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Are Our Health Conditions Conditional?

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Trouble sleeping at night? Wake up feeling tired? According to a study published in the journal Neurology, people with the gene variant DQB1*0602 are more likely to feel sleepy, be light sleepers and wake fatigued after an extended night’s sleep. Of the 130 people in the study, those who had the gene variant slept less soundly, had less REM sleep and were more tired than those without the gene after the same amount of sleep. Supposedly only 25% of the population has this condition, but I’m sure 90% of us think we’re part of that 25%.

One of the consequences of feeling tired is drowsy driving – an increasing risk to road safety. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found 10% of drivers had fallen asleep while driving the previous year and 25% had trouble staying awake the previous month. Crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed 16.5% of fatal crashes and 13% of accidents requiring hospitalization between 1999 and 2008 involved drowsy driving. It seems drivers underestimate how tired they are and overestimate their ability to handle being tired when driving – causing an estimate of 2.4% of the fatal crashes in 2008.

Something else that’s increasing is fast food advertising aimed at children. Companies selling sugary cereals and drinks have reduced their TV ads, but researchers found preschoolers are seeing 21% more fast food ads than they did in 2003 and older children are seeing 34% more. According to a Yale University study, the average preschooler in 2010 sees 3 fast food commercials a day and the average teenager sees 5. In 2006 industry leaders voluntarily agreed to limit marketing unhealthy food to children and devote at least 50% of their ads to choices considered “better for you”. Now we know better.

From fast food to fat, which affects sperm quality. Harvard researchers analyzed sperm of 91 men who had been questioned about their diet. They discovered that men who ate the most saturated fat (meat, dairy) had 41% fewer sperm than those who ate the least and men who ate the most monounsaturated fat (vegetable oils, nuts, seeds) had 46% fewer sperm than those who ate the least. However, the sperm of men who ate more polyunsaturated fat (fish, whole grains) had better movement, shape and size. It’s not just about what women eat. Men wanting to be fathers should be polyunsaturated “fat-hers”.

 

Knight Pierce Hirst has written for television, newspapers and greeting cards. Now she writes a 400-word, news blog three times a week. KNIGHT WATCH, a second look at what makes life interesting, takes only seconds to read at http://knightwatch.typepad.com