All-nighters result in chronic illnesses

Research conducted at the University of Washington confirms that sleep deprivation is detrimental to human health. Sleep-deprived people tended to show abnormal insulin levels, increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Learning, especially information retention, is also enhanced by regular circadian rhythms — the 24-hour physiological processes that the human body undergoes. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has found that unbalanced circadian rhythms may also be responsible for the onset of bipolar disorder.

Changes in sleep also affect mood. The Douglas Mental Health Institute in Montreal found that those who worked nocturnal shifts had lower amounts of the chemical serotonin, an abnormality found in those who suffer from depression disorders.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Gates funds TB research

The University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research received an $11.4 million grant from the Gates Foundation to research how to control the effects of tuberculosis (TB) — a bacterial infection that targets pulmonary function.

The project will incorporate new imaging methods, such as positron emission tomography (PET), in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of TB treatments. New treatments will seek to shorten treatment time, lower cost, and increase availability.

While TB is quite rare in the U.S., it infects approximately one-third of the world population and kills 2 million people per year.

Source: Medical News Today

Pacemakers strengthen heart

A Johns Hopkins study is the first to investigate the biological effects that implanted pacemakers have on the heart. The study focused on 22 dogs, all with damaged hearts.

In cases of congestive heart failure, the heart muscle weakens and becomes unable to regularly contract in order to pump blood to the rest of the body.

Researchers found that while the pacemaker is effective in controlling heart rate, it also produces chemical changes that actually improve the heart muscle and restore heart protein activity to its normal state.

In dogs without pacemakers, the disease led to changes in production levels of proteins that controlled heart cell survival and death. However, the installation of the pacemaker acted as a drug to stabilize these abnormal protein levels.

Source: The Washington Post

STDs increase among teenage girls

A recent study has shown that at least one in four teenage girls in the U.S. has a sexually transmitted disease. The most prevalent of these infections was the human papilloma virus, or HPV, which affected 18 percent of the girls studied.

In early stages, many STDs can be cured with a dose of antibiotics. However, symptoms do not automatically appear at the onset of the infections.

Those that go untreated can lead to sterility or cervical cancer in women.

Source: CNN