Research briefs 250108

Coffee link to miscarriage
Pregnant women should avoid drinking caffeinated drinks. US researchers have found that even moderate consumption could raise the risk of miscarriage. Researchers studied 1,063 pregnant women. Those who consumed 200mg of caffeine a day had a 25 per cent higher risk of miscarriage than women who did not consume caffeine at all (Am J Obstet Gyn Online 2008).

Leukaemia gene breakthrough
The tumour stem cell that is the root cause of leukaemia has been identified by UK researchers. The finding could lead to more specific and less intensive treatments for all children with the cancer. Researchers studied four-year-old twin girls: both carried the tumour cell, but only one had leukaemia. It appears that a second genetic mutation is required in early childhood for the cells to cause leukaemia. (Science Online 2008).

Scientists blame Columbus for syphilis
Columbus and his troops may have introduced syphilis into Europe, claim US scientists. Their findings come from genetic analysis of the evolutionary relatedness of 26 strains of syphilis. This showed that the STI syphilis is closely related to strains collected in South America, strengthening the argument that Columbus and his men brought the disease back from voyages in the New World (PLoS Negl Trop Dis Online 2008).

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