2012 July 10 Tuesday
Stand Up To Live Longer

Sitting kills.

Restricting the amount of time spent seated every day to less than 3 hours might boost the life expectancy of US adults by an extra 2 years, indicates an analysis of published research in the online journal BMJ Open.

Only an observational study. But other studies have found the same pattern.

And cutting down TV viewing to less than 2 hours every day might extend life by almost 1.4 years, the findings suggest.

Several previous studies have linked extended periods spent sitting down and/or watching TV to poor health, such as diabetes and death from heart disease/stroke.

I say get rid of the TV. You'll go thru withdrawal, maybe even for months. But once you've kicked the TV addiction it loses its allure.

By Randall Parker    2012 July 10 11:21 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2011 August 15 Monday
6 Hours Per Day TV Cuts 5 Years Off Life Expectancy?

Television as mass murdering machine.

Watching TV for an average of six hours a day could shorten the viewer's life expectancy by almost five years, indicates research published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The impact rivals that of other well known behavioural risk factors, such as smoking and lack of exercise, the study suggests.

Sedentary behaviour - as distinct from too little exercise - is associated with a higher risk of death, particularly from heart attack or stroke. Watching TV accounts for a substantial amount of sedentary activity, but its impact on life expectancy has not been assessed, say the authors.

Want to watch an hour TV show? That'll cost you 22 minutes of life. This is like a Twilight Zone episode where the devil makes a deal with someone. Free cable with 500 channels in exchange for your soul.

In 2008 the authors estimated that Australian adults aged 25 and older watched 9.8 billion hours of TV, which led them to calculate that every single hour of TV watched after the age of 25 shortened the viewer's life expectancy by just under 22 minutes.

You could pedal in place while you watch your favorite TV shows. But exercise while watching TV seems like too much a distraction. I gave up TV in large part to do more reading. I go for walks while reading books on a Kindle (gotta notice street crossings). But that only works when it is light out and not raining and it only works for what one has on an e-reader. It seems hard to integrate exercise with a modern lifestyle.

Also see Television Watchers Die Sooner.

By Randall Parker    2011 August 15 10:09 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2010 September 15 Wednesday
Massage Lowers Stress Marker Cortisol

Hey, trying to stay healthy involves all sorts of sacrifices like eating dark chocolate. I realize some of you feel burdened every time you read about yet another thing you should do to improve your health. One more obligation, yet another chore. Staying healthy is hard work. I can't offer you relief because here's another one: You've got to get regular massages to lower stress.

LOS ANGELES – Sept. 7, 2010 – Researchers in Cedars-Sinai's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences have reported people who undergo massage experience measureable changes in their body's immune and endocrine response.

Although there have been previous, smaller studies about the health benefits of massage, the Cedars-Sinai study is widely believed to be the first systematic study of a larger group of healthy adults.

No shirking your responsibility. Buck it up. The arguments for Swedish massage are just too compelling to ignore:

Among the study's results:

  • People in the Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes ,(lymphocyte numbers and percentages white blood cells that play a large role in defending the body from disease.
  • Swedish massage caused a large decrease (effect size -.74) in Arginine Vasopressin (AVP) a hormone believed to play a role in aggressive behavior and linked to helping cause increases in the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Swedish massage caused a decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Swedish massage caused a notable decrease in most cytokines produced by stimulated white blood cells.

Do not dismiss the cortisol-lowering benefits of massage. High cortisol is associated with a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Chevy Chase, MD—High levels of the stress hormone cortisol strongly predict cardiovascular death among both persons with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

In stressful situations, the body responds by producing the hormone cortisol. The effects of cortisol are intended to help the body recover from stress and regain a status of homeostasis, however chronically elevated cortisol levels have been associated with cardiovascular risk factors, such as the metabolic syndrome and accelerated atherosclerosis.

The highest level of cortisol is assocated with a 5 times greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Researchers found that urinary cortisol did not increase the risk of non-cardiovascular mortality but did increase cardiovascular mortality risk. The third of the subjects with the highest urinary cortisol had a five-fold increased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.

