UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

Sept. 5, 2003 at 5:35 PM
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Researchers improve dietary testing

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Purdue University researchers say they have found a faster, less expensive method to test the quality and purity of dietary supplement oils.

The results, on such items as flax seed, borage seed and grape seed oil, often touted as cures for many human maladies, are published in the September issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

"This study brings analytical chemistry, food science, nutritional sciences and consumer interest together," said Lisa Mauer, assistant professor of food science. "Consumers want the salad dressing brand they buy to taste the same every time. The same is true for special types of oils, which are more expensive than a general cooking oil."

Consumers are concerned about purity because of taste, safety, health benefits and cost, she said. While oils that are less pure may be less expensive, they may lose the flavor or health benefits, and some can even be detrimental to health.

Dogs a growing threat to world health

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- An international meeting of dog experts ended Friday in Rio de Janeiro, with a consensus that dogs pose a greater threat of attack than of disease.

The BBC said the three-day congress was jointly organized by the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the World Health Organization's Latin American section, the Pan-American Health Organization.

It was revealed that attacks on people, especially children, are now a greater risk than the transmission of diseases, such as rabies.

In Peru, there are at least 80,000 attacks a year, and in Brazil there are hundreds of thousands of attacks, mostly involving children.

Now said to stand at 600 million, the worldwide dog population is expected to double within 10 years.

The congress came down strongly in favor of education, not for the dogs, but for their owners.

The BBC said delegates believe dog owners must be made responsible for their animals' behavior.

Brain activity may affect immune functions

MADISON, Wis., Sept. 4 (UPI) -- A new study indicates good health may involve more than washing hands or keeping a positive attitude -- it might also involve your brain activity.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison monitored activity levels in the human brain's prefrontal cortex in demonstrating for the first time that people who have more activity in the left side of their brain also have a stronger immune response against disease.

The finding, soon to be published in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pinpoints one of the mechanisms underlying the link between mental and physical well being.

University neuroscientist and lead researcher of the study Dr. Richard Davidson told Science Daily magazine: "Emotions play an important role in modulating bodily systems that influence our health. We turned to the brain to understand the mechanisms by which the mind influences the body."

While earlier studies linked emotional and physical health, as well as brain activity and affective style, Davidson says none established a direct link between brain activity and immune function. The latest study by the UW-Madison group demonstrates that connection.

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