Study finds lack of rest can cause junk food crav­ings

Chicago Sun-Times - - CITY BEAT -

Get­ting too lit­tle sleep has been linked to bad food choices and overeat­ing. Now, sci­en­tists say they think they have a bet­ter idea of why.

A lack of sleep boosts chem­i­cal sig­nals in the body that give us the munchies and make us take greater plea­sure in eat­ing— es­pe­cially things like sweets and salty, high-fat snacks.

That’s ac­cord­ing to a Univer­sity of Chicago study pub­lished last week in the jour­nal SLEEP that says it’s a sim­i­lar ef­fect to what hap­pens when peo­ple use mar­i­juana.

“Sleep re­stric­tion seems to aug­ment the en­do­cannabi­noid sys­tem — the same sys­tem tar­geted by the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent of mar­i­juana — to en­hance the de­sire for food in­take,” says Erin Han­lon, a U. of C. re­search as­so­ciate in en­docrinol­ogy, di­a­betes and me­tab­o­lism.

The study was the first to mea­sure blood lev­els of the chem­i­cal sig­nal en­do­cannabi­noid 2-arachi-donoyl­glyc­erol, known as 2-AG, which usu­ally slowly rise un­til hit­ting a peak at early af­ter­noon, af­ter lunchtime, then drop­ping.

Af­ter be­ing al­lowed no more than four and a half hours in bed, the study par­tic­i­pants’ lev­els of the chem­i­cal started the day higher and re­mained higher than nor­mal un­til around 9 p.m., and they wanted to eat­more.

Even af­ter hav­ing a meal just two hours ear­lier that pro­vided al­most all the calo­ries they need in an en­tire day, the 14 sleep-de­prived vol­un­teers in the study couldn’t say no to “highly palat­able, re­ward­ing snacks” like cook­ies, candy and chips, the re­searchers found. Com­pared to when they got eight hours of sleep, the vol­un­teers, all in their 20s, con­sumed 50 per­cent more calo­ries and nearly twice as much fat when they were re­stricted to about half as much sleep. Though the study was small and short-term, Han­lon says that, along with other ev­i­dence, the take­away is this:

“If you have a Snick­ers bar, and you’ve had enough sleep, you can con­trol your nat­u­ral re­sponse. But if you’re sleep-de­prived . . . your abil­ity to re­sist them may be im­paired. So you are more likely to eat it. Do that again and again, and you pack on the pounds.”

Find­ing might lead to bet­ter treat­ment for heart fail­ure

Re­searchers say they’ve found the pro­tein that’s key to how the heart pumps blood— a find­ing they say could one day re­sult in new drugs be­ing used to treat heart fail­ure.

With heart fail­ure, the heart is too weak to pump out as much blood as flows into it, so it adds mus­cle mass and beats faster to try to com­pen­sate. But that works for only a lim­ited time out. Pa­tients end up be­ing tired, weak and short of breath and de­velop swelling.

When peo­ple get older, the key mus­cle pro­tein— which, in the heart, helps con­trol con­tract­ing and re­lax­ing — gets short. With heart fail­ure, it gets longer— and less ef­fec­tive, ac­cord­ing to Pi­eter de Tombe of Loyola Univer­sity Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and other re­searchers at Loyola, the Illinois In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin.

De Tombe said the find­ings, pub­lished in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences, “could point the way to new med­i­ca­tions to more ef­fec­tively treat heart fail­ure.”

‘Bi­o­log­i­cal’ age af­fects chances of can­cer, death

The big­ger the dif­fer­ence be­tween your bi­o­log­i­cal age and your ac­tual age, the greater the odds are that you’ll die of can­cer, ac­cord­ing to a new North­west­ern Univer­sity study.

“Peo­ple who are healthy have a very small dif­fer­ence be­tween their bi­o­log­i­cal age and chrono­log­i­cal age,” says Dr. Li­fang Hou, chief of can­cer epi­demi­ol­ogy and preven­tion at North­west­ern’s Fein­berg School of Medicine, who led the study. “Peo­ple who de­velop can­cer have a large dif­fer­ence— and peo­ple who die from can­cer have a dif­fer­ence even larger than that. Our ev­i­dence showed a clear trend.

“This could be­come a new ear­lywarn­ing sign of can­cer,” says Hou, who says the dif­fer­ence be­tween bi­o­log­i­cal and chrono­log­i­cal age “could be used to de­velop an ear­ly­de­tec­tion blood test for can­cer.”

The find­ings were based on blood sam­ples col­lected from 442 peo­ple over a 14-year pe­riod. Pub­lished in the jour­nal EBioMedicine, the study is the first make the link with can­cer and death from can­cer.

The study found that peo­ple who’ll de­velop can­cer are about six months older based on their bi­o­log­i­cal age than their chrono­log­i­cal age— and that peo­ple who’ll die of can­cer are about 2.2 years older.

Bi­o­log­i­cal— or epi­ge­netic — age can be af­fected by diet, ex­er­cise, obe­sity and ex­po­sure to chem­i­cals in the en­vi­ron­ment.

Now, the sci­en­tists are try­ing to de­ter­mine whether ex­er­cis­ing more and eat­ing healthy can lower a per­son’s bi­o­log­i­cal age.

Sun-Times Staff Re­ports

Pi­eter de Tombe, Loy­ola Univer­sity

ErinHan­lon, U. ofC.

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