Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Extra weight linked to dementia risk: study

Extra weight linked to dementia risk: study

Updated at: 1659 PST, Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Extra weight linked to dementia risk: study NEW YORK: Carrying around extra pounds during middle age was associated with a higher risk of dementia later in life in a new study that followed twins in Sweden for 30 years.

The research was not set up to prove that dementia was caused by the added weight, but Dr. Weili Xu, the study's lead author from the Karolinksa Institutet in Stockholm, said that the evidence is pointing in that direction.

The findings, published in the journal Neurology, suggest that "control of body fat as early as middle life is important to prevent dementia later in life," she said.

Xu and her colleagues analyzed data from close to 9,000 Swedish twins.

When the participants were an average age of 43, they gave researchers information about their height and weight.

Thirty years later, the researchers examined the same individuals for signs of declining thinking and memory skills, then diagnosed some of them with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

Close to one in three of the participants were overweight or obese in middle age. And those that were had about an 80 percent higher chance of getting any kind of dementia than people of normal weight.

The more participants weighed in mid-life, the higher their chance of getting dementia or "questionable dementia" - meaning they had signs of thinking and reasoning problems, but not enough to be diagnosed with dementia.

In total, about 4 percent of everyone in the study was diagnosed with dementia, and another 1 to 2 percent with questionable dementia.

Despite the link between excess pounds in midlife and later dementia, when the researchers looked specifically at 137 twin pairs who were "discordant" - one twin had dementia and the other didn't - the tie to midlife overweight shrank considerably.

While Xu said that finding suggests that "there are some common genes that predispose (people) to both diseases (overweight and dementia)," it could also be that it was just more difficult to establish a solid link in such a small sample.

Whether genes predispose a person to being overweight in adulthood, or it's just bad eating habits, the likely explanation for the link to dementia, researchers say, is that fat tissue in the body releases hormones and other signaling cells that may affect the brain's functioning.

In addition, Xu said, extra weight has been shown to increase a person's risk for diabetes and heart and blood vessel diseases - and those conditions are related to a higher dementia risk. However, the link between weight and dementia remained even after the researchers took other diseases into account.

The findings are the latest evidence that preventing Alzheimer's disease and dementia starts long before their signs and symptoms typically show up, said Rachel Whitmer, an epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland who was not involved in the study.

"People need to understand that what they do today could have an effect on them 30 or 40 years from now," Whitmer told.

When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, she said, "what's good for the heart is good for the brain." (Reuters)

Oil prices slide on eurozone worries, Osama death

Updated at: 1718 PST, Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Oil prices slide on eurozone worries, Osama death LONDON: Oil prices slid on Tuesday on fresh concerns over the eurozone debt crisis, alongside implications from the death of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June tumbled $1.33 to $123.79 a barrel in early afternoon London deals. New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for June, sank $1.22 to $122.30 a barrel.

"Both Brent and (New York) crude oil contracts slid lower in correction, following the uncertain economic conditions as renewed concerns raised about eurozone's sovereign debt problems, especially for Greece," said Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou.

Prices had fluctuated wildly on Monday following weekend news of bin Laden's demise. In a dramatic announcement on Sunday, the White House revealed that US forces had killed the al-Qaeda chief behind the September 11, 2001 attacks, at his secret compound in Pakistan.

In reaction, New York crude had plunged on Monday underneath $110 a barrel, but swiftly reversed course to peak at $114.83 before easing back.

"The energy market was fairly volatile on Monday following news that the US forces claimed killing Osama bin Laden," said analyst Sokou.

"Crude oil prices initially fell almost $4 per barrel but easily rebounded and rallied with Brent oil climbing above $126 per barrel, while WTI crude oil almost tested the $115 per barrel area," she added.

Meanwhile, investors are also monitoring political unrest in the oil-producing Arab world and its impact on crude supplies.

Later on Tuesday, traders will absorb more crucial economic data in the United States, which is the world's biggest crude-consuming nation.

Figures slated for publication include US durable goods and factory orders for March, while the market will monitor the dollar's direction.

A weaker US currency makes dollar-priced oil cheaper, boosting demand and leading to higher prices. (AFP)

Pak had no knowledge of US operation against Osama: FO

Pak had no knowledge of US operation against Osama: FO

Updated at: 2040 PST, Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Pak had no knowledge of US operation against Osama: FO ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday denied any prior knowledge of the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, but said it had been sharing information about the targeted compound with the CIA since 2009.

The al Qaeda leader was shot dead by U.S. Special Forces in an attack on a sprawling compound in Abbottabad early on Monday.

