Cocaine linked to Parkinson’s
U. S. researchers have linked a rising occurrence of Parkinson’s disease in young adults with cocaine abuse.
Parkinson’s, a disease that normally claims elderly victims, is caused by the death of brain cells that respond to the neurochemical dopamine. In the brains of cocaine abusers, dopamine tends to build up, causing continual stimulation and eventual burnout of these receptor cells. Addicts going through withdrawal tend to suffer from Parkinson’s-like symptoms, including hand tremors. Analysis of brain tissue from cocaine addicts who died suddenly revealed a large buildup of a protein called alpha-synuclein—which is found in Parkinson’s sufferers—relative to non abusers.
Archaeologists in South Africa have unearthed primitive bone tools that date back 70,000 years—far before Homo sapiens was thought to have enough smarts to use them. Researchers used to think that 40 or 50,000 years ago, ancient humans developed language, art and tool making, allowing them to leave the African cradle and take up dominance around the world. The bone tools, which are thought to be weapons and awls used to fashion skins into clothing, signal that humans may have had the wits to conquer the globe much earlier in history than scientists had previously believed.