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Here’s why saturated fatty acids are bad for our health

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New York, Dec 3: Using a new technique to visualise the distribution and dynamics of fatty acids inside living cells, researchers have found why excess saturated fats, such as those released from lard, are toxic to cells and cause a wide variety of lipid-related diseases.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), also showed why unsaturated fats, such as those from fish and olive oil, can be protective.

The researchers believe that the findings could have significant impact on both the understanding and treatment of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“The behaviour of saturated fatty acids once they’ve entered cells contributes to major and often deadly diseases,” said principal investigator of the study Wei Min, Professor at Columbia University in New York.

“Visualising how fatty acids are contributing to lipid metabolic disease gives us the direct physical information we need to begin looking for effective ways to treat them. Perhaps, for example, we can find a way to block the toxic lipid accumulation,” Min added.

The researchers developed a new microscopy technique that allows for the direct tracking of fatty acids after they have been absorbed into living cells.

The technique involves replacing hydrogen atoms on fatty acids with their isotope, deuterium, without changing their physicochemical properties and behaviour like traditional strategies do.

By making the switch, all molecules made from fatty acids can be observed inside living cells by an advanced imaging technique called stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) microscopy.

The researchers found that the cellular process of building the cell membrane from saturated fatty acids results in patches of hardened membrane in which molecules are “frozen.”

Under healthy conditions, this membrane should be flexible and the molecules fluidic.

The researchers explained that the stiff, straight, long chains of saturated fatty acids rigidify the lipid molecules and cause them to separate from the rest of the cell’s membrane.

Under their microscope, the team observed that those lipid molecules then accumulate in tightly-packed “islands,” or clusters, that do not move much — a state they call “solid-like.”

As more saturated fatty acids enter the cell, those islands grow in size, creating increasing inelasticity of the membrane and gradually damaging the entire cell.

“We found that adding unsaturated fatty acids could ‘melt’ the membrane islands frozen by saturated fatty acids,” said first author Yihui Shen, a graduate student in Min’s lab.

This new mechanism, she said, can partly explain the beneficial effect of unsaturated fatty acids and how unsaturated fats like those from fish oil can be protective in some lipid disorders.

IANS

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Radiation from smartphones may up miscarriage risk: Study

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Pregnant woman, smartphone

New York, Dec 14: Pregnant women’s exposure to non-ionising radiation from smartphones, Bluetooth devices and laptops may more than double the risk of miscarriage, a study has showed.

Non-ionising radiation — radiation that produces enough energy to move around atoms in a molecule, but not enough to remove electrons completely — from magnetic fields is produced when electric devices are in use and electricity is flowing.

It can be generated by a number of environmental sources, including electric appliances, power lines and transformers, wireless devices and wireless networks.

While the health hazards from ionising radiation are well-established and include radiation sickness, cancer and genetic damage, the evidence of health risks to humans from non-ionising radiation remains limited, said De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente — a US-based health care firm.

For the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the team asked for 913 pregnant women over age 18 to wear a small (a bit larger than a deck of cards) magnetic-field monitoring device for 24 hours.

After controlling for multiple other factors, women who were exposed to higher magnetic fields levels had 2.72 times the risk of miscarriage than those with lower magnetic fields exposure.

The increased risk of miscarriage associated with high magnetic fields was consistently observed regardless of the sources of high magnetic fields. The association was much stronger if magnetic fields was measured on a typical day of participants’ pregnancies.

The finding also demonstrated that accurate measurement of magnetic field exposure is vital for examining magnetic field health effects.

“This study provides evidence from a human population that magnetic field non-ionising radiation could have adverse biological impacts on human health,” Li noted.

“We hope that the finding from this study will stimulate much-needed additional studies into the potential environmental hazards to human health, including the health of pregnant women,” he said.

IANS
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Use of Smartphone before sleep may make your kid obese: Study

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New York, Dec 10: Beware if your children have a habit of playing games on smartphones before sleeping, he or she may face an increased risk of becoming obese, warns a study.

It was discovered kids who used digital devices such as watching TV or playing games on smartphones before going to bed got an average of 30 minutes less sleep in comparison to those who did not.

This lack of proper sleep not only caused fatigue and attention problems in school, but also disrupted their eating habits. This leads to higher body mass indexes (BMI), news agency IANS reported.

“We saw technology before bed being associated with less sleep and higher BMIs,”stated Caitlyn Fuller, researcher at the Pennsylvania State University in the US.

“We also saw this technology use being associated with more fatigue in the morning, which circling back, is another risk factor for higher BMIs. So we’re seeing a loop pattern forming,” Fuller further asserted.

The study, published in the journal Global Pediatric Health, examined the sleep and technology habits of 234 children, between the age of eight to 17 years.

As per the suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parents should set some limitations regarding the use of technology, like requiring their kids to put away their devices during meal times and keeping phones out of bedrooms at night.

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How jet lag could increase cancer risk

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London, Dec 10: Frequent travelling that causes jet lag could increase risk of cancer as it tends to disrupt our body clocks that are controlled by the same mechanism that causes tumors, reveals study.

The findings, reported in the Daily Mail, discovered that internal human body clocks have a major influence on cell multiplication and has the potential to prevent cancer.

“Our internal clock is in sync with external light and dark cues, and prompts people’s behaviour and activity levels,” lead author Angela Relogio from the Charite-Medical University in Berlin, was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.

“Based on our results, it seems to us that the clock is likely to act as a tumor suppressor,” Relogio added.

For the study, published in the journal PLOS Biology, researchers examined a protein known as RAS, which is inappropriately activated in around a quarter of cancerous cells, in mice.

This takes place via two proteins — INK4 and ARF — that are known to conquer cancer.

“One cannot stop wondering whether disrupted circadian timing should be included as a next potential hallmark of cancer,” Relogio asserted.

Changes in the biological clock have also been known to up the risk of heart related diseases and diabetes.

WeForNews 

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