Research briefs

Sugar rush to the heart
The body sends a sugar rush to the heart to protect against damage in an MI, US scientists have discovered. Studies of rats and mice have shown that during an MI, ischaemic tissue releases a molecule called macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) that activates adenosine mono-phosphate kinase (AMPK) - a key enzyme for energy regulation. AMPK promotes glucose uptake in the cardiac tissue, offering protection. But in some people, MIF may not be as effective, and genetic analysis may allow doctors to assess risk in patients with coronary artery disease, say the researchers (Nature 2008 Online).
Cannabis bigger lung cancer risk than tobacco
Smoking a joint is 20 times as carcinogenic as a cigarette, New Zealand research has shown. Findings show that smoking cannabis can cause lung cancer independently of tobacco. For the study, 79 lung cancer patients and 324 controls were asked about a range of risk factors, including cannabis and alcohol intake. This showed that those who smoked the equivalent of two joints a day for five years had a six-fold increased risk of lung cancer, even after adjusting for confounding factors (Eur Resp J 2008; 31: 280-6).

Sex hormones link to prostate cancer ruled out
Androgen levels are not linked to prostate cancer risk, as has long been suspected, claim UK researchers. In a review of 18 studies involving 3,886 men with prostate cancer and 6,438 controls, the researchers failed to find any association between prostate cancer risk and circulating levels of oestrogen and testosterone (J Nat Cancer Inst 2008; 100: 170-83).

Nautical cure for a runny nose
Using a nasal wash made from processed sea water can boost recovery from the symptoms of a cold, suggest research findings from the Czech Republic. For the study, 390 children aged six to 10 with cold or flu were randomly assigned to receive standard medication alone or with the nasal spray. Observation showed that those given the nasal spray had less stuffy noses and less need for additional medications than the control group (Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2008; 134: 67-74).

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