Online and in the news: Parkinson's disease

Muhammad Ali

INSIDE LOOK: Tens of millions are invested into Parkinson’s disease research every year but we still don’t know where it starts. 

But according to the Journal of Experimental Medicine, a laboratory model of Parkinson’s — which the late Muhammad Ali (right) battled for many years — is giving scientists an inside look at what happens in the brain years before motor symptoms appear. 

Specifically, it demonstrates how abnormal alpha-synuclein proteins gradually spread from an area of the brain implicated in the early stages of the disease to other regions of the brain ultimately damaged by the disease.

Most cases are diagnosed after age 60 and by the time symptoms appear, more than half of the brain cells that produce dopamine, a chemical messenger needed for voluntary movement, have died. 

In recent years, scientists have found links to the early stages of Parkinson’s in other areas of the body, namely the gut and the nose.

BOOKWORM BOOST

Reading books could extend lifespan by up to two years, and the more often you read, the better. 

Adults who read books for as little as 30 minutes daily may live for up to two years longer according to co-author Becca R Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale University School of Public Health.

Numerous studies have hailed the benefits of reading for health. A recent study reported by Medical News Today, for example, found that reading fictional books may encourage empathy. 

The study results accounted for subjects’ sex, age, wealth, education, self-reported health, comorbidities — the presence of two or more health conditions at the same time — and marital status.

VOLUNTARY CODE

Working or volunteering can reduce the chances of chronic health problems leading to physical disability in older people, according to researchers at Georgia State University and Florida State University.

The study found people ages 50 to 64 who worked full-time or part-time or volunteered up to 100 hours per year experienced a reduction in the extent to which chronic conditions were associated with subsequent functional limitations, such as the ability to walk a block or climb a flight of stairs.


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