Correct color blindness

Lenses developed to help doctors spot veins more easily have a useful side effect - they enhance the ability to see red and green.

The glasses, made by 2AI Labs in Boise, Idaho, use filters to enhance perception of blood-oxygen levels in vessels under the skin. The filters concentrate their effects around the wavelengths where people with red-green color blindness have deficiencies.

"We didn't design them for color-blind people," says Mark Changizi, of 2AI Labs, "but we weren't too surprised to find they help."

Daniel Bor, a color-blind neuroscientist at the University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, tried the specs.

"They made my daughter's lips and her red-orange jumper really stand out," he says.

Lower melanoma risk

We all know regular aspirin use lowers the risk of a heart attack or stroke. And some studies have indicated it can lower the risk of breast, colon and other cancers.

The over-the-counter drug's ability to reduce inflammation also might be the secret to a previously unknown benefit - lowering the risk of melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer.

Researchers at Stanford analyzed data from nearly 60,000 white women whose data was included in the federally funded Women's Health Initiative. Information on the women, age 50 to 79 when the study began, was collected for an average of 12 years.

The longer the women took aspirin, the greater the reduction in risk: Those who had taken it twice weekly for 1-4 years had an 11 percent risk reduction; those who took it regularly for at least five years had a 30 percent risk reduction.

Dr. Jean Tang of Stanford University Medical School was the senior author of the study, which was published in the journal Cancer. She thinks aspirin's ability to reduce inflammation is the key to controlling the growth of cancerous cells.

However, the study found no similar benefits from taking other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, known as NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen.

One flaw of the study is the information was self-reported by study subjects, and thus there's no firm evidence aspirin prevents melanoma. Researchers can only make that association, based on the data.

Considering the side effects of regular aspirin use, which can include bleeding in the stomach, it's wise to check with your doctor before beginning taking the drug.