Genes trigger schizophrenia

Recent studies have shown that previously unknown genetic mutations may increase the risk of a person developing schizophrenia. The study was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, the University of Washington, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

For the study, researchers collected blood samples from 150 schizophrenic individuals and 268 people who did not suffer from any psychiatric disorder. They then used new, high-resolution techniques that scan the entire DNA sequence to detect mutations that disrupted the performance of the normal genes.

Fifty-three such mutations were detected, and scientists observed that these mutations were three times as likely in people suffering from schizophrenia than in those who did not.

Source: The New York Times

Dementia linked to belly fat

New studies suggest that people who have large bellies during their 40s are at a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia by the time they reach their 70s.

The study examined data from 6583 people whose belly fat was calculated during a health study in the years 1964 to 1973. Researchers observed that increased abdominal fat led to an increased risk of dementia.

These findings were independent of the total weight of the people. The body mass index (BMI) was not related to the development of dementia, as people with low BMI but high belly fat were also at high risk of developing the disorder.

Scientists suspect that the reason for this is that fat near the inner organs is more metabolically active than other fat and constantly pumps out harmful toxins.

Source: The Washington Post

Safety of AIDS drugs reviewed

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that U.S. health officials are reviewing the safety of AIDS drugs sold by GlaxoSmithKline Plc. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. The drugs in question are Ziagen and Videx, products of the two manufacturers, respectively.

The announcement was made after a study showed that patients taking Ziagen or Viadex were at a greater risk of suffering from heart attacks than patients taking other drugs.

While the drugs are still being evaluated, the FDA has warned health care providers to measure the risks and benefits of each HIV drug that they administer.

Source: Reuters

Hormone therapy provokes cancer

Studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy increases the chances of breast cancer in former patients.

According to the U.S. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, tumors are 14 percent more likely to be reactivated in former breast cancer patients who were receiving hormone replacement therapies (HRT).

Researchers suspect this happens because HRT triggers the growth of tumor microdeposits in former patients.

In spite of these findings, doctors suggest that younger women who need HRT should still pursue the treatment, as the drugs are available with new low-dose formulas.

Source: Reuters