Chocolate also appears to cut cortisol and also cut risk of cardiovascular disease.

So when you go for a massage take some dark chocolate along to eat at the same time. Also, marriage and romance lower cortisol.

By Randall Parker    2010 September 15 11:14 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2010 July 27 Tuesday
Socially Connected People Live Longer

Socially isolated people are more likely to kick the bucket, push up the daisies, go thru the final check-out, and do the Big Sleep.

A new Brigham Young University study adds our social relationships to the “short list” of factors that predict a person’s odds of living or dying.

In the journal PLoS Medicine, BYU professors Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy Smith report that social connections – friends, family, neighbors or colleagues – improve our odds of survival by 50 percent. Here is how low social interaction compares to more well-known risk factors:

- Equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day

- Equivalent to being an alcoholic

- More harmful than not exercising

- Twice as harmful as obesity

“The idea that a lack of social relationships is a risk factor for death is still not widely recognized by health organizations and the public,” write the PLoS Medicine editors in a summary of the BYU study and why it was done.

You could join a sun bathing club to get enough vitamin D. Double bonus points. Though skin cancer could be a problem. Or join a hunter-gatherer tribe and eat a natural Paleo Diet. Again, two birds with one stone.

Stop smoking or get some friends. If you are a smoker who opts to get some friends choose fellow smokers so that non-smokers don't have to breath in the second hand smoke.

Individuals with adequate social relationships have a 50% greater likelihood of survival compared to those with poor or insufficient social relationships. The magnitude of this effect is comparable with stopping smoking and exceeds many well known risk factors for mortality such as obesity and physical inactivity. These are the main findings of a meta-analysis of social relationships and mortality risk conducted by Julianne Holt-Lunstad (Brigham Young University, Utah, USA) and colleagues and published in this week's PLoS Medicine.

Pick up a new lover at a bar and start an affair. Anything to avoid loneliness.

If friendships lengthen life expectancies how do they do this? Being alone is probably more stressful for most people. Also, friends can help get you to a doctor or hospital or take care of you when you are sick. Plus, if your girlfriend is a good cook you'll eat better. Certainly has worked for me.

By Randall Parker    2010 July 27 10:41 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2010 June 10 Thursday
Scots Have Bad Health Habits

Almostr everyone in Scotland finds some way to be unhealthy.

Almost the entire adult population of Scotland (97.5%) are likely to be either cigarette smokers, heavy drinkers, physically inactive, overweight or have a poor diet. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Public Health also found a strong association between the presence of several of these risk factors and low income.

I'm thinking we need some sort of international contest in unhealthy living. Cities could compete for worst lifestyles from the standpoint of best health practices. Who smokes the most? Who drinks the most alcohol? Which people eat the least in vegetables and fruits and the most junk food?

Most Scottish people have poor diets. Two thirds are overweight or obese.

David Conway, from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, worked with a team of researchers to study data from 6574 participants in the Scottish Health Survey 2003. He said, "Our analysis shows that around two-thirds of the Scottish population is overweight or obese, a similar proportion are not sufficiently physically active, and most people have a poor diet – it is just that it is not the same majority for each factor. The most important determinants of multiple risk factors were low educational attainment and residence in our most deprived communities".

The least educated have the worst diets. Not surprising. People with low intelligence aren't smart enough to remember and understand what foods they ought to eat or avoid. Higher intelligence has been found to be positively correlated with life expectancy in all Scottish people born in 1921. Also see Batty, G. D., Deary, I. J., & Gottfredson, L. S. (2007). Pre-morbid (early life) IQ and later mortality risk: Systematic review. Annals of Epidemiology.

55% of the Scots have 3 or more of the 5 risk factors.

The prevalence of multiple behavioural risk factors was high, with 86% having at least two risk factors; 55% having three or more risk factors; and nearly 20% having four or all five risk factors. Furthermore these risk factors are strongly associated with low socio-economic circumstances. The researchers caution that, as the behaviours were self-reported, the real situation may be even worse than these figures suggest. According to Conway, "Respondents might tend to give answers that would convey more favourable behaviours. This was confirmed for alcohol consumption by an analysis comparing self-reported alcohol intake in the Scottish Health Surveys with alcohol sales estimates, which suggested that surveys may understate alcohol consumption by as much as 50%".

