Tag Archives: biological clock

How Shift Work Disrupts Metabolism

This time it’s personal. A hundred years ago, it seems (actually it was 1977), I worked for Reuters News Service. I had the good fortune, I thought, of being sent to London to experience the international news desk. That turned out to be a wonderful educational as well as professional experience. However, part of my deal was that since I was the Yank who was only there for a year, they used me to fill every staffing vacancy that came up. As a result I often worked two or three different shifts in a week. I have to tell you that I have never felt so discombobulated in my life. I would wake up and not know if it was morning or night. All my body rhythms got fried. So, I really related to the following study.

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Researchers report metabolic disruptions often seen in shift workers are not influenced by the brain’s circadian rhythm, but by peripheral oscillators in the liver, gut and pancreas. Source: Washington State University.

Working night shifts or other nonstandard work schedules increases your risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes and other metabolic disorders, which ultimately also raises your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Exactly why this happens has been unclear, but a new study conducted at Washington State University (WSU) has brought scientists closer to finding the answer. Continue reading

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Filed under brain, brain function, brain health, cancer, prostate cancer, shift work

New study helps to predict human life spans

Some few of us are predisposed to age faster than others according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and  Human Services. They may even die early despite a healthy lifestyle.

Needless to say, these were not welcome words to me. I spend my life eating intelligently and exercising daily to keep my mind and body aging as well as humanly possible. In light of the fact that I am 76  years old and going strong, it seems to be working.

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The international team of scientists analyzed DNA in blood samples from more than 13,000 people in the United States and Europe and used an “epigenetic clock” to predict their life spans.

 

The clock calculates the aging of blood and other tissues by tracking a natural process (methylation) that chemically alters DNA over time, the researchers explained.

“We discovered that five percent of the population ages at a faster biological rate, resulting in a shorter life expectancy,” said principal investigator Steve Horvath. He is a professor of human genetics and biostatistics at the University of California, Los Angeles. (my emphasis)

I took some encouragement from these data. If five percent of the population is aging faster, then 95 percent of the population is aging normally. So it is 19 to one that you are not one of the unlucky ones with these bad genes.

“Accelerated aging increases these adults’ risk of death by 50 percent at any age,” Horvath added in a university news release.

“While a healthful lifestyle may help extend life expectancy, our innate aging process prevents us from cheating death forever,” he said. “Yet risk factors like smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure still predict mortality more strongly than one’s epigenetic aging rate.” (my emphasis. Sounds to me like more good reasons to continue living a healthy lifestyle.)
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Filed under aging, aging brain, biological clock, successful aging

Is It Possible to Reset Our Biological Clocks?

Since humans are fundamentally diurnal creatures, staying awake at night can significantly disrupt all of the body’s internal biological clocks. These disruptions are far from harmless: over the long term, they can lead to a high incidence of various health problems, such as metabolic or cardiovascular problems or even certain types of cancer.

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Imagine being able to easily get over all of the discomfort and problems of jet lag or night-shift work. Science is not quite there, but recent work by Marc Cuesta, Nicolas Cermakian and Diane B. Boivin from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University has opened new therapeutic avenues for improving the synchronization of the body’s different biological clocks.

Physiological changes over the course of a day are regulated by a circadian system comprised of a central clock located deep within the centre of the brain and multiple clocks located in different parts of the body.

This study, which was published in The FASEB Journal (published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology), included 16 healthy volunteers who were studied in temporal isolation chambers. These results show, for the first time, that the peripheral biological clocks located in white blood cells can be synchronized through the…

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