ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
CANCER
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
CAREGIVING
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
Caregivers Face Multiple Strains Tending Older Parents
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
DIET, NUTRITION
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Holiday Eating Without the Guilt -- or the Pounds
Vitamin D Vital for the Heart
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure May Damage DNA
Genetics, Environment Shape Sexual Behavior
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
EYE CARE, VISION
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
FITNESS
Football Can Shrink Players
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
New Methods Could Speed Production of Flu Vaccines
Eating Nuts May Help Cholesterol Levels
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Cherry-Enriched Diet Cut Heart Risks in Rats
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
SENIORS
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
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Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's

(HealthDay News) -- A new look at some old data adds convincing evidence that high body fluid levels of the antioxidant urate slow the progressive nerve damage of Parkinson's disease.

However, the researchers also warned of the potential danger of putting that information to immediate use.

"The study doesn't prove that urate is slowing down the disease, and we need clinical trials to see if progression is based on levels of urate," explained study senior author Dr. Michael A. Schwarzschild, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and director of the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases. He and his colleagues reported the finding online Oct. 12 in the Archives of Neurology.

A clinical trial assessing the impact of urate on Parkinson's is beginning, funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation. It is recruiting 90 people with Parkinson's disease at 10 U.S. medical centers to study whether regular intake of inosine, a widely available dietary supplement that is a precursor of urate, slows Parkinson's-related deterioration of nerves. Results are expected to be available in about two years, but more definitive studies will take five years or longer, Schwarzschild said.

Meanwhile, what should people with Parkinson's disease do? "They should be very cautious," Schwarzschild said. "There may be a temptation, but one should be careful because there are clear safety concerns."

The major dangers of overdosing with urate are kidney stones and gout, but there are other possible risks, such as an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, he said.

"There is a lot of vice associated with it, and because we don't know if the case is proven, it would be bad advice to take such measures," Schwarzschild said.

Another expert agreed. "I would not at this point recommend to any Parkinson's patients that they take inosine as a supplement," said Dr. Ira Shoulson, professor of neurology at the University of Rochester in New York and a member of the research team. "I would not for several reasons, mostly to do with safety but also about whether it is beneficial. These are things we have to sort out in future years."

As for natural sources of urate, they are mostly things that people are told to avoid for other reasons, Schwarzschild said -- fructose, the sugar often blamed for an epidemic of obesity; alcohol; and even smoking. "There is a lot of it in liver, but who wants to eat that much liver?" Shoulson added.

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative neurological illness in which deterioration of brain cells causes steadily worsening symptoms such as trembling and slowed motion. Indications that urate might affect the course of Parkinson's began to emerge from epidemiological studies decades ago, Schwarzschild said. More solid evidence came from a study reported last year, which led the researchers of the new study to look back at a two-decades-old study of 800 people with Parkinson's disease.

"They had donated spinal fluid as well as blood, so we were able to test for urate levels in spinal fluid, which surrounds the brain cells," Schwarzschild said.

Analysis showed that the one-fifth of participants with the highest urate levels had a 36 percent lower risk of disease progression compared to the one-fifth with the lowest levels.

"Urate is actually one of the major antioxidants that circulates in humans," Schwarzschild said. "Brain cell degeneration in Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease or ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease], is caused by oxidative damage."

But another expert agreed it's too early for dietary or treatment recommendations.

"This finding is very exciting, but not yet ready for applicability to individual patients," said Dr. Melissa Nirenberg, assistant professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weil Cornell Medical College in New York City, who was not involved in the study.

She said that the previous report had not generated many queries about urate from her patients. "This one may generate more buzz, but it is very, very concerning that uric acid is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other diseases," she said.

If she were asked about inosine, "I would never recommend it to a patient at this stage because we don't know whether it is cause-and-effect rather than just a relationship and whether the potential benefits outweigh the risks," Nirenberg said.

SOURCES: Michael A. Schwarzschild, M.D., Ph.D, associate professor, neurology, Harvard Medical School, director, MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Boston; Ira Shoulson, M.D., professor, neurology, University of Rochester, N.Y.; Melissa Nirenberg, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, neurology and neuroscience, Weil Cornell Medical College in New York City; online Oct. 12, 2009, and December 2009 print edition of Archives of Neurology Published on: October 13, 2009