Study: Chronic insomnia raises threat to heart
Can't get to sleep or stay asleep? You might need to pay more attention to your heart health. That's the word from Norwegian researchers who had more than 52,610 men and women fill out health questionnaires, and then followed the subjects for more than 11 years. After adjusting for numerous health and lifestyle factors, they found that those who had trouble falling asleep had a 45 percent increased relative risk of heart attack, compared to those who slept well. People with problems staying asleep had a 30 percent increased risk, and those who woke up tired a 27 percent increase. The results were similar even among those who were free of all chronic disorders at the start of the study. The report was published online in the journal Circulation.
Exercise could beat 'obesity gene'
Having a so-called obesity gene doesn't necessarily doom you to being fat, a study finds — if you stay active. A meta-analysis that included 45 studies of 218,166 adults looked at the effect physical activity had on being saddled with a gene associated with fat mass and obesity, otherwise known as the FTO gene or obesity gene. Being physically active had an effect on the FTO gene, reducing obesity risk by an average of 27 percent compared with people who were sedentary. People were deemed inactive if they had a sedentary job and did less than one hour of moderate to vigorous activity per week, or their level of physical activity was in the lowest 20 percent among that group of study participants. The study appears in the journal PLoS Medicine. Researchers wrote that not only do the results show that physical activity is "a particularly effective way of controlling body weight in individuals with a genetic predisposition towards obesity," it also goes against the belief that genetics are unchangeable.
Women at greater risk in car crashes
Female drivers are much more likely than male drivers to be seriously injured in a crash, because protection devices are designed for men's larger bodies, according to a new report. Researchers at the University of Virginia reviewed information on 45,445 crash victims gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over 11 years. Their study was published in the American Journal of Public Health. After controlling for factors such as the women's height, weight and the type of vehicles they drove, researchers found that women were 47 percent more likely to suffer severe injuries. Differences in neck strength and musculature, the positioning of head restraints, and their shorter stature and preferred seating posture all contributed to the higher rate, they found.
Tobacco as a gateway drug
Researchers long have known that most illicit drug users started with tobacco or alcohol. Now a study in mice, by researchers at Columbia University and published in Science Translational Medicine, makes a biological case for tobacco as a gateway drug. Mice given nicotine-spiked drinking water for at least seven days showed an increased behavioral response to cocaine, a result of a previously unrecognized effect of nicotine on a gene that has been related to addiction.