Eliminating dengue is close
AUSTRALIAN researchers are optimistic they have developed a way of cutting dengue fever infections, ABC AM reports. Specially bred mosquitoes, incapable of growing the virus that causes the fever, have been released in Cairns and have passed that crucial characteristic on to the wild mosquito population. The Eliminate Dengue Project has introduced bacteria into the mozzies that makes them unable to grow the dengue virus, or transmit it.

Plain packaging go-ahead
PLAIN cigarette packaging completely bereft of company branding will be introduced in Australia after two bills were passed by federal parliament, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. All tobacco products will have to be sold in unappealing olive-brown packets from 1 July next year. The overall aim is to reduce smoking rates to less than 10%.

Treating obesity like anorexia
AUSTRALIAN scientists believe giving obese people the same psychological counselling as those with anorexia nervosa could help their weight battle, news.com.au reports. University of NSW researchers reviewed 38 studies on obesity and high-level brain functions and found obese people, like those with anorexia, were prone to executive function disorders. These disorders can make anorexics keep a tight rein on things while it is the opposite for obese people, who are often too flexible and find it difficult to solve problems and achieve goals.

Bubble baby cure
CHILDREN born with a rare genetic condition that leaves them without a working immune system can now be cured by a pioneering gene therapy, The Australian reports. UK doctors have induced long-term immune function with a technique that uses disabled viruses to get working copies of the defective gene into the body. The results, published in Science Translational Medicine, showed that of the 16 children who have had the procedure, 14 are living normal lives and the oldest is about to start secondary school.

Cholesterol reduction
A DIET combining soy protein, nuts and vegetable oils has been found to lower bad cholesterol levels far more effectively than avoiding saturated fats, the West Australian reports. The research, published in JAMA, showed patients who were given advice to switch to foods known to lower harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol had a 13% reduction in LDL levels. Those who switched to a low-fat diet had a drop in LDL cholesterol of 3%.

Health over hair
THE US surgeon general has a new message for American women — it’s OK to have a bad hair day, the New York Times reports. When the current surgeon general, Dr Regina Benjamin, visited a trade show in Atlanta she talked about what has become something of a pet cause — too many women forgoing exercise because they’re worried it will ruin their hair. “Often times you get women saying, ‘I can’t exercise today because I don’t want to sweat my hair back or get my hair wet,’ ” she said in an interview.

Posted 29 August 2011

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