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Scientist affirm mother’s advice

In a breakthrough, scientists present the first proof that simple exposure to cold weather is the leading cause of the common cold.//

So, if your mother always warned you to wrap up warm to avoid catching a cold, it seems she may have had a point.

Scientists say they have the first proof that there really is a link between getting cold and catching one.

Their study findings will appear in this week’s The Oxford Journal of Family Practice, an international scientific publication from Oxford University.

Scientists have scoffed at the notion for years, arguing that it is the cold virus that actually causes colds, not exposure to increment weather.

For the study, staff at the Common Cold Center in Cardiff recruited 180 volunteers during the peak common cold season - October to March and asked half of them to keep their bare feet in icy water for 20 minutes, and the other the others had their feet in an empty bowl. 29 percent developed a cold within five days, compared with only 9 percent in the control group not exposed to a chill.

Professor Ronald Eccles, director of the center, said the study had shown, for the first time, a scientific link between chilling and viral infection - something previously dismissed by other studies.

According to Prof Eccles, when colds are circulating in the community, many people are mildly infected but show no symptoms. If they become chilled, this causes a pronounced constriction of the blood vessels in the nose and shuts off the warm blood that supplies the white cells that fight infection. The reduced defenses in the nose allow the virus to get stronger and common cold symptoms develop.

"Although the chilled subject believes they have 'caught a cold' what has, in fact, happened is that the dormant infection has taken hold," he said.

The Common Cold Centre, at Cardiff University, is the world's only centre dedicated to researching and testing new medicines for the treatment of flu and the common cold.

The researchers assert that the fact that common colds are more prevalent in the winter could be related to an increased incidence of chilling causing more clinical colds, but a cold nose may also be one of the major factors that cause common colds to be seasonal. Cooling of the nose slows down clearance of viruses from the nose and slows down the white cells that fight infection.

This may have been common knowledge to mothers for years, but now, for the first time, science seems to have proved them right.

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