Bad bug: A common virus already linked to some neurological diseases could play a role in the development of colon cancer, new research suggests.
Researchers at Temple University have linked the JC virus - which affects about 90 percent of humans worldwide, usually in early childhood - to the development of cancer in the intestinal tract.
The virus has previously been linked to brain cancer and the fatal degenerative disease Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy in people with compromised immune systems.
The new study, published in the December Cancer Research, suggests that the virus somehow interacts with proteins that trigger abnormal cell growth. The virus and culprit proteins have been identified in colon cancer cells. The JC virus is usually spread through the air, but could enter the intestinal tract through contaminated water or food.
More research is needed to identify the exact link, said Dr. Kamel Khalili, lead author of the study.
Big cup: Women who consistently drink four cups of caffeinated coffee a day have a significantly lower risk of gallstone disease than those who don't drink coffee, statistics show.
The Harvard Nurses Study followed 80,898 women for 20 years, tracking coffee intake and whether they had surgery to remove the gallbladder.
"Women should not start drinking coffee just to prevent gallstone disease. However, if a woman already happens to be a coffee drinker, our study suggests that it is OK for her to continue drinking coffee in terms of gallstone disease," says Dr. Michael F. Leitzman, lead author of the study.
Researchers believe caffeine could be the protective ingredient. Women are twice as likely as men to develop gallstones.
Winter-proof: Follow this advice from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons for shoveling snow safely, and you could avoid a nasty backache:
Warm up with light exercises for at least 10 minutes.
Keep the shovel close to your body. Don't extend your arms with a shovel full of snow - it puts too much weight on the spine.
Push the snow in front of you whenever possible.
If you must lift the snow, bend from the knees, squat, and lift with your legs.
Scoop up small amounts of snow and walk it to where you'll dump it. Do not toss snow.
Click: The holidays are a difficult time for those recovering from the loss of a loved one. Check out www.aarp.org for information and support.
Study aid: The Society for Women's Health Research has launched its "Some Things Only a Woman Can Do" educational campaign to give women information on participating in clinical research trials. Information: (877) 332-2636 or www.WomanCanDo.org.
Contact Peggy O'Farrell by phone, 768-8510; fax, 768-8330, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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