Waking early on weekdays and sleeping in on weekends appears to increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. American researchers asked 450 people to wear wristbands that recorded their sleep habits for a week. Those with the largest differences in their sleep schedules tended to have the worst cholesterol, insulin, waist size and body mass index. This fits with previous research linking obesity and impaired cardiovascular function with what scientists are calling “social jetlag.”
A recent study published in the journal, Pediatrics, measured brain activity in preschoolers as they listened to stories and found that the part of the brain that integrates sound and sight was activated during reading. The more they were read to, and the more books in their home, the greater their brain activation while listening to a story. Researchers say watching a video short-circuits this process, reducing the imagination needed to create visual imagery.
Research continues to show a relationship between vitamin D levels and the risk of cancer. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of prostate, lung and breast cancers. Researchers in America found that those with a level higher than 40 ng/ml had a 67 per cent less cancer risk than those with a level less than 20 ng/ml.
Genetic variations in the enzyme ALDH may be one reason that pesticide exposure is linked to Parkinson’s disease. Californian researchers found that 11 of 26 pesticides they studied inhibited ALDH and that exposure to the same pesticides was associated with a two- to six-fold higher risk of Parkinson’s disease than non-exposure. The risk was increased even further for people carrying a genetic variant of ALDH.
Brain MRIs were performed on 106 boys who sought treatment for obsessive video gaming in South Korea. The scans were compared to MRIs of 80 boys without the disorder. The video gamers’ brains showed greater connectivity between several pairs of brain networks that could improve attention and help with recognising new information in the environment. However, these same aberrations are seen with schizophrenia, autism, poor impulse control and greater distractibility.