Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 29 January 2016

Sleep deprivation could lead to diabetes -

Sleep deprivation could lead to diabetes - 

Our sleep deprived lives could lead to a rise in getting diabetes, according to a new study. 

The study, published in Diabetes Care and conducted by the University of Chicago, found that not sleeping well can increase your risk of developing diabetes, particularly affecting people who work long hours.

People who are tired will eat more because they want to get energy from somewhere. "This could mean consuming sugar or other foods that can spike blood sugar levels,“ Dr Maarouf, the diabetes education director of the Stark Diabetes Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, told WebMD. 

She explains: “I really push people to eat properly throughout the day and get their blood sugars under control so they sleep better at night. If you get your blood sugar under control, you will get a good night sleep and wake up feeling fabulous with lots of energy.”

Author of the study, Dr Josiane Broussard, an assistant research professor at the department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, said:  "In this short-term study, we found that two long nights spent catching up on lost sleep can reverse the negative metabolic effects of four consecutive nights of restricted sleep."

Diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin. A lack of sleep can lead to insulin resistance, which means your body finds it harder to break down sugars. As well as leading to weight gain, when you’re tired, there’s insulin resistance, which means the body can’t break glucose down into energy. If you’re tired and insulin can’t do its job properly, then sugar levels can build to such a point that the insulin could harm the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart. 

However, the study is encouraging, says Dr Broussard: "It shows that young, healthy people who sporadically fail to get sufficient sleep during the work week can reduce their diabetes risk if they catch up on sleep during the weekend."

The University of Chicago study recommends sleeping two nights of extended sleep, or more than 8.5 hours to lower the risk of diabetes. 


Dogs may have evolved to handle our bad tempers - they limit their eye contact with angry humans -

Dogs may have evolved to handle our bad tempers - they limit their eye contact with angry humans - 

Man’s best friend has a clear strategy for dealing with angry owners — look away.

New research shows that dogs limit their eye contact with angry humans, even as they tend to stare down upset canines. The scientists suggest this may be an attempt to appease humans, that evolved as dogs were domesticated and benefited from avoiding conflicts with humans.

To conduct the tests the University of Helsinki researchers trained 31 dogs to rest in front of a video screen. Facial photos — showing threatening, pleasant and neutral expressions — were displayed on the screen for 1.5 seconds. Nearby cameras tracked the dogs’ eye movements.

Dogs in the study looked most at the eyes of humans and other dogs to sense their emotions. When dogs looked at expressions of angry canines, they lingered more on the mouth, perhaps to interpret the threatening expressions. And when looking at angry humans they tended to avert their gaze. Dogs may have learned to detect threat signs from humans and respond in an appeasing manner, according to researcher Sanni Somppi. Avoiding conflicts may have helped dogs — which are the most popular pet in the United States — develop better bonds with humans.

The researchers also note that dogs scan faces holistically to sense how people are feeling, instead of focusing on a given feature. They suggest this indicates that dogs aren’t sensing emotions from a single feature, but piecing together information from all facial features just as humans do.


6 Cities in Michigan have EVEN HIGHER LEVELS OF LEAD than Flint -

6 Cities in Michigan have EVEN HIGHER LEVELS OF LEAD than Flint - 

As the nation rightly focuses on Flint’s ongoing water crisis, other cities in the state of Michigan face even higher levels of lead contamination. The alarming pervasiveness of potentially toxic drinking water extends across the United States.

The Detroit News reports that “Elevated blood-lead levels are seen in a higher percentage of children in parts of Grand Rapids, Jackson, Detroit, Saginaw, Muskegon, Holland and several other cities, proof that the scourge of lead has not been eradicated despite decades of public health campaigns and hundreds of millions of dollars spent to find and eliminate it.”

Of over 7,000 children tested in the Highland Park and Hamtramck areas of Detroit in 2014, 13.5 percent tested positive for lead. Among four zip codes in Grand Rapids, one in ten children had lead in their blood. In Adrian and south-central Michigan, more than 12 percent of 640 children tested had positive results.

These overall numbers are higher than Flint’s, where Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha found lead in up to 6.3 percent of children in the highest-risk areas;while The Guardian reported Dr. Hanna-Attisha has also said the rate is as high at 15 percent in certain “hot spots,” the size of those samples was not listed. Even so, the overall figures across Michigan are lower than in previous years. In 2012, children tested across Michigan had lead in their blood at a rate of 4.5 percent, about five times less than the rate ten years prior, which reached an alarming 25 percent. In spite of the decrease in recent years, however, thousands of children in Michigan are still affected.