The use of heavy equipment and automation to do what were previously jobs performed with lots of human muscle. The success of industrialized countries probably widens the gap between best and worst health practices in a society. The increased availability of highly refined and processed foods poses a bigger health threat to poorer people who aren't smart enough to know to avoid junk foods. We did not evolve for industrial civilization and it is not surprising to me that so many people make bad decisions about what to eat or how to live as the choices they face become increasingly unlike what our distant ancestors had.

By Randall Parker    2010 June 10 10:26 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (27)
2010 May 12 Wednesday
Long Overtime Work Boosts Heart Risk?

Civil servants who work a lot of overtime suffer more heart disease.

Working overtime is bad for the heart according to results from a long-running study following more than 10,000 civil servants in London (UK): the Whitehall II study.

The research, which is published online today (Wednesday 12 May) in the European Heart Journal [1], found that, compared with people who did not work overtime, people who worked three or more hours longer than a normal, seven-hour day had a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems such as death due to heart disease, non-fatal heart attacks and angina.

Dr Marianna Virtanen, an epidemiologist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki (Finland) and University College London (UK), said: "The association between long hours and coronary heart disease was independent of a range of risk factors that we measured at the start of the study, such as smoking, being overweight, or having high cholesterol.

3 to 4 hours of overtime per day are associated with a 60% boost in coronary heart disease risk.

During the average 11.2 years of follow-up, Dr Virtanen and her colleagues in Finland, London and France, found that there had been 369 cases of fatal CHD, non-fatal heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) or angina. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors such as age, sex, marital status and occupational grade, they found that working three to four hours overtime (but not one to two hours) was associated with a 60% higher rate of CHD compared with no overtime work. Further adjustments for a total of 21 risk factors made little difference to these estimates.

Could be that sitting too much is part of the problem with overtime. If you are tied to your desk for long hours you aren't out getting needed exercise.

By Randall Parker    2010 May 12 12:48 AM   Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2010 January 11 Monday
Television Watchers Die Sooner

TV kills.

Study highlights:

  • A study found that every hour spent in front of the television per day brings with it an 11 percent greater risk of premature death from all causes, and an 18 percent greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
  • The findings apply to both obese and overweight people as well as people with a healthy weight because prolonged periods of sitting have an unhealthy influence on blood sugar and blood fat levels.

DALLAS, Jan. 11, 2010 — Couch potatoes beware: every hour of television watched per day may increase the risk of dying earlier from cardiovascular disease, according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Australian researchers tracked the lifestyle habits of 8,800 adults and found that each hour spent in front of the television daily was associated with:
• an 11 percent increased risk of death from all causes,
• a 9 percent increased risk of cancer death; and
• an 18 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related death.

Compared with people who watched less than two hours of television daily, those who watched more than four hours a day had a 46 percent higher risk of death from all causes and an 80 percent increased risk for CVD-related death. This association held regardless of other independent and common cardiovascular disease risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, unhealthy diet, excessive waist circumference, and leisure-time exercises.

Uh oh, sitting in front of computers probably kills too. We weren't designed for the environment we've created for ourselves with technology.

While the study focused specifically on television watching, the findings suggest that any prolonged sedentary behavior, such as sitting at a desk or in front of a computer, may pose a risk to one’s health. The human body was designed to move, not sit for extended periods of time, said David Dunstan, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and professor and Head of the Physical Activity Laboratory in the Division of Metabolism and Obesity at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Victoria, Australia.

By Randall Parker    2010 January 11 11:21 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (12)
2009 May 27 Wednesday
Healthy Lifestyles On Decline In United States

In recent decades scientists have developed much greater understanding of which lifestyle choices promote health. Yet in the face of this growing body of knowledge and efforts to publicize key findings the public at large increasingly adopts less healthy practices.

