News in Brief

UC Irvine Sociologist Warns Against Impending Demographic Crisis in China

Sociology Professor Wang Feng has found that 63 percent of Chinese couples are heeding the government’s one-child-per-couple policy. His study also shows that actual birth rates have decreased nearly to the government’s mandated levels.

The study, which involved researchers from both China and the United States, is the first to examine fertility policy and population growth in China and can be found in the current issue of ‘Population and Development Review.’

Results reflect the complexity of the one-child-per-couple policy, such as the exceptions for those who give birth to a girl first or the experiences for parents who themselves emerge from a one-child family.

Most Western countries, with the exception of the United States, have below-replacement birth rates, due to altering family values and financial pressures. Wang plans to study how these factors affect birth rates in China, even for people in rural areas who are legally allowed to have a second or third child.

Researchers Say There Is No Indication That Ethnic Groups’ Genes Cause Diabetes

A joint American and Australian study co-authored by UC Irvine anthropologist Michael Montoya, casts doubt on the 40-year-old genotype theory that certain minority groups are genetically prone to diabetes.

The team of researchers has found no evidence to support the theory that suggests historical cycles of feast and famine generated and passed down a gene that allows the body to use fewer nutrients, which, in turn, leads to obesity and diabetes in modern lifestyles.

The study can be found in the spring issue of ‘Perspectives in Biology and Medicine.’

The study also shows that lifestyle factors, such as poverty, housing segregation or poor diet, play a more significant role in contributing to diabetes than genes. Montoya argues that a better understanding of type II diabetes may only be acquired through a full assessment of social, historical and environmental variables in contrast to only examining genetic factors.

His work indicates that it is impossible for geneticists to scientifically define ethnicity and race, and other factors must be taken into account when examining the onset of diabetes.

Rare Fatal Disease Found in Aliso and Wood Canyon Wilderness Parks

The Orange County Vector Control Department has identified Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in a tick that they collected from Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.

Orange County has not seen a case of RMSF in a human in 15 years. Two people have contacted the OCVCD claiming they think they have the disease.

The tick that was collected in a routine surveillance search, which checks for lime disease.

The disease is fatal between three and seven percent of the time.

Symptoms include high fever, nausea and an aggressive rash. If you have been near the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park and are experiencing these symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help With Alzheimer’s Brain Lesions

Professor LaFerla and his research team found that a type of omega-3 fatty acid may slow the growth of brain lesions, which contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, and diets rich in docosohexaenoic acid can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s later in life. DHA can prevent the signature tau protein tangles that contribute to brain lesions and the introduction of Alzheimer’s. DHA can also reduce levels of the protein that can cause clumps and form plaque.

Other studies have shown that DHA may have a therapeutic effect for patients of Alzheimer’s, but this study indicates that it can actually delay the onset of the disease. The full study can be found in the April 18 issue of ‘The Journal of Neuroscience.’

LaFerla and his team studied mice to obtain the results of this study. The mice were given food that mimicked a typical American diet and different levels of omega fatty acids. They found that DHA works better independently than when paired with omega-6 fatty acids.

The results of this study further support the growing notion that lifestyle modification and diet may reduce the onset and risk of Alzheimer’s disease. LaFerla has also shown, through previous studies, that keeping one’s mind active and reducing stress also delays the onset of this neurodegenerative disease.