U.N. Says Greenhouse

Gases Could Be Stored

Burying heat-trapping gases emitted by power plants and factories could play a big role in fighting global warming but would be a costly fix needing strong government backing, a U.N. panel said.

The survey by 100 experts said greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide can be filtered from chimneys of plants burning fossil fuels then piped into disused mines or oilfields for storage. The gases might also be dissolved in the oceans.

The hitch was the cost.

Electricity prices could typically rise by 25 to 80 percent if power plant operators, the most promising users, adopted the technology, according to the report yesterday by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

If exploited via hundreds of thousands of storage sites around the world, the system could encompass 15 to 55 percent of total projected cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases needed to offset climate change by 2100, the report said.

Weight Loss May Precede Alzheimer's

Unexplained weight loss in older people might be an early signal of Alzheimer's disease, appearing several years before the memory lapses, according to an intriguing but unproven new theory.

Researchers at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center base the theory on their study of 820 Roman Catholic priests, nuns and brothers, age 75 on average, who were followed for up to 10 years.

Otherwise-healthy participants whose body mass index fell the most were the most likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.

Co-author David Bennett, director of the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, said the results raise the possibility that the disease attacks brain regions involved in regulating food intake and metabolism, as well as memory, and that weight loss is an early symptom.

Weight loss frequently occurs after an Alzheimer's diagnosis and has been attributed partly to memory lapses or infirmity.

The results appear in the Sept. 27 edition of the journal Neurology.

Study Finds No Benefit

From Estrogen Pills

In yet another blow to the belief that most women need hormones to feel better after menopause, fresh evidence from a landmark study shows that estrogen-only pills had little effect on older women's quality of life.

More than 10,000 women with an average age of 63 were asked about general health, mental, physical and social functioning, energy level and emotional health before and a year after they started taking either estrogen or dummy pills.

Some scores dipped and others rose slightly, but there was little overall difference between the groups, which each included more than 5,000 women. Women taking estrogen reported slightly fewer sleep problems but slightly worse social functioning than those on dummy pills, but the differences were minimal. Overall quality-of-life scores were high for both groups.

Participants were part of the government's Women's Health Initiative, which did a long-running study on the risks and benefits of hormones. Use plummeted after results in 2002 linked estrogen-progestin pills sold as Prempro with an increased risk for heart attacks, breast cancer and strokes in postmenopausal women.

The new results for estrogen-only pills echo previous data showing estrogen-progestin had little effect on women's overall well-being and quality of life. The women in the latest study, published in yesterday's Archives of Internal Medicine, had all had hysterectomies.

-- From News Services