“In 2013, that level sank to 3.9 percent and fell again to 3.5 percent in 2014. But that is still 5,053 children under age 6 who tested positive in 2014,” theDetroit News explained. “Each had lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter. (Though no amount is considered safe, 5 micrograms is the threshold that experts say constitutes a ‘much higher’ level than most children.)” One Detroit zip code had a rate of 20.8 percent of children who tested positive in 2014, and 20.3 percent the following year.

The outrage in Flint is especially warranted because of the pronounced effects of lead on children. Lead, a known toxin, is associated with bothphysical and mental ailments, and according to one Detroit teacher, has harmed the cognitive abilities of students.

Kieya Morrison, a veteran kindergarten teacher, who now teaches preschool, described a recent student known to have elevated levels of blood in her system. The girl experienced difficulties grasping simple cognitive tasks, like differentiating between a triangle and a square. “She had cognitive problems. She had trouble processing things,” Morrison said. “She could not retain any of the information.” The University of Michigan recently found a link between lead in children and lower academic test scores.

Michigan’s lead problem “…is still an issue. It’s not going away,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In fact, lead levels are elevated across the United States. Anti-Media reported this week on Sebring, Ohio, where a similar lead crisis spawned official cover-ups. For years, discoveries of lead in public water supplies have made headlines, even if these finding were not national news. In 2008, the Los Angeles school district’s water supply was found to have levels of lead hundreds of times higher than the allowable. In 2015, officials could not guarantee they had adequately purified the water. In another example, in 2010, New York City tested 222 older homes known to have lead pipes, and found 14 percent had lead levels higher than the allowable limit.

Vox noted that in 2014, “Nine counties nationwide told the CDC that 10 percent or more of their lead poisoning tests came back positive. Four of them are in Louisiana, two in Alabama, and the rest scattered across West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Oklahoma.”

The problem extends beyond anecdotal cases or any specific region. As Huffington Post reports, millions of lead pipes — like the ones that contaminated the water in Flint — are still in service across the United States:

“There are roughly 7.3 million lead service lines in the U.S., according to an estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency, down from 10.5 million in 1988. Service lines are the pipes connecting water mains to people’s houses. They’re mostly found in the Midwest and Northeast.”

Jerry Paulson, emeritus professor of pediatrics and environmental health at George Washington University, told the Detroit News how common the problem is:

“This is a situation that has the potential to occur in however many places around the country there are lead pipes,“ he explained. “Unless and until those pipes are removed, those communities are at some degree of risk.”

Paul Haan of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, an organization that works to eliminate household hazards to improve children’s health, warns that the levels of lead in Michigan children’s blood continue to rise, citing weekly statewide reports from pediatricians. In spite of his efforts to help reduce contaminants, he pointed out a dismal flaw in the process:

“The problem is,” he said, “we’re still using kids as lead detectors.”


Too much exercise makes harder to lose weight - burning up calories backfires as body adapts to higher activity levels -

Too much exercise makes harder to lose weight - burning up calories backfires as body adapts to higher activity levels - 

Gym bunnies who spend hours working out in an attempt to shed unwanted flab are wasting their time, research suggests.
The body adapts to higher activity levels - changing metabolism so that fewer calories are burned, the US study indicates.
Researchers measured the daily energy expenditure and activity levels of more than 300 men and women.
Those with moderately active levels – such as a daily walk to work, and a trip to the gym twice a week – were found to burn about 200 calories more per day than those living couch potato lifestyles.

But after a certain threshold – described by scientists as a “sweet spot” – the extra time working up a sweat made no difference to the amount of calories burned.
Experts said it might explain by those who embark on gym routines in a bid to weight loss often see weight loss hit a plateau after a few months.
"The most physically active people expended the same amount of calories each day as people who were only moderately active"
Dr Herman Pontzer, City University of New York
Lead scientist Dr Herman Pontzer, from the City University of New York, said the findings showed that exercise alone was not enough to prevent or reverse weight gain.
He said he decided to explore the link between activity and energy expenditure after working among a community of traditional hunter-gatherers in northern Tanzania.
He said: "The Hadza are incredibly active, walking long distances each day and doing a lot of hard physical work as part of their everyday life.
"Despite these high activity levels, we found that they had similar daily energy expenditures to people living more sedentary, modernised lifestyles in the United States and Europe. That was a real surprise."
The study measured the activity and food consumption of more than 300 men and women over a week.

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