Health Front: More Hope for Weight Loss, and AIDS
By DR. JERRY DeCAPUA
• Brown fat cells are of great interest to researchers trying to develop new anti-obesity or weight loss drugs. Leaner people have less white fat and more brown fat, just the opposite ratio of people with larger waist sizes, who have less brown fat. When brown fat cells are more active, people burn more calories and lose weight. Pharmaceutical companies have been racing toward discoveries that would triumphantly secure them the patent of a fat busting pill.
A scientist at Hokkaido University in Japan has discovered that consuming chili peppers in a cold room will boost the activity of brown fat, to the dismay of pharmaceutical companies. Takeshi Yoneshiro’s research found that people with no brown fat cells that were exposed to a cold room for two hours a day and consumed capsinoids (found in chili peppers), burned more calories and had a five percent reduction in overall body fat.
“The fact that a certain natural chemical and cold exposure can impact the fat cells makes the study a milestone in weight loss research,” said Dr. Clifford Rosen, a professor at Tufts University Medical School. He noted that the research is unique in providing a way to induce brown fat activity for white fat dominant people.
• Researchers have found that a few rare people have a protein with the ability to prevent HIV from spreading. One percent of people infected with HIV have a second line of defense deep in their immune system. These people, known as “controllers,” are able to maintain long-term control of HIV without a daily regimen of antiviral medication. The defensive immune protein is called A3, which blocks the virus from spreading throughout the body.
Scientists from Northwestern University suggested their findings could help shorten the drug treatment required for others who have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Unlike other cells in the immune system that are unable to recognized and protect themselves from HIV once it mutates, A3 isn’t fooled by the virus, thereby rendering it harmless. Scientists expect to utilize the protein that the controllers naturally develop and eventually shorten the HIV patient’s recovery time.
• Children born to teen mothers may have a slight language delay compared to children born to mothers in their 20s or 30s, but they are not disadvantaged intellectually, a new British study suggests. The researchers examined statistics from 19,000 kids born in the UK in 2000. Of those, 12,000 underwent testing of their spatial, verbal and nonverbal skills when they were five years old. The researchers found a difference in verbal skills between the children born to teen mothers versus older mothers. The study concluded that the children of teen mothers were less likely to gain further in education because of the teen mother’s limited verbal skills. The study published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, also mentions that only 7 percent of the teenage moms breast-fed their infants for the first four months, compared to 41 percent of mothers over age 30.
• National Football League veterans are showing pronounced abnormalities in brain activity, notes a study at Imperial College of London. The functional MRI brain studies of 60 NFL veterans took place thousands of miles away from any football stadium or practice field. Upon testing the retired players, the British medical team revealed disturbingl activity in the frontal lobes of the players. The frontal lobe manages higher-level activity known as “executive function.” Accumulative head blows appear to be the most likely cause of this executive dysfunction. Although an individual who has had a blow to the head may perform well on a neurological testing, he may go on to struggle in everyday life. These recent type of functional MRI brain scans should help physicians better identify and treat football player’s head injuries, rather than putting them back in the game if they can remember their birthdays.