A Marvelous Month of Science

Stephanie Swift

Taking vitamin supplements might not be as healthy as you think

Antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin C and E, are thought to boost health by reducing the creation of DNA-damaging free radicals that can contribute to the ageing process. In lab mice, there is some suggestion that vitamin supplements can extend lifespan, but since laboratory-bred mice are genetic clones, such studies may bear little relevance to a hugely genetically diverse human population.

Giving wild animals, such as the short-tailed field vole, either vitamin C or E supplements has now been shown to have a less positive impact on health. Continue reading “A Marvelous Month of Science”

Chromosome Silencing Offers New Insights into Down Syndrome

Sally Burn

Down syndrome is caused by the most common chromosomal abnormality in live-born humans: Trisomy 21. Individuals with Down syndrome have three copies (trisomy) of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two. This excess of genetic information leads to deviations in embryonic development such that the baby is born with a subset of defects from a spectrum of characteristic traits. The most obvious indicators are the distinctive Down syndrome facial features (almond shaped eyes, small ears, large tongue) and abnormalities of the hands (single crease on palm, small curved pinky fingers). Further examination may then reveal more serious medical problems including heart abnormalities, gastrointestinal defects, and impaired vision and hearing. Intellectual disabilities are also a common problem. Continue reading “Chromosome Silencing Offers New Insights into Down Syndrome”

Shake What Your Mama Gave You!

Sally Burn

If you eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, exercise, and don’t smoke then you are well on the way to becoming an optimally functioning human. Pat on the back. Extra points if you drink alcohol within guidelines, get eight hours sleep, and don’t go on regular processed meat benders. Deduct ten points for every time you’ve stressed out, rolled giddily in asbestos, or ate your own weight in cake. Continue reading “Shake What Your Mama Gave You!”