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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Science Scene

Hormones related to diabetes may also be related to fertility

The hormones leptin and insulin appear to work together to not only regulate blood sugar levels but also, surprisingly to researchers, regulate female fertility, a new study in the journal Cell Metabolism suggests.

Further, diabetes and obesity may not always be connected, researchers say.

“Many people, and even many physicians, think you develop diabetes that is solely secondary to obesity,” the study’s senior author, Dr. Joel Elmquist with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said in a news release.

“Our findings indicate that is not necessarily the case, at least in mice. We can make the animals very diabetic without obesity, suggesting that there may be a circuit or path of resistance to these signals in the brain that helps explain the powerful anti-diabetic actions of leptin.”

The findings imply that certain brain cells play a large role in prompting weight loss by controlling appetite. They also showed that female mice with the most brain cells that couldn’t process the hormones had the most trouble breeding.

Source: HealthDay

Common antifungal treatment may fight cancer

An inexpensive antifungal drug slowed tumor growth in mice, potentially making it a cheap and easy way to help in the fight against cancer, researchers say.

The drug, itraconazole, did not wipe out tumors entirely, but it may enhance the effects of other drugs, the scientists reported in the journal Cancer Cell.

Researchers at Stanford University identified a pathway involved in the development of cancer, then experimented with drugs that interfere with it.

“There is a fairly broad range of tumors in which this molecular cascade, called the Hedgehog pathway, plays an important role,” said Stanford’s Philip Beachy in a statement.

Researchers tested mice with an oral solution of itraconazole, which slowed the growth of tumors injected under the skin. Untreated mice grew giant tumors during the same time.

Accordingly, the drug should be tested in cancer patients, the researchers said.

“It’s possible that there is a population of patients that can be treated relatively soon,” Beachy said.

Source: Reuters Science

Inadequate sleep increases food consumption

The difference between four hours of sleep and eight hours of sleep may be about a Big Mac’s-worth of calories – or 560, according to scientists.

“Sleep restriction could be one of the environmental factors that contribute to the obesity epidemic,” said Dr. Laurent Brondel of the European Center for Taste Sciences in Dijon, France in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Previous studies have seen a correlation between sleep duration and higher weight to height ratios among study subjects, but none had explored the effects of less sleep on normal-weight individuals’ eating habits.

After a night of reduced sleep, subjects consumed 22 percent more calories, on average, than when they were allowed to sleep for eight hours, the study found.

“It is time to understand that sleep is not just losing time, besides the recovery processes that occur, there are many other functions – energy conservation, memory and so on – which are going on,” the study said.

Source: Reuters Health

Compiled by David Lavine

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