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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
Genetic contribution to autism

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, July 17, 2008 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   
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          Doctors eye vitamin D link to autism

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, -- Two Swedish doctors are calling for 
more vitamin D amid a possible link between lack of sunlight
and an increased rate of autism. A lack of sunlight during 
Sweden's winters, combined with the use of sunscreen and 
efforts to avoid sun exposure can result in vitamin D def-
iciencies, which some doctors say could contribute to dep-
ression and autism, The Local newspaper said Monday. The 
problem is especially noticeable in Somalis living in Sweden.
Researchers theorize the high incidence of autism in Somali 
children in Sweden is due to the lower levels of sunlight.
"Dark-skinned people demand significantly more sunlight to 
enable vitamin D to build up in their skin. The combination
of clothing which covers the body and dark skin is a partic-
ularly problematic combination, especially for someone who 
doesn't eat fatty fish," researchers Susanne Bejerot and 
Mats Humble said in an article published in the Dagens 
Nyheter newspaper.

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       Trial studies cancer vaccine-response link

LOS ANGELES, -- The stronger the immune system's response 
the better the outcome in fighting brain cancer, researchers
at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles said Tuesday. Res-
earchers conducted a clinical trial of a dentritic cell 
vaccine designed to fight malignant brain tumors to study 
the correlation between the strength of a patient's immune 
system response and a clinical outcome, the hospital said 
in a news release. "Fifty-three percent of patients in our 
study exhibited a significant vaccine-enhanced immune res-
ponse. Compared to non-responders or those with limited 
responses, the vaccine responders had significantly longer 
times to tumor progression and longer survival," said study 
author Dr. Keith L. Black, chairman of Cedars-Sinai's 
Department of Neurosurgery and director of the Maxine Dunitz
Neurosurgical Institute. The study is believed to be the 
first to show a direct link between the strength and prop-
ortional relationship of anti-tumor responses and benefits 
in cancer patients, the author said. This also may be the 
first documentation of a definite immune response-patient 
outcome correlation that can be credited to tumor-altering 

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           EU approves baobab fruit for market

LONDON,-- The European Commission has approved the sale of 
baobab as an ingredient in cereal bars and smoothies. The 
fruit from the African baobab tree is exceptionally high in 
vitamin C and an excellent source of calcium and iron, 
PhytoTrade Africa said. Baobab required government approval 
because of EU legislation stating that any food no eaten in 
Europe prior to 1997 must gain special approval before it 
can used in products for the European Market. A 2007 report
by Britain's Natural Resources Institute estimates baobab 
has the potential to be a billion-dollar industry for Africa
and could employ over 2.5 million households, PhytoTrade 
said in a news release.
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         Genetic contribution to autism examined

PASADENA, -- A joint study by two U.S. universities found 
further evidence of a genetic contribution to autism, res-
earchers said Tuesday. The research found that some par-
ents of autistic children evaluate facial expressions sim-
ilar to their children, researchers from California Institute
of Technology in Pasadena and the University of North Caro-
lina at Chapel Hill said in a news release. The researchers 
and autism experts from the two universities studied 42 par-
ents -- 15 of whom were classified as socially aloof -- of 
autistic children with autism. Researchers said parents part-
icipated in an experiment that measured how they make use 
parts of the face to judge emotions. They were shown exp-
ressions filtered so only certain parts of the face were 
visible and asked to decide quickly if the emotion were 
"happy" or "fear." "Aloof" parents relied more heavily on 
the mouth to recognize emotion than the eyes, research showed. 
"We found that some parents who have a child with autism 
process face information in a subtly, but clearly different 
way from other parents," said Cal-Tech neuroscientist 
Ralph Adolphs. "It may lead us to finding genes that are 
responsible for the face-processing component in autism," 
added UNC psychiatrist Joe Piven. The findings will be pub-
lished Thursday in the online edition of Current Biology.
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