In Brief: Astronomy

In Brief

October 13, 2006

Storm on Jupiter may be more intense

A little more than a year ago, the small spot on Jupiter was a pale white; now it matches the reddish hue of its bigger sibling, the Great Red Spot, and boasts 400 mph winds, according to new data from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Both spots are actually fierce storms in Jupiter's atmosphere. While the red spot - at three times the size of Earth - is much more noticeable, strange things are happening to the Little Red Spot, officially called "Oval BA."

It probably gained strength as it shrunk slightly, the same way spinning ice skaters go faster when they move their arms closer, said NASA planetary scientist Amy Simon-Miller. Her findings from the Hubble data were published in the astronomical journal Icarus.

As the storm has grown stronger, it's probably picked up red material from lower in the Jupiter atmosphere, she said.



Go online to report statins problems

As anti-cholesterol statin drugs proliferate, a new Web site will enable people to report adverse effects of statins and other cholesterol-fighting drugs.

The site ( is operated by the University of California, San Diego with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The UCSD statin study's e-mail address is statin

Many physicians "are unfamiliar with the adverse experiences with these drugs that many people have reported - such as effects on muscle pain or weakness, memory and thinking or mood," said Dr. Beatrice A. Golomb of UCSD.

Although drug manufacturers report only rare side effects, Golomb said, "We received many calls from patients," with side effects and questions about what to expect, which the Web site also addresses.

Statin drugs Lipitor and Zocor were the top two selling U.S. drugs in 2004, according to Consumer Reports.

Cox News Service


Treatment may affect brain for years

Chemotherapy can cause changes in the brain's metabolism and blood flow that can last as long as 10 years, a discovery that may explain the mental fog and confusion that affect many cancer survivors, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles found that women who had undergone chemotherapy five to 10 years earlier had lower metabolism in a key region of the frontal cortex.

They also showed a spike in blood flow to the frontal cortex and cerebellum while performing memory tests, indicating a rapid jump in activity level, the scientists said in a statement.

The study was published Oct. 5 in the online edition of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.



FDA approves canola oil labels

Canola oil may now be sold to consumers as a product that can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States with half a million victims annually.

Labels can say that limited evidence suggests consuming 19 grams - about 1 1/2 tablespoons - of canola oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease because of its unsaturated fat content, the Food and Drug Administration said. Canola oil should replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories a person eats each day, the FDA said.


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