New York, NY, May 27, 2009 – Despite the well-known benefits of having a lifestyle that includes physical activity, eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, moderate alcohol use and not smoking, only a small proportion of adults follow this healthy lifestyle pattern, and in fact, the numbers are declining, according to an article published in the June 2009 issue of The American Journal of Medicine. Lifestyle choices are associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes.

Investigators from the Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston compared the results of two large-scale studies of the US population in 1988-1994 and in 2001-2006. In the intervening 18 years, the percentage of adults aged 40-74 years with a body mass index greater than 30 has increased from 28% to 36%; physical activity 12 times a month or more has decreased from 53% to 43%; smoking rates have not changed (26.9% to 26.1%); eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables a day has decreased from 42% to 26%; and moderate alcohol use has increased from 40% to 51%. The number of people adhering to all 5 healthy habits has decreased from 15% to 8%.

So much for the power of expert advice. If you follow all the best practices you are part of a dwindling minority.

In the last 5 years have you gotten better or worse at exercising, eating fruits, eating vegetables, getting enough sleep, and other health-promoting practices?

By Randall Parker    2009 May 27 12:10 AM   Entry Permalink | Comments (28)
2009 April 28 Tuesday
Neurotic Men Improve Health Of Women

The guys have got to be both conscientious and neurotic in order to boost the health of their wives. But neurotic women do not improve the health of men.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Conscientiousness is a good thing in a mate, researchers report, not just because it's easier to live with someone who washes the dishes without being asked, but also because having a conscientious partner may actually be good for one's health. Their study, of adults over age 50, also found that women, but not men, get an added health benefit when paired with someone who is conscientious and neurotic.

This is the first large-scale analysis of what the authors call the "compensatory conscientiousness effect," the boost in health reported by those with conscientious spouses or romantic partners. The study appears this month in Psychological Science.

"Highly conscientious people are more organized and responsible and tend to follow through with their obligations, to be more impulse controlled and to follow rules," said University of Illinois psychology professor Brent Roberts, who led the study. Highly neurotic people tend to be more moody and anxious, and to worry, he said.

Researchers have known since the early 1990s that people who are more conscientious tend to live longer than those who are less so. They are more likely to exercise, eat nutritious foods and adhere to vitamin or drug regimens, and are less likely to smoke, abuse drugs or take unwarranted risks, all of which may explain their better health. They also tend to have more stable relationships than people with low conscientiousness.

Since I write posts on health and longevity do I attract neurotic readers? What do you say, are you neurotic?

Why don't neurotic women cause their mates to live longer? Do the guys feel stressed from nagging?

I like to work with driven and conscientious people. You can rely on them to come thru. When offspring genetic engineering becomes possible will people make their kids more conscientious than they are? Will the human race (optimistically assuming the robots don't take over) be much more conscientious a couple hundred years from now?

By Randall Parker    2009 April 28 11:31 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (14)
2009 April 21 Tuesday
Ideal Sleep Range From 7 To 8 Hours Per Night?

Are you getting an ideal amount of sleep to avoid insulin-resistant diabetes?

Quebec City, April 21, 2009—Researchers at Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine have found that people who sleep too much or not enough are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance. The risk is 2½ times higher for people who sleep less than 7 hours or more than 8 hours a night. The findings were published recently on the website of the journal Sleep Medicine.

The researchers arrived at this conclusion after analyzing the life habits of 276 subjects over a 6-year period. They determined that over this timespan, approximately 20% of those with long and short sleep duration developed type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance versus only 7% among subjects who were average duration sleepers. Even after taking into account the effect attributable to differences in body mass among the subjects, the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance was still twice as high among those with longer and shorter sleep duration than average sleepers.

Sleep amount correlates with the incidence of many diseases.

The researchers also point out that diabetes is not the only risk associated with sleep duration. A growing number of studies have shed light on a similar relationship between sleep and obesity, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality. The authors observe that among adults, between 7 and 8 hours of nighttime sleep appears to be the optimum duration to protect against common diseases and premature death.

Modern life is cutting in to the hours people sleep.

