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More Fish, Less Tobacco Could Lower Risk of Blindness in Older People


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This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.  I'm Bob Doughty. And I'm Barbara Klein.  This week -- research into eating fish as a possible way to help save eyesight in older people.

A study says moderate coffee drinking may reduce the risk of some diseases.

Muhammad Ali enters the snack food business, but the aim is to help overweight young people.

And if you are listening to us on a personal computer, get ready to wish the P.C. a happy birthday on Saturday.

Two studies are suggesting ways to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.  A.M.D. is the main cause of blindness among older adults.  It affects the macula, the part of the eye that lets you see in detail.  The disease makes seeing less and less clear and in time leads to blindness.

One study found that cigarette smokers were almost two times as likely to develop A.M.D. as people who did not smoke.  Researchers with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary organized the study.  Their findings appeared in the Archives of Ophthalmology.

The study involved men with twin brothers, almost seven hundred individuals.  The average age was about seventy-five.

The men were asked questions about their diet and history of cigarette smoking, alcohol use and physical activity.  Some of the men already had age-related macular degeneration.

The study found that the men who ate more fish, even those who smoked cigarettes, were less likely to develop A.M.D.  Those who ate more than two meals a week containing fish were the least likely to develop the disease.

A second study produced similar results.  It found that people who ate at least one meal containing fish each week were forty-percent less likely to develop A.M.D.

Researchers with the University of Sydney in Australia studied information on almost three thousand people.  Each person was forty-nine years of age or older.  They were asked about their diet and medical history, and then tested for the disease after five years.

The results of both studies have not yet been confirmed.  But they do show a possible link between eating fish and prevention of age-related macular degeneration.

Researchers say the best fish to eat are those high in omega-three fatty acids, like salmon and mackerel.  Some people take fish oil supplements or eat foods, like flax seeds and walnuts, that also have them.

Many people drink coffee to quickly increase their energy levels.  Researchers from Norway and the United States say there may be another reason to drink coffee.  They found that drinking moderate amounts of coffee each day may help protect against some health problems, including heart disease.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  David Jacobs of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis worked on the study with researchers from the University of Oslo.  He says the findings suggest there may be health reasons for drinking coffee.

The researchers studied the link between coffee drinking and risk of death from heart disease, cancer and other diseases that involve inflammation of tissue.

The researchers used information about nearly forty-two thousand women.  The women were between fifty-five and sixty-nine years of age when they entered the study.

The researchers removed some of the women from consideration because of their condition.  Those removed already had heart disease, cancer, diabetes, colitis or liver cirrhosis.  As a result, the number of women studied dropped to twenty-seven thousand three hundred.  During a fifteen-year period, almost four thousand three hundred of them died.

The researchers found a link between the amount of coffee the women reported drinking and their risk of dying from heart disease.  Coffee drinking was measured in cups.  One cup is equal to about two hundred twenty-five grams.

There was a reduced risk of death from heart disease among women who drank from one to three cups of coffee each day.  A reduction in the risk of death from other inflammatory diseases was also seen.  Professor Jacobs says this risk reduction did not decrease among women who drank more coffee.  But the risk reduction for death from heart disease did decrease in women who drank more than three cups a day.

The professor told Reuters Health he would like to see other studies done before making a "very strong statement" in support of coffee drinking.

The researchers say antioxidants in coffee might reduce the risk of heart disease.  Earlier studies found that coffee has high levels of antioxidants.  Antioxidants have been shown to help prevent cancer, heart disease and other conditions.

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You are listening to SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali has started a company that will make healthy food products for young people to eat and drink between meals. The goal is to help young people who are overweight.

The foods and drinks will contain no more than one hundred fifty calories each.  They will contain added vitamins and fiber.The long-established food company, Mars Incorporated, will help develop the products.  Mr. Ali’s new company is called GOAT Food and Beverage.  The name comes from the beginning letters of words used to describe the former boxer -- “Greatest of All Time.”

Early next year, some stores will introduce the snack foods, which will be shaped like equipment used in boxing.

A company official said the new foods are meant for people ages sixteen to twenty-four who often eat between meals.  The idea is for young people to eat the healthy snacks several times a day instead of high-calorie, high-fat foods.

The World Health Organization says more than fifteen percent of American children and young people weigh too much.  Many experts say this is partly because they eat and drink too many foods that are high in calories, fat and sugar.

Doctors say that extreme overweight in young people can have serious results.  Being too fat can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes and liver disease.

Some observers praised the idea of Mr. Ali’s new snack foods.  But others said people might not buy them.  They said people often do not buy food described as healthy because they do not believe it will taste good. Other critics said young people might eat too much of the low calorie food.  Mr. Ali became concerned about overweight children after his son, Sadi, struggled with weight problems.

Muhammad Ali was heavyweight champion of the world three times.  Now he is sixty-four years old.  He suffers from Parkinson’s syndrome.

Mr. Ali says he wants to pass on the values that made him a champion to the next group of champions.  He believes that better nutrition can help young people be the best they can be.

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Last week we discussed the fiftieth anniversary of an important event in the history of computing.  It was the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence.

Now we have another computer-related anniversary to mark.  In New York, on August twelfth, nineteen eighty-one, the International Business Machines company announced a new product.  It was the IBM Personal Computer.  That machine was the first P.C. to become a success on the market.

Personal computers have done a lot in twenty-five years. But, by now, the traditional P.C. is considered old technology. Listen next week for more on the past, present and future of computing.

SCIENCE IN THE NEWS was written by Brianna Blake, Lawan Davis and Jerilyn Watson. Mario Ritter was the producer.  Transcripts and archives of our shows are at voaspecialenglish.com.  I'm Barbara Klein. And I'm Bob Doughty.  If you have a question about science that we might be able to answer on our show, send it to special@voanews.com.  Join us again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of America.


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Source: More Fish, Less Tobacco Could Lower Risk of Blindness in Older People
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