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News Briefs

Stress and Distress May Give Your Genes Gray Hair


Some stressful events seem to turn a person’s hair gray overnight.

Now a team of researchers has found that severe emotional distress -- like that caused by divorce, the loss of a job, or caring for an ill child or parent -- may speed up the aging of the body’s cells at the genetic level. The findings, being reported Tuesday, are the first to link psychological stress so directly to biological age.

The researchers found that blood cells from women who had spent many years caring for a disabled child were, genetically, about a decade older than those from peers who had much less caretaking experience. The study, which appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also suggests that the perception of being stressed can add years to a person’s biological age.

Though doctors have linked chronic psychological stress to weakened immune function and an increased risk of catching colds, among other things, they are still trying to understand how tension damages or weakens tissue. The new research suggests a new way that such damage may occur and opens the possibility that the process can be reversed.

Suicide Bomber Kills 12 in Iraq


A suicide bomber rammed his car into a group of police officers waiting to collect their salaries on Monday morning west of Ramadi, killing 12 people and wounding many others in the latest attack on Iraq’s security forces, officials at the Interior Ministry said.

In Baghdad, two American soldiers with the 1st Cavalry Division were killed and three were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated near their convoy, military officials said. South of the capital, near the Euphrates River, a volley of mortar fire struck a Marine base on Monday afternoon, wounding 13 Marines and two civilians, military officials said.

In Najaf, the Shiite holy city south of Baghdad, American and Iraqi forces arrested the deputy governor of the province along with 30 other Iraqis and charged them with plotting to kill the American-installed governor, police officials said. The deputy governor, Ali Shaibani, was also charged with having tried to kill the city’s police chief, Ghalab Jazari, officials said.

China Making Major Economic And Diplomatic Effort in Southeast


China moved a step closer to cementing its economic and diplomatic relationships with Southeast Asia on Monday when Prime Minister Wen Jiabao signed a trade accord at a regional summit meeting that calls for eliminating tariffs on a range of agricultural and manufactured goods by 2010.

He also signed a strategic declaration that commits China to good behavior in the Southeast Asian region, including in the contentious area of the South China Sea.

Wen’s presence at the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has come to dominate the event as the 10 member nations wrestle with how to adjust their varying and often heavily protected economies with a surging China.

Wen, in his speech here, outlined his grand concept for an East Asian community that he said China wanted to play a leading role in developing. Deeper cooperation among these nations that would culminate in such a community was a “strategic choice made in the interests of China’s own development and in the common interests of the region,” he said.