However, it seems that fewer and fewer people sleep the optimum number of hours. A survey conducted in 1960 showed that American adults slept an average of 8 to 8.9 hours a night. By 1995, that average had dropped to 7 hours. A study conducted in 2004 by the National Center for Health Statistics found that one-third of adults aged 30 to 64 slept less than 6 hours a night.

Are you getting enough sleep? Anyone get too much? If I was following the lesson of this report I wouldn't be up so late writing blog posts.

By Randall Parker    2009 April 21 11:51 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2009 March 16 Monday
Less Sleep Connected With Impaired Fasting Glucose

Get over 6 hours sleep per night.

PALM HARBOR, Fla., March 11, 2009 — People who sleep less than six hours a night appear to have a higher risk of developing impaired fasting glucose — a condition that can precede type 2 diabetes, researchers reported at the American Heart Association’s 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, appears most often in middle-aged adults. Adolescents and young adults, however, are developing type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate. It develops when the body makes relatively too much insulin and doesn’t efficiently use the insulin it makes (insulin resistance).

Participants who slept on average less than six hours a night during the work week, when followed over six years, were 4.56 times more likely than those getting six to eight hours of sleep to convert from normal blood sugar levels to impaired fasting glucose, researchers said.

This result doesn't prove the direction of causality. After all, a person could have a disorder that decreases their sleep and that disorder might cause impaired glucose tolerance. Or impaired glucose tolerance could reduce the ability to sleep. But not getting enough sleep is certainly a stress on the body and it seems plausible that lack of sleep contributes to the development of insulin resistant diabetes.

The scientists adjusted for a number of other factors.

After adjusting for age, body mass index, glucose and insulin concentrations, heart rate, high blood pressure, family history of diabetes and symptoms of depression, the researchers found a significantly increased risk of developing impaired fasting glucose among short-sleepers compared to the mid-sleepers. Compared to the mid-sleepers, long-sleepers showed no association with impaired fasting glucose, the researchers report.

You can't get around the need for sleep, general good diet (lots of fruits and veggies and less red meat and less refined foods), and exercise. Popping pills or eating specific potent wonder foods won't nullify the negative effects of bad lifestyle choices.

By Randall Parker    2009 March 16 10:48 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2008 January 08 Tuesday
Sun Exposure Causes Net Reduction In Cancer Risk

Scientists at U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and colleagues in Norway have found evidence that the increased risk of melanoma cancer from sun exposure is outweighed by reduced risk of internal cancers as a result of increased vitamin D production.

In the current study, Setlow and his colleagues used a model incorporating information on solar radiation intensity and a vertical cylinder shape to represent the human body's skin surface to calculate the relative production of vitamin D via sunlight as a function of latitude, or distance from the equator. The cylindrical model more realistically represents human body sun exposure than flat surface exposure measurements used in previous models. The scientists also examined the incidence of and survival rates for various forms of cancer by latitude.

According to the calculations, people residing in Australia (just below the equator) produce 3.4 times more vitamin D as a result of sun exposure than people in the United Kingdom, and 4.8 times more than people in Scandinavia.

"There is a clear north-south gradient in vitamin D production," Setlow says, "with people in the northern latitudes producing significantly less than people nearer the equator."

In populations with similar skin types, there is also a clear increase in the incidence of all forms of skin cancer from north to south. "This gradient in skin cancer rates indicates that there is a true north-south gradient in real sun exposure," Setlow says.

The scientists also found that the incidence rates of major internal cancers such as colon cancer, lung cancer, and cancers of the breast and prostate also increased from north to south. However, when the scientists examined the survival rates for these cancers, they found that people from the southern latitudes were significantly less likely to die from these internal cancers than people in the north.

Since melanoma is caused by UVA radiation but vitamin D synthesis is caused by UVB radiation the scientists suggest that sun screens should selectively filter out the UVA in order to give the best of both worlds: no higher melanoma risk combined with lower internal cancer risk.

