Connect with us

Health

Human biology appears to have two seasons, not four, study says

Published

on

The human body apparently disagrees with Mother Nature on how many seasons there are.

Instead of four seasons, human biology appears to have two, according to a team of Stanford University researchers.

“We’re taught that the four seasons — winter, spring, summer and fall — are broken into roughly equal parts throughout the year, and I thought, ‘Well, who says?’ ” said Michael Snyder, a professor and chair of genetics. “It didn’t seem likely that human biology adheres to those rules.”

So he and his colleagues conducted a study guided by people’s molecular compositions to let the biology reveal how many seasons there are.

They analyzed four years of molecular data from 105 people, aged 25 to 75. About four times a year, participants provided blood samples that were analyzed for molecular information about immunity, inflammation, heart health, metabolism, the microbiome and more. Participants’ diet and exercise habits were also tracked.

Overall, the study found that more than 1,000 molecules ebb and flow during the year, especially during late spring-early summer and late fall-early winter.

For example, late spring coincided with a rise in inflammatory biomarkers known to play a role in allergies, a spike in molecules involved in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, a peak in HbAc1, a protein that signals risk for type 2 diabetes, and the highest annual levels of the gene PER1, an important regulator of the sleep-wake cycle.

In early winter, there were increases in immune molecules that help fight viral infections molecules involved in acne development and markers of high blood pressure.

The researchers also found differences between people who were insulin-resistant — their bodies don’t process glucose normally — and those who weren’t.

Insulin-resistant people had higher levels of Veillonella, a type of bacteria involved in lactic acid fermentation and the processing of glucose, throughout the year, except during mid-March through late June, according to findings published this month in the journal Nature Communications.

Snyder noted that the study involved people in California, and it’s likely that the molecular patterns of people in other regions would differ.

Understanding such seasonal changes in human biology could help guide health care and the design of clinical drug trials, he suggested.

More information

NASA has more on Earth’s seasons.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Health

Limiting TV ads for foods high in sugar, salt, fat may reduce child obesity

Published

on

Limiting TV ads for sugary, salty and high-fat foods and drinks might help reduce childhood obesity, British researchers suggest.

They looked at advertising of these products between 5:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. If all such ads were withdrawn during those hours, the number of obese kids in Britain between the ages of 5 and 17 would drop by 5% and the number of overweight kids would fall 4%, the study found.

That’s equivalent to 40,000 fewer kids in Britain who would be obese and 120,000 fewer who would be overweight, the researchers said.

The findings were published online this week in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Oliver Mytton, an academic clinical lecturer at the Center for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge, led the study.

“Measures which have the potential to reduce exposure to less-healthy food advertising on television could make a meaningful contribution to reducing childhood obesity,” the authors said in a journal news release.

But they also pointed out that they could not fully account for all factors that would affect the impact of the policy, if implemented.

They added: “Children now consume media from a range of sources, and increasingly from online and on-demand services, so in order to give all children the opportunity to grow up healthy it is important to ensure that this advertising doesn’t just move to the 9-10 pm slot and to online services.”

More information

For more on childhood obesity, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

Blood type may predict risk for severe COVID-19, studies say

Published

on

There’s more evidence that blood type may affect a person’s risk for COVID-19 and severe illness from the disease.

The findings are reported in a pair of studies published Oct. 14 in the journal Blood Advances.

In one, researchers compared more than 473,000 people in Denmark with COVID-19 to more than 2.2 million people in the general population.

Among the COVID-19 patients, there was a lower percentage of people with blood type O and higher percentages of those with with types A, B and AB.

The findings suggest that people with A, B or AB blood may be more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than people with type O blood. Infection rates were similar among people with types A, B and AB blood.

The other study included 95 critically ill COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Canada. Patients with type A or AB blood were more likely to require mechanical ventilation, suggesting that they had greater rates of lung injury from COVID-19.

More patients with type A and AB blood required dialysis for kidney failure, the study added.

The results suggest that COVID-19 patients with A and AB blood types may have an increased risk of organ dysfunction or failure than those with type O or B blood, according to the researchers.

They also found that while people with blood types A and AB didn’t have longer overall hospital stays than those with types O or B, on average, they were in intensive care longer, which may indicate more severe COVID-19.

“The unique part of our study is our focus on the severity effect of blood type on COVID-19. We observed this lung and kidney damage, and in future studies, we will want to tease out the effect of blood group and COVID-19 on other vital organs,” said study author Dr. Mypinder Sekhon, a clinical instructor in the Division of Critical Care Medicine at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

“Of particular importance as we continue to traverse the pandemic, we now have a wide range of survivors who are exiting the acute part of COVID-19, but we need to explore mechanisms by which to risk stratify those with longer-term effects,” he added in a news release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

Personality traits govern success of workplace wellness programs, study finds

Published

on

Oct. 14 (UPI) — The personality traits of individual employees play a strong role in determining the success of workplace wellness programs designed to boost physical activity, a study published Wednesday by the journal PLOS ONE found.

Those identified as extroverted and motivated significantly improved their daily step counts by an average of 945 steps after participating in a competitive gamification program — which uses elements of game playing to encourage engagement — but did not sustain these gains over a 12-week period, the data showed.

Conversely, gamification programs generated 1,100- to 1,200-step improvements in introverted and less motivated study participants that they sustained over the 12 weeks they were monitored, the researchers said.

“This suggests that ongoing incentives and reminders may be necessary to sustain motivation for some groups of people,” study co-author Dr. Shirley Chen, an assistant professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Health System, said in a statement.

Workplace wellness programs have become increasingly popular as employers seek to improve staff health and well-being. However, recent studies have suggested that they offer limited benefits.

The study by Chen and her colleagues is a follow-up to the 2019 analysis of the STEP UP program, which aimed to increase the step counts of roughly 600 Deloitte professionals classified as being either obese or overweight over a period of six months.

In the STEP UP program, personalized daily step counts were established for each participant, but they were then randomly funneled into four different groups: one that just gave the participants their goals and a step tracker, and three others that mixed in different forms of nudges that were “gamified” using a point system, the researchers said.

For the new analysis, they divided participants into different classifications of certain psychological and behavioral characteristics that the researchers called “phenotypes.”

Study participants completed surveys to help researchers identify personality types and social support needs, according to Chen.

The phenotypes that emerged were “more extroverted and more motivated,” which made up 54% of study participants and “less active and less social,” which was 20%, the researchers said. The remaining participants — 25% — were classified as “less motivated and at-risk.”

The participants then were assigned to one of three gamification programs — supportive, collaborative or competitive.

In the supportive program, participants were asked to identify a friend or family member who encouraged them and received weekly reports on their progress.

Participants in the collaborative program were placed into teams of three and a designated member was selected each day to represent them in their step activity.

Participants in the competitive program were assigned into teams of three and received a weekly “leader-board” email to foster competition.

Although more extroverted and motivated participants in the competitive program saw an uptick in step counts, these same gains were not seen among those in the collaborative or supportive programs, the researchers said.

In addition, gains were not sustained over 12 weeks of follow-up, they said.

However, participants classified as “less active and less social” saw step count improvements ranging from 1,000 to 1,200 in all three programs — and these increases were maintained over the 12-week follow-up period, according to the researchers.

Conversely, those in the “less motivated and at-risk” group had no improvement during the study, the researchers said.

“A one-size-fits-all approach to nudging new behaviors within wellness programs can have limited success,” study co-author Dr. Mitesh Patel, director of the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit, said in a statement.

“We’ve shown that different forms of nudging can be effective, and in this latest study … we’ve now demonstrated that matching nudges to the right behavior profiles can unlock their full potential,” Patel said.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending