ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Too Few Screened for Abdominal Aneurysm, Study Says
'Snowbirds' Beware the Climate Changes
High Birth Weight Doubles Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Multiple Screening Strategy Boosts Cervical Cancer Detection
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
CAREGIVING
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
DIABETES
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
Eating Vegan or Raw-Vegan at Regular Restaurants
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Improved Fungicides May Be Easier on Environment
Lead Exposure in Childhood Linked to Criminal Behavior Later
Smog Tougher on the Obese
EYE CARE, VISION
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
FITNESS
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Treat symptoms (result of disease) or diagnose systems (cause of disease)?
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
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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