By Randall Parker    2008 January 08 11:26 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
4 Factors Add 14 Years To Life Expectancy

Want to live longer? Don't smoke. Eat 5 servings of vegetables and fruits daily. Get moderate exercise. Drink between 1 and 14 glasses of wine or half pints of beer per week. A study of over 25,000 people in Norfolk county UK published in Plos Medicine found that people who smoke, do not get enough fruits and vegetables, do not get enough exercise, and do not drink moderately die 14 years sooner on average than people who are the opposite on these lifestyle characteristics.

What Did the Researchers Do and Find?

Between 1993 and 1997, about 20,000 men and women aged 45–79 living in Norfolk UK, none of whom had cancer or cardiovascular disease (heart or circulation problems), completed a health and lifestyle questionnaire, had a health examination, and had their blood vitamin C level measured as part of the EPIC-Norfolk study. A health behavior score of between 0 and 4 was calculated for each participant by giving one point for each of the following healthy behaviors: current non-smoking, not physically inactive (physical inactivity was defined as having a sedentary job and doing no recreational exercise), moderate alcohol intake (1–14 units a week; a unit of alcohol is half a pint of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of spirit), and a blood vitamin C level consistent with a fruit and vegetable intake of at least five servings a day. Deaths among the participants were then recorded until 2006. After allowing for other factors that might have affected their likelihood of dying (for example, age), people with a health behavior score of 0 were four times as likely to have died (in particular, from cardiovascular disease) than those with a score of 4. People with a score of 2 were twice as likely to have died.

What Do These Findings Mean?

These findings indicate that the combination of four simply defined health behaviors predicts a 4-fold difference in the risk of dying over an average period of 11 years for middle-aged and older people. They also show that the risk of death (particularly from cardiovascular disease) decreases as the number of positive health behaviors increase. Finally, they can be used to calculate that a person with a health score of 0 has the same risk of dying as a person with a health score of 4 who is 14 years older.

A Danish study also published today found the same benefits from moderate alcohol and moderate exercise in over 11,000 Danes.

People who drink moderate amounts of alcohol and are physically active have a lower risk of death from heart disease and other causes than people who don’t drink at all, according to new research. People who neither drink alcohol nor exercise have a 30-49 per cent higher risk of heart disease than those who either drink, exercise or both.

The research, which was published in the European Heart Journal [1] today (Wednesday 9 January), is the first to look at the combined influence of leisure-time physical activity and weekly alcohol intake on the risk of fatal ischaemic heart disease (a form of heart disease characterised by a reduced blood supply to the heart) and deaths from all causes.

Between 1981-1983 Danish researchers obtained information on various health-related issues (including exercise and alcohol intake) from 11,914 Danish men and women aged 20 or older, who were taking part in the larger, Copenhagen City Heart Study.

Want to do more? Add some fish for an added health benefit. Eat even more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day and some nuts too. Also, reduce your red meat consumption and lower your dietary glycemic index.

By Randall Parker    2008 January 08 10:55 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2008 January 01 Tuesday
Lack Of Sleep Lowers Insulin Sensitivity

Getting your high quality deep sleep interrupted might put you at greater risk of insulin insensitive type 2 diabetes.

Suppression of slow-wave sleep in healthy young adults significantly decreases their ability to regulate blood-sugar levels and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, report researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center in the “Early Edition” of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, available online as soon as Dec. 31, 2007.

Deep sleep, also called “slow-wave sleep,” is thought to be the most restorative sleep stage, but its significance for physical well-being has not been demonstrated. This study found that after only three nights of selective slow-wave sleep suppression, young healthy subjects became less sensitive to insulin. Although they needed more insulin to dispose of the same amount of glucose, their insulin secretion did not increase to compensate for the reduced sensitivity, resulting in reduced tolerance to glucose and increased risk for type 2 diabetes. The decrease in insulin sensitivity was comparable to that caused by gaining 20 to 30 pounds.

Previous studies have demonstrated that reduced sleep quantity can impair glucose metabolism and appetite regulation resulting in increased risk of obesity and diabetes. This current study provides the first evidence linking poor sleep quality to increased diabetes risk.