"Neither any base nor facility inside Pakistan was used by the U.S. forces, nor the Pakistan Army provided any operational or logistic assistance to these operations conducted by the U.S. forces," the foreign ministry said in a lengthy statement.

While Islamabad hailed the killing of bin Laden as an important milestone in the fight against terrorism, the statement said Pakistan had expressed "deep concerns" that the operation was carried out without informing it in advance.

"This event of unauthorised unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule," the ministry said.

According to the statement, U.S. helicopters entered Pakistani airspace by making use of "blind spots" in the radar coverage caused by the hilly terrain surrounding Abbottabad.

The foreign ministry said the Pakistani air force scrambled its jets within minutes of being informed of the U.S. operation but there was no engagement with the U.S. forces as they had already left Pakistani airspace.

It said Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency had been sharing information about the compound with the CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009 and had continued to do so until mid-April.

"It is important to highlight that taking advantage of much superior and technological assets, CIA exploited the intelligence leads given by us to identify and reach Osama bin Laden."(Reuters)

US feared Pak might 'alert' Osama about raid: CIA

US feared Pak might 'alert' Osama about raid: CIA

Updated at: 2245 PST, Tuesday, May 03, 2011
US feared Pak might WASHINGTON: CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an interview Tuesday that officials ruled out informing Islamabad about a planned raid against Osama bin Laden's compound as they feared their Pakistani counterparts might alert the Al-Qaeda chief.

Panetta told a British magazine that "it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission: They might alert the targets."

Panetta also told the magazine that the options presented to President Barack Obama included bombing the compound with B-2 bombers or firing a "direct shot" with cruise missiles. Air strikes were in the end ruled out because of the risk of "too much collateral," said Panetta, a reference to potential civilian casualties.

During White House deliberations, Panetta said he acknowledged there was only "circumstantial evidence" that Bin Laden was in the compound, as there were no spy satellite photos of the Al-Qaeda founder in the large compound.

Although his CIA aides were only 60-80 percent confident that Bin Laden was there, Panetta argued to Obama at a pivotal meeting Thursday that it was worth taking the gamble and that it was the best chance to take out the Al-Qaeda mastermind since a failed attempt in 2001 after the US invasion of Afghanistan.

He said he told the White House meeting, "when you put it all together ... we have the best evidence since (the 2001 battle of) Tora Bora (where bin Laden was last seen), and that then makes it clear that we have an obligation to act." (AFP)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shahbaz meets Gen. Kayani

Shahbaz meets Gen. Kayani

Shahbaz meets Gen. Kayani ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif met Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Sunday night, The News has learnt.

In the meeting, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan's statement about the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), came under discussion.

Views were also exchanged on the continuity of professional training of Punjab Police to check terrorism in the province. Sources said during the meeting, the Army chief also advised the Punjab chief minister about breaking terrorist networks in the southern and central parts of the province.

Al Qaeda leader bin Laden dead, says Obama

Al Qaeda leader bin Laden dead, says Obama

Al Qaeda leader bin Laden dead, says Obama WASHINTON: Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed on Sunday in a firefight with U.S. forces in Pakistan and his body was recovered, President Barack Obama announced on Sunday.

"Justice has been done," Obama said in a dramatic, late-night White House speech announcing the death of the elusive mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the New York and Washington.

Obama said U.S. forces led the operation that killed bin Laden. No Americans were killed in the operation and they took care to avoid civilian casualties, he said. "The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda and a terrorist who is responsible for the murder of thousands of men, women and children," Obama said. It is a major accomplishment for Obama and his national security team, after many Americans had given up hope of ever finding bin Laden.

A crowd gathered outside the White House to celebrate, chanting, "USA, USA." Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, had repeatedly vowed to bring bin Laden to justice "dead or alive" for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly3,000 people, but never did before leaving office in early 2009.

U.S. officials said that after searching in vain for the al Qaeda leader since he disappeared in Afghanistan in late 2001, the Saudi-born extremist was killed in the Pakistani town of Abbotabad and his body recovered. Having the body may help convince any doubters that bin Laden is really dead.

He had been the subject of a search since he eluded U.S. soldiers and Afghan militia forces in a large-scale assault on the Tora Bora Mountains of Afghanistan in 2001. The trail quickly went cold after he disappeared and many intelligence officials believed he had been hiding in Pakistan.

While in hiding, bin Laden had taunted the West and advocated his militant Islamist views in videotapes spirited from his hideaway. Besides Sept. 11, Washington has also linked bin Laden to a string of attacks -- including the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 bombing of the warship USS Cole in Yemen.