This week in health news: Has a cure for baldness been found?

Somebody tell Prince Charles! Credit: Getty Images
Somebody tell Prince Charles!
Credit: Getty Images

New remedy for hair loss uses human cells to grow hair from scratch

Location of study: U.S./U.K.

Study subjects: Mice

Results: A new a hair restoration method that grows human hair from a patient’s own cells has been found, according to researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). Rather than redistributing hair from one part of the scalp to another, this new method turns hair follicles upside down and then transplants them. Scientists tested the hair growth on totally hairless body parts — circumcised infants’ foreskin. This is the first time that human dermal papilla cells (those inside the base of human hair follicles) have been used to create new hairs.

Significance: If it’s found to be an effective treatment, this could work on everything from female hair loss to male pattern balding to repairing hair growth in burn victims.

New blood test might be key to effective diagnosis of IBS

Location of study: US

Study subjects: 221 patients with IBS, IBD or neither

Results: A simple blood test may be the most effective way to determine if a patient is suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), say Cedars-Sinai researchers, who found that antibodies that form against a particular protein, vinculin, were found in the blood of IBS patients but not healthy or IBD patients. In the study, anti-vinculin antibodies were significantly elevated in IBS patients. The study and results were presented at the recent American College of Gastroenterology’s 78th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, Calif.

Significance: “Until this study, there had been no accurate biomarkers identified specifically for IBS. The new blood test has the potential to distinguish IBS from IBD, and reduce the need for unnecessary testing, expense, and years of suffering,” says co-author of the study Mark Pimentel, MD, an IBS expert. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the U.S., afflicting 30 million people with many more potential patients thought to be misdiagnosed.

Meat-eating men have poorer quality sperm

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: 364 semen samples from 156 men who visited Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center

Results: Harvard School of Public Health claims that a recent study of their found that the quality of semen samples from men in sub-fertile couples was poorer in those who ate more processed meat (like bacon and sausage) and red meat than those who didn’t. The study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, also found that that men whose intake of white fish had a higher quality or normal sperm, and those who ate fatty fish such as tuna had the healthiest sperm of all.

Significance: “What brought up our concern is how meat is produced in the United States,” Dr. Jorge Chavarro, one of the researchers, told the Daily News. “Many beef producers give cattle natural or synthetic hormones to stimulate growth, a few days or weeks before the animals are killed. We wanted to examine how these hormones might affect people who consume them.”

Girls and boys respond differently to a school-based healthy diet

Location of study: Argentina

Study subjects: 400 school-aged children

Results: In school, girls are more likely to choose healthy foods than boys do, according to a study published in the Pan American Journal of Public Health. However, both boys and girls participating in the study reduced consumption of foods such as hamburgers and hot dogs based on a health eating workshop.

Significance: The researchers suggested that girls may be more concerned with physical appearance even at an early age and are more affected by what researchers called “social learning interventions,” while boys may be more affected by programs that involve physical activity. They suggested that gender differences should be considered when planning obesity prevention interventions for school-aged children.


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