"These findings demonstrate a clear role for slow-wave sleep in maintaining normal glucose control," said the study's lead author, Esra Tasali, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center. "A profound decrease in slow-wave sleep had an immediate and significant adverse effect on insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance."

Get your sleep or lose control of your glucose. You have a decision to make. Don't be a chump. Stay in control.

We get less deep sleep as we get older. That decay in sleep quality might contribute to the rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes as we age.

“Since reduced amounts of deep sleep are typical of aging and of common obesity-related sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea these results suggest that strategies to improve sleep quality, as well as quantity, may help to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in populations at risk,” said Eve Van Cauter, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and senior author of the study.

So many processes of aging create a vicious cycle. Your sleep quality deteriorates. Then your glucose levels go to high. That accelerates your aging and that makes your sleep quality even worse. The cycle repeats. We need rejuvenation therapies that will break this vicious cycle. We need to stop the downward spiral.

By Randall Parker    2008 January 01 10:41 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2007 September 24 Monday
Skimping On Sleep Increases Death Risk

Skimping on the sleep might kill you.

Researchers from the University of Warwick, and University College London, have found that lack of sleep can more than double the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. However they have also found that point comes when too much sleep can also more than double the risk of death.

In research to be presented on Monday 24th September 2007, to the British Sleep Society, Professor Francesco Cappuccio from the University of Warwick’s Warwick Medical School  will show the results of a study of how sleep patterns affected the mortality of 10,308  civil servants in the “Whitehall II study”. Amongst other things the data they used provided information on the mortality rates and sleep patterns on the same group of civil servants at two points in their life (1985-8 and those still alive in 1992-3).

The researchers took into account other possible factors such age, sex, marital status, employment grade, smoking status, physical activity, alcohol consumption, self-rated health, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, other physical illness etc. Once they had adjusted for those factors they were able to isolate the effect that changes in sleep patterns over 5 years had on mortality rates 11-17 years later.

Taking those who had not made any change in their sleeping habits between 1985-8 and 1992-3  as their baseline (7 hours per night being the figure normally recommended as an appropriate period of sleep for an adult) they were able to see what difference having reduced the amount of sleep over time  made to mortality rates by 2004.

Those who had cut their sleeping from 7h to 5 hours or less faced a 1.7 fold increased risk in mortality from all causes, and twice the increased risk of death from a cardiovascular problem in particular.

People who sleep less could conceivably have diseases that are disrupting their sleep and eventually killing them. But that seems an unlikely explanation given the stress effects of sleep deprivation. Get enough sleep. It ight save your life.

By Randall Parker    2007 September 24 11:14 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2007 September 09 Sunday
Lack Of Sleep Creates High Blood Pressure Risk For Women

Women especially should try to get enough sleep.

The University of Warwick led research team looked at data from "The Whitehall II Cohort" which studied volunteers from 20 London-based civil service departments. There were a total of 6,592 participants (4,199 men and 1,567 women). The Warwick team defined hypertension as blood pressure equal to or higher than 140/90 mm Hg or if the subject made regular use of antihypertensive medications.

The researchers found that the those women in the study group who slept less than or equal to 5 hours a night were twice as likely to suffer from hypertension than women who slept for the more recommended seven hours or more a night. The researchers found no difference between men sleeping less than 5 hours and those sleeping 7 hours or more.

I wonder if the difference is due a difference in how male and female bodies react to sleep deficits. Or maybe the conditions that cause women to sleep less are different than the conditions that make men sleep less. Maybe stressful environments cause women to miss sleep but for men maybe the sleep is missed due to the desire to do more activities that are less stressful. Mind you, that's pure speculation. More likely female bodies react to lack of sleep in ways that do more damage to blood vessels.

Whether you are a man or women there are plenty of scientific reasons why you should get enough sleep. See my previous posts Less Sleep Increases Obesity, Sleep A Lot To Avoid Burn-Out From Stress And To Stay Skinny, and Lack Of Sleep Suppresses Neurogenesis And Memory Formation. Sleep is good.

By Randall Parker    2007 September 09 04:15 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
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