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Olive oil versus stroke People who consume olive oil copiously appear less vulnerable to stroke than those who avoid it, medical records from 7,600 people in France show. Scientists used questionnaire responses to classify people as those who never use olive oil, those who use it either to cook or as a dressing for bread or salad or those who use it for all of those purposes. They then tallied up the number of strokes among the study participants over a five-year period. After adjusting for differences among the groups, the most frequent users of olive oil were 41 percent less likely to have had a stroke than the abstainers, a French research team reported online June 15 in Neurology. — Nathan Seppa
Human nose cells help mice remember
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Dementia in Down syndrome As people with Down syndrome get older, ominous clumps and strands of proteins build up in brain regions important for memory, reasoning and emotions, a brain-scan study finds. The results help explain why many people with Down syndrome develop an Alzheimer’s-like dementia. UCLA researchers looked for protein plaques and tangles — two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease — in the brains of 19 people with Down syndrome and 10 people with Alzheimer’s disease. Although the people with Down syndrome were younger and showed no signs of dementia, they had higher levels of plaques and tangles than the people with Alzheimer’s, researchers report in the June Archives of Neurology . — Laura Sanders
Wheat extract fights obesity and more Eating meals enriched with arabinoxylan — a constituent of dietary fiber — improves weight and blood sugar control in mice, Belgian scientists report June 9 in PLoS ONE . Studies had shown that high-fat diets diminish populations of beneficial gut bacteria, contributing to weight gain. For their new study, the scientists added arabinoxylan from wheat to the high-fat fare they fed some adult mice. After four weeks, these animals had higher concentrations of good gut germs than did mice getting just the high-fat fare. They also developed less body fat, had better blood sugar control and showed fewer signs of inflammation, all results of the arabinoxylan supplementation, the authors conclude. — Janet Raloff
High-fat diet may injure brain In animals, diets high in fat can injure brain cells responsible for controlling body weight. In a new study, researchers fed rats and mice various diets for several days to many months and then measured biochemical changes in the animals’ brains. High-fat diets induced signs of both inflammation and wound healing, Joshua Thaler of the University of Washington in Seattle reported June 7 at the Endocrine Society meeting in Boston. These changes occurred in the hypothalamus, where among other things, the scientists witnessed a loss of cells crucial to weight regulation. Thaler said these findings “offer a new explanation for why sustained weight loss is so difficult for most obese individuals.” — Janet Raloff