The thickness of the blood vessels in the retina, located at the back of the eye, could provide a valuable clue about the health of the brain years before dementia and other illnesses manifest, according to a new study published in the journal 'Psychological Science ".

More researches show that young people who obtain a poor result in intelligence tests tend to have a higher risk of suffering from health problems and likely to die early, but scientists have shown that factors such as socioeconomic status or activities impact on health is not entirely explain this link. Idan Shalev, a psychologist at Duke University, along with colleagues wondered if intelligence could serve as a bio marker that indicates the health of the brain, specifically the health of the system of blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to the brain .

To investigate the potential link between intelligence and brain health, researchers have borrowed the technology from an unexpected area: ophthalmology.

Shalev and his colleagues used digital retinal imaging, a relatively new and non-invasive method to obtain clues about the health of blood vessels in the brain by studying the small blood vessels of the retina, which is in part the the back of the eye. Retinal blood vessels in size, structure and functions similar to cerebral blood vessels, thus providing researchers a way to study the health of blood vessels in the brain among living people.

Researchers analyzed data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health participants and Development Study, a longitudinal research that examined the health and behavior of over 1,000 people born between April 1972 and March 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand.

The results were fascinating. At the age of 38 years, wider retinal venules were associated with a lower IQ, this link is maintained even after the researchers took into account the different risk factors to health, lifestyle and environment that could have played a role.
People with wider retinal venules presented evidence attesting cognitive deficits, achieving lower scores in numerous tests of neuropsychological functioning, including tests of verbal comprehension, perceptual thinking, working memory and executive function.

Surprisingly, the data showed that people who had retinal venules are wider at the age of 38 years had experienced a lower IQ in childhood 25 years earlier.

"It is remarkable that the size of the eye venules is linked, no matter how modest, and individuals with mental test scores in the fourth decade of life and childhood IQ test results," the researchers note.

The results suggest that the processes that form a link between vascular health and cognitive functioning begin much earlier than previously thought, with years before dementia and other brain problems to manifest.

"Digital retinal imaging is a tool used by ophthalmologists today mainly to study eye diseases. Our results suggest, however, that could be also a useful tool for psychologists and other researchers who want to study the link between intelligence and health throughout life, "says Shalev.

The study did not identify specific mechanisms underlying the relationship between retinal vessels and cognitive functioning, but researchers suspect that the key would be the resources of oxygen reaching the brain.

"Raising awareness about the retinal blood vessels could allow scientists to develop mechanisms that allow diagnosis and treatment increase oxygen levels in the brain, thereby preventing loss of cognitive abilities with age," the researchers conclude.
Over time, people have tried all sorts of methods to prevent aging, from creams and lotions to activities. A new study shows the secret to have a younger skin and is simple: use a sunscreen every day.

"This is one of the beauty tips that everyone gives, but now we have the first scientific evidence proving it's true," says Adele Green, a researcher at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and one of the authors of the study.

Australian researchers have shown that regular use of sunscreen prevents aging effects of UV radiation. Study in 900 young and middle-aged adults showed that people who used sunscreen on a daily basis did not show any visible sign of aging after 4 and a half years.

The study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine provides scientific evidence in favor of actions recommended by many experts. The study results also show that the use of sunscreen might be a cheaper alternative to anti-aging creams and lotions that are spending billions of dollars annually.

"Protecting skin cancer by using sunscreen regularly also has an additional benefit - it makes us look younger. The study also shows that even in middle age is not too late to adopt beneficial habit, "explained researcher.

"Our results provide evidence showing that regular use of sunscreen slows aging in both men and women of middle age if they are healthy," says Green. Dermatologists suspect that this is true, but so far had no scientific evidence to confirm what they suspected.

The study funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia was conducted on 903 adults who lived in the coastal city of the Australian state of Queensland Nambour. Participants number in the 1,621 people chosen at random from the municipal register.

In this research, half of the participants regularly used a cream with SPF15 + face, arms and hands, while the other half used the cream in their usual style (if they used).

Researchers collected at study start a silicone mold on the back of the hands of all participants, repeating this step at the end of the study to compare the damage between 1992 and 1996 All participants were younger than 55 years, so the researchers are confident that skin aging was caused in most of the sun, not the passage of time.

Scientists have found that people who regularly use sunscreen showed 24% little evidence of skin aging to those who used sunscreen only occasionally.

Although the benefits of sunscreen are widely recognized, so far the only evidence of the anti-aging effects were obtained from studies in hairless mice.

In this study, researchers tested the theory that beta-carotene supplements can prevent aging.

"The research suggests that beta-carotene supplements did not influence skin aging, although we can not exclude a minor effect. We need more studies on beta-carotene to exclude effect, "said Green.

The research was part of the Nambour Skin Cancer Prevention Trial, a study that stretched between 1986 and 2007 which resulted in over 100 scientific research on the effects of sunscreen, said Kirsten MacGregor, spokesman for the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.

Dr. Elizabeth L. Tanzi, a dermatologist and co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, says that "it is a very well done study showing what we dermatologists, we have seen over time: proper use of sunscreen can reduce the signs of skin aging. "

"I think it's fair to call the sunscreen as one of the few products on the market today that actually have an anti-aging" concluded Tanzi.