Eating Fruit as a Child

May Cut Cancer Risk

People who were fed plenty of fruit when they were children are less likely to suffer from certain types of cancer, British scientists said yesterday.

A study of nearly 4,000 men and women showed that the more fruit they ate when they were young, the less likely they were to suffer from lung, bowel and breast cancer later.

"This study shows that childhood fruit consumption may have a long-term protective effect on cancer risk in adulthood," Maria Maynard, of the Medical Research Council in London, said in a report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

All of the adults in the study had filled in a food inventory during the 1930s for a study of eating habits.

Maynard and her colleagues studied the medical records of the group up to July 2000, by which time 483 cases of cancer had been diagnosed. In addition to fewer cases of cancer, a high consumption of fruit was associated with a lower death rate from all causes.

Individual antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and beta carotene were not as protective as fruit.

Many Substances Work

The Same Way on Brain

Whether you smoke a cigarette or use cocaine, certain nerve endings in the brain are tweaked in the same way, suggesting there may be a universal way to treat addiction, researchers said.

Alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, morphine and nicotine all make brain cells hypersensitive, a team at Stanford University in California reported.

"What we have identified is a single change caused by drugs of abuse with different molecular mechanisms," said Robert Malenka of Stanford University Medical Center. The affected brain cells are in a region of the brain called the ventral tegmental area, or VTA, Malenka's team reported in today's issue of the journal Neuron.

Last year, Malenka and his colleagues gave cocaine to mice and found that glutamate, a chemical in the body, was stimulating neurons in the VTA to release dopamine, a key neurotransmitter associated with movement. The brain cells stayed super-sensitive to glutamate for as long as a week.

In the latest study, they found the same is true for cocaine, morphine, amphetamines, nicotine and alcohol. Stress caused similar changes, but other, nonaddictive drugs that act on the brain did not.

Nasal Tissue May Aid

In Diagnosing Illness

When it comes to diagnosing in humans a condition similar to mad cow disease, a patient's nose may provide doctors with some important clues.

Tests on nine people who died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease found that the nasal tissue of all the victims contained defective protein particles that have been linked to the illness, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The nasal tissue of 11 patients with other nerve problems showed no such particles.

The only definitive tests for most cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob require examination of the brain after death. There is no treatment for the disease, which in cows is called bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Gianluigi Zanusso of the University of Verona in Italy led the team.

-- Compiled from reports by Reuters