin users lost on average 10.9ml whereas non-stain users lost an average of 23.9ml each year (Am J Resp Crit Care Med Online 2007).

Familial MS is more severe
MS that runs in the family is more severe than non-familial MS, according to findings presented last week at the 23rd Congress of the European Committee for the Treatment and Research in MS in Prague. The researchers analysed brain MRI scans taken from 759 MS patients. Of these patients, 198 had a positive family history of MS. The researchers measured the number and volume of lesions, grey matter and the cortex. Compared with patients with no family history of MS, familial MS patients had more destructed lesions and a lower volume of whole brain white and grey matter.

Ethnic minority bowel cancer risk highlighted
Ethnic minorities have a greater risk of developing colorectal cancer than Caucasians, according to research presented earlier this week at the 72nd annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Philadelphia. Analysis of the results of 587 colonoscopies showed that 14 per cent African-American patients had advanced polyps, compared with 5.4 per cent of Caucasian patients. The findings emphasise the importance of screening for colorectal cancer among ethnic minorities, say the researchers.

Drink to remember
A couple of glasses of wine a day can boost our ability to remember, according to research from New Zealand. The researchers found that moderate amounts of alcohol could stimulate the brain. The findings dispel the belief about drinking excessive amounts of alcohol to forget. Researchers said that heavy drinking reinforces negative memories (Journal of Neuroscience Online 2007).

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