JAMA 20 December 2006

What will your brain be like when you’re 73? Quite good, in all likelihood, and all the better if you keep it ACTIVE. The study with this name randomised elderly adults to no training or cognitive training consisting of sessions on reasoning, memory, and speed of thinking. The effects of each type of training persisted for five years, though only the first kind produced measurable benefits in the activities of daily living. Let’s have cognitive training lessons for everybody, say I – why wait till 73? Cogito ergo sum. Quis non cogitat, crumblat.

Successful kidney transplantation depends on successful immune suppression, but unfortunately the kind of immune suppression which facilitates the acceptance of other people’s body parts may also facilitate the acceptance of oncogenic viruses. This big survey of cancer following renal transplantation in Australia and New Zealand finds an overall three-fold increased cancer risk in recipients compared to patients on long-term dialysis, and most of the highest-risk cancers are those which are thought to have viral aetiology, such as lymphomas and cancers of the oropharynx (among many others).

Stored sera are the researcher’s friend. The US Department of Defense Serum Repository has 7 million samples and its owners have an annual budget of $450 billion. For those lucky enough to get at the samples, the repository must be hypothesis-generators’ heaven, and this study tells us that high levels of vitamin D are associated with a lower risk of multiple sclerosis. I suppose that squares with the epidemiology and is also biologically plausible, so worth noting as another piece in the uncompleted jigsaw of MS causation.