Virus may cause people to gain weight
A virus may actually contribute to weight gain and obesity, according to a growing body of research.
When the virus, known as adenovirus 36, infects a person, it works by changing his or her metabolic rate, said Richard L. Atkinson, head of the Obetech Obesity Research Center in Richmond, Virginia. The virus causes fat tissue cells to make more fat cells, which, in turn, store more fat. The active virus stays in the body for about one month, but it can take one or two years before it leads to obesity, researchers said.
Recent studies have found the link between adenovirus 36 and weight and fat gain to be consistent in humans, mice, rats and monkeys. In one study conducted in 2012 by researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, evidence showed that out of 1,400 people, those who were infected by adenovirus 36 gained significantly more body fat over a 10-year period than did those who were not infected.
While the virus does disappear from the body realitively quickly, the link to obesity is another reason that people should take extra precautions, such as washing their hands frequently and avoiding touching the mouth or nose with unclean hands in order to avoid becoming infected. Researchers said they plan on working on a vaccine against the virus.
Breast cancer drug halves cases in high-risk women
A drug commonly used to stop the body’s production of estrogen may reduce breast cancer risk in women by more than 50 percent, according to a new study funded by Cancer Research UK.
Researchers recruited almost 4,000 women between ages 40 and 70 who were all considered at high risk of breast cancer. Half of the participants were given the drug—anastrozole—on a daily basis, while the other half was given a placebo. In order to achieve accurate results, neither the participants nor the researchers were allowed to know who was given the placebo versus the drug.
About five years later, the researchers followed up with the participants to find out which group of participants developed breast cancer. The researchers found that in the group given the drug anastrozole, 2 percent of the study participants developed breast cancer; in the group given the placebo, 4 percent developed breast cancer.
The findings, published in The Lancet, suggest that anastrozole prescriptions may be an effective preventive measure against breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Researchers said that women with high risk factors, including family history or having certain types of benign breast disease, may especially benefit from taking anastrozole.
Young women need more encouragement to eat healthy
Efforts to help prevent the onset of chronic illnesses in young women are not as effective as health advocates had hoped they’d be, according to new research.
Evidence has shown that young women—especially those who plan on having children—need to adopt healthy eating habits early on in order to prevent themselves and their children from developing chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.
The researchers, from the University of Southhampton in the U.K., concluded that simply encouraging young woman to eat better diets was not all that effective, and they also doubted the value of such approaches as taxes on products such as soda. Instead, they contended that a better tactic would be to empower women to make their own decisions about their eating habits by increasing access to fruits and vegetables, advertising healthy eating media campaigns and facilitating their abilities to cook healthy meals.
The study’s findings, published in the journal Nature, suggest that a lot of industrialized countries need to revamp their current strategies when it comes to encouraging young women to eat healthy.
Brain stimulation could enhance self-control
A person’s lack of self-control may be improved by being treated with electrical brain stimulation, according to new research.
In a double-blind study, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the University of California, San Diego analyzed the effects of electrical brain stimulation on four participants with epilepsy—a condition marked by seizures caused by erratic surges of electrical activity in the brain.
The findings, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, showed that electrical stimulation enhanced the participants’ slowing of behavioral activity, which led to improved self-control. Because the results only held true when electrical stimulation occurred in the prefrontal cortex, it is unknown whether the treatment could be successful in other brain regions.
This study alone does not provide sufficient evidence that electrical brain stimulation is an effective treatment for self-control. However, researchers said additional studies into electrical brain stimulation may one day be beneficial for people with self-control disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and borderline personality disorder.
Sleep deprivation linked to diabetes
People who are sleep deprived may have a higher risk for diabetes than those who get the recommended amount of sleep, according to new research.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perlman School of Medicine examined the molecular pathways through which sleep deprivation affected blood sugar levels in mice. Researchers specifically look at the effect of lack of sleep on cells in the pancreas, which helps maintain blood sugar levels.
The findings, published in Aging Cell, showed that sleep deprivation resulted in symptoms of pre-diabetes, including a loss of control of blood sugar. Researchers also found younger mice had better control of their blood sugar levels than did the older mice, which they said suggested that older mice were more susceptible to developing diabetes.
The study concludes that the combination of aging and sleep deprivation may increase susceptibility to developing diabetes by increasing cell stress and disrupting blood sugar levels. Researchers said their findings reinforce the importance of maintaining regular sleep patterns.