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Walking to prevent breast cancer, cutting out the stress to avoid dementia and diagnosing autism with a brain scan

A round-up of the health news headlines on Tuesday 26 June

We all know exercise is good for you but for women an added incentive to be more active could come from claims that regular walking reduces the risk of breast cancer. The Daily Mail reports that walking for an hour and a half every day could cut the risk of breast cancer by 30 per cent. The effect seen with 10 hours of gentle exercise a week was seen across all age groups but was cancelled out if the women gained weight. Reported in the journal Cancer, the researchers said exercise may decrease cancer risk by reducing the number of fat cells. Study leader Lauren McCullough, from the University of North Carolina said: ‘The take-home message here is that it doesn't need to be intense exercise. You don't need to be a marathon runner or jog on the treadmill everyday.'

But try not to worry too much about your lack of exercise, as scientists warn that stressful lifestyles may be a key trigger for dementia. The Daily Express reports a UK trial of 140 people aged over 50 has been set up to look at how stress contributes to memory decline. Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: ‘Understanding the risk factors for Alzheimer's could provide one piece of the puzzle we need to take us closer to a treatment that could stop the disease in its tracks'.

The BBC is among those reporting that a simple brain trace can pick up autism in children as young as two, according to a study in BMC Medicine. A US trial of nearly 1,000 children identified 33 EEG patterns which appeared to be linked to autism. Study author Dr Frank Duffy said the technique could help pick up autism in younger siblings of those with the condition. He added: ‘EEG could also be used to track what effect different autism treatments are having on the condition.'

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