Cholesterol Linked to Gene Variants
Though lifestyle choices are still important, your genes may predispose you to high cholesterol and heart disease. New research has identified 95 regions of human DNA related to blood levels of cholesterol, according to a report published this week in the journal Nature. Of those regions, 59 were linked for the first time to the way the body processes fats, which affects blood cholesterol. Genes control about a third of an individual's cholesterol and triglyceride levels, Reuters reports, so an enhanced understanding of which genes impact cholesterol—and how—is important. Although experts continue to stress the importance of diet and exercise in controlling cholesterol levels, the new findings could steer researchers towards novel ways to prevent heart disease.
Body Piercings Tied to Health Complications
Body piercings may be a way to self-express, but they could also lead to gapped teeth, chewing problems, and breast abscesses, according to two new studies. A case study released this week describes a 26-year-old woman who developed a gap between her two front teeth after repeatedly playing with her tongue barbell, The Wall Street Journal reports. Within seven years of getting pierced, the gap had become as wide as the diameter of the stud. Other side effects of tongue piercing include pain and swelling, local infection, nerve damage, and scar tissue. A separate study, published by the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, found that nipple rings raise the risk of breast abscesses, which may develop even years after the initial piercing.
Sleep Deprived? Here's How to Recover
Sure, we all know we're supposed to get seven or eight hours of sleep a night, but all of us skimp from time to time, getting, say, five hours one night and six hours the next. Those lost hours, though, can add up to a big sleep debt by the end of the week—the reason so many of us feel wiped out by Friday, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz writes. But here's a bit of good news: Researchers have found that sleeping in after a few days of missed sleep can help pay back that debt, nearly erasing any lingering sense of fatigue and mental fuzziness, according to a study published this week in the journal Sleep. "The brain has a built-in reflex that helps you sleep deeper and longer when you're sleep deprived," says study coauthor David Dinges, chief of the division of sleep and chronobiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "This recovery sleep seems to have a genuine benefit to restoring alertness."
Think you're doing fine on only six hours a night? Think again. Although Dinges hears this from folks all the time, he says it's true for only a small percentage of the population. Most of us actually need seven or eight hours of shut-eye to feel 100 percent the next day. "If you fall asleep watching TV or struggle to stay awake in a meeting," he says, "you're sleep deprived." And it's not just fatigue you feel but reduced brain function in terms of your memory, alertness, cognitive speed, and reaction time. "Some of us are so used to not getting enough sleep that we've forgotten what it feels like to be fully alert," Dinges adds. [Read more: Sleep Deprived? Here's How to Recover.]
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