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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Science Scene

Insomnia may affecthunger hormones

UCLA researchers have uncovered that one of the two hormones that is primarily responsible for telling the body when it is hungry or when it is full is disrupted by chronic insomnia.

This is the first study looking into the elevated nocturnal levels of the two hormones – ghrelin and leptin – in patients diagnosed with primary insomnia. Ghrelin is a peptide secreted by the stomach that stimulates appetite. Secretion is increased before meals. Leptin, mainly secreted by the fat cells, affects a person’s weight by signaling the hypothalamus about the amount of the body’s fat storage. Decreased leptin indicates a fat shortage, promoting hunger; increasing levels promote the body to burn calories.

In the study, published in the May issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology, researchers measured the levels of the two hormones at various times during the night in healthy sleepers, and compared it with those with chronic insomnia.

The researchers discovered that while leptin levels were about the same between the two groups, ghrelin levels were 30 percent lower in those suffering from insomnia.

Although lower levels of ghrelin inhibit weight gain, lead researcher, Sarosh Motivala, compared the findings with other sleep deprivation studies and speculates that a switch may occur during the day. Typically, sleep loss leads to increased ghrelin levels and decreased leptin; such a combination stimulates appetite. Motivala is currently examining this switch in a new study.

Motivala said that the study showed a dysregulation in energy balance, which could explain why insomnia patients gain weight over time. He said he believes this find highlights the connections between diverse behavior such as eating and sleeping.

(Source: UC Newsroom)


FDA: Avoid pistachios

The Food and Drug Administration is recommending that consumption of pistachios should be avoided in light of another salmonella scare.

The FDA and the California Department of Health are looking into the possible contamination of pistachios processed by Setton Pistachio in Terra Bella, Calif. Setton is voluntarily recalling over 1 million pounds of the nuts, and has stopped distributing them for further sale.

The FDA says no illnesses have yet been reported from this case; the salmonella strains were found last week during a routine test by Kraft Foods, and unlike the peanut butter outbreak, the recall is aproactivemeasure. The FDA is currently setting up a website to aid and update consumers on the issue.

(Source: CNN.com)


U.S., Canada want increased regulation on ship emissions

Oceangoing ships coming into coastal regions of the United States and Canada may face stricter controls on emissions of sulfur, particulate matter such as soot and other pollutants that can harm human health.

The two countries have asked the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency that regulates international shipping, to designate a 200-mile buffer zone in which ships would have to make drastic cuts in their emissions. For example, ships would have to cut sulfur emissions by 98 percent by 2015, either by burning a cleaner fuel or byscrubbingexhaust gas to remove sulfur.

The agency expects that there are currently about 40 outgoing vessels docked in the American metropolitan areas that do not meet federal air quality standards.

Approval from the agency is expected next year; if approved, limits on emissions are could go into effect as early as 2012.

(Source: nytimes.com)


Online tool could predict risk of type II diabetes

British scientists have developed an online calculator for predicting the risk of developing adult-onset (type II) diabetes. After examining the medical records of people for over 15 years, excluding people already diagnosed with diabetes or those with incomplete records, researchers found nine significant risk factors for the condition.

Risk factors include age, ethnicity, body mass index, smoking, socioeconomic level, family history of diabetes, diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and the use of steroid drugs.

The researchers then calculated the relative importance of such factors and incorporated them into an algorithm that could accurately predict the 10-year risk for type II diabetes.

The study was published online in BMJ on Mar. 17; an interactive version of the algorithm is available at qdscore.org. Although two features – ethnicity and postal code – are exclusive to Britain, lead researcher Dr. Julia Hippisley-Cox said not specifying those two factors will still give you fairly accurate results.

For those found to be high at risk, weight loss and exercise are essential for prevention, Hippisley-Cox said.

(Source: nytimes.com)


SCIENCE SCENE was compiled by ANNA OPALKA, who can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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