Health Highlights: March 18, 2009

Stimulus Money to Aid Senior Nutrition ProgramsFrankincense Kills Bladder Cancer Cells: StudySome Mental Abilities Begin Decline in Late 20s: Study

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Stimulus Money to Aid Senior Nutrition Programs

Tens of thousands of low-income older Americans will get to eat better with $100 million in Recovery Act funding that is expected to provide some 14 million meals to community programs serving the needy, the Associated Press reported.

"Today, more senior citizens are in need, but the programs they depend on are on the brink of reducing their services or closing down," Vice President Joseph Biden said Wednesday in announcing the award at a Washington, D.C., conference of local officials who are overseeing stimulus spending in their communities. "The Recovery Act will help ensure older Americans are not forced to choose between paying bills and buying food."

The funding is to be awarded to 56 states and territories and 246 tribes and native Hawaiian organizations. States will then award the funds to groups providing nutrition services in their communities, AP said. Of the outlay, $65 million is expected to go for nutrition services at senior centers and other community sites, $32 million to home-delivered food services, and $3 million for Native American nutrition programs.


Frankincense Kills Bladder Cancer Cells: Study

Frankincense oil killed human bladder cancer cells in laboratory tests, say U.S. researchers.

They tested normal bladder cells and human bladder cancer cells and found that frankincense oil could discriminate between the two types of cells, United Press International reported.

Genetic analysis revealed that frankincense oil suppresses bladder cancer cell growth by stopping cell cycle progression and kills the cancer cells by activating numerous cell death pathways, said researchers at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Oklahoma City VA Medical Center.

"Frankincense oil may represent an inexpensive alternative therapy for patients currently suffering from bladder cancer," researcher H.K. Lin said in a statement, UPI reported.

The study appears in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.


Some Mental Abilities Begin Decline in Late 20s: Study

Certain kinds of mental skills hit their peak at age 22 and then begin to decline at age 27, according to U.S. researchers who followed 2,000 healthy people, ages 18 to 60, for an average of seven years.

The study found that age 22 is when the brain reaches the high point in terms of speed of thoughts, ability to reason and visual problem-solving ability, CBC News reported. Test scores in these areas begin to decline at age 27.

University of Virginia psychology professor Timothy Salthouse and colleagues concluded that some "aspects of age-related cognitive decline begin in healthy educated adults when they are in their 20s and 30s."

But the researchers also found that vocabulary skills and general knowledge improved until age 60, CBC News reported.

The study was published in the April issue of the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

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