Islamabad - The people who tend to skip breakfast during their teens are actually putting themselves at the risk of developing metabolic syndrome as they grow old.

Metabolic syndrome is an all-encompassing term for various problems, including abdominal obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, or a resistance to insulin.  According to the latest study, people who neglected to eat breakfast or ate a poor breakfast had a 68 percent higher incidence of metabolic syndrome as adults, compared with those who had eaten more substantial breakfasts in their youth.

For the study, researchers from Umea University in Sweden asked 889 16-year-old students in 1981 about their breakfast habits. Twenty-seven years later, the researchers brought the participants back to check on their health where the presence of metabolic syndrome and its various subcomponents was investigated.

The researchers found that abdominal obesity and high levels of fasting blood glucose levels were the subcomponents which, at adult age, could be most clearly linked with poor breakfast in youth. Having a healthy breakfast in formative years can prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke in adulthood.

Eating, sleeping well hold key to longer life: Study

Good sleep patterns can help men live longer, but women will only benefit if they follow a diverse diet, a new Australian study has found.

A Monash University-led collaborative study investigated the ways diet contributed to the relationship between sleep quality and mortality among elderly men and women. Women who eat a varied diet, including sources rich in vitamin B6, could still live long lives despite poor sleep habits, according to the study. Mark Wahlqvist, Emeritus professor at Monash University, said sleep played a more important role in men’s mortality than women’s.

“Poor sleep has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.

“We found that for both genders, poor sleep was strongly correlated with poor appetite and poor perceived health,” Walhqvist said.

He said there was significant interaction between sleep quality and dietary diversity. For men, poor sleep was not associated with a greater risk of death unless there was also insufficient dietary diversity. For women, good sleep only provide a survival advantage if they had a diverse diet.

The study found women were almost twice as likely as men to sleep badly.

Women who were poor sleepers had a lower intake of vitamin B6 from food than those whose sleep was rated fair or good. Also, fair sleepers had lower iron intakes than good sleepers.

However, both men and women could improve their outlook by eating a more varied diet. “Sufficient dietary diversity in men could offset the adverse effect on mortality of poor sleep while women need to make sure they are eating foods high in vitamin B6,” he said.

People who did not sleep well were also less able to chew, had poor appetites and indulged in less physical activity. These characteristics could contribute to lower overall dietary quality and food and nutrient intake, especially for vegetables, protein-rich foods, and vitamin B-6, Walhqvist said.

“They may also contribute to the risk of death, either in their own right or together with problematic sleep. Intervention focusing on education on healthy dietary practices in elderly people could improve sleep duration and provide more stable levels of health,” he said.

Third-hand smoke just as lethal as first-hand smoke

A scientist at the University of California, Riverside suggests that second-hand smoke and third-hand smoke are just as deadly as first-hand smoke.

While first-hand smoke refers to the smoke inhaled by a smoker and second-hand smoke to the exhaled smoke and other substances emanating from the burning cigarette that can get inhaled by others, third-hand smoke is the second-hand smoke that gets left on the surfaces of objects, ages over time and becomes progressively more toxic.

“We studied, on mice, the effects of third-hand smoke on several organ systems under conditions that simulated third-hand smoke exposure of humans,” Manuela Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology who led the study, said. “We found significant damage occurs in the liver and lung. Wounds in these mice took longer to heal. Further, these mice displayed hyperactivity,” the researcher said.

The results of the study provide a basis for studies on the toxic effects of third-hand smoke in humans and serve to inform potential regulatory policies aimed at preventing involuntary exposure to third-hand smoke.  Third-hand smoke is a potential health threat to children, spouses of smokers and workers in environments where smoking is, or has been, allowed. Contamination of the homes of smokers by third-hand smoke is high, both on surfaces and in dust, including children’s bedrooms.

Re-emission of nicotine from contaminated indoor surfaces in these households can lead to nicotine exposure levels similar to that of smoking. Third-hand smoke, which contains strong carcinogens, has been found to persist in houses, apartments and hotel rooms after smokers move out.

The team led by Martins-Green found that the mice exposed to third-hand smoke in the lab showed alterations in multiple organ systems and excreted levels of a tobacco-specific carcinogen similar to those found in children exposed to second-hand smoke (and consequently to third-hand smoke).

In the liver, third-hand smoke was found to increase lipid levels and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a precursor to cirrhosis and cancer and a potential contributor to cardiovascular disease.

In the lungs, third-hand smoke was found to simulate excess collagen production and high levels of inflammatory cytokines (small proteins involved in cell signalling), suggesting propensity for fibrosis with implications for inflammation-induced diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.

In wounded skin, healing in mice exposed to third-hand smoke showed many characteristics of the kind of poor healing observed in human smokers who have gone through surgery. Finally, in behavioural tests the mice exposed to third-hand smoke showed hyperactivity.

“The latter data, combined with emerging associated behavioural problems in children exposed to second- and third-hand smoke suggests that with prolonged exposure, they may be at significant risk for developing more severe neurological disorders,” Martins-Green said.