Daily Archives: February 2, 2011

‘Beauty sleep’ turns out to be true, says study

The idea of people needing “beauty sleep” has acquired some scientific backing, according to a Swedish study. People deprived of sleep for long periods appear less attractive and more unhealthy than those who are well rested, say researchers. Here are the details from the BBC:

Volunteers were photographed after eight hours sleep and again after being kept awake for 31 hours. Observers scored the sleep-deprived participants as less healthy and less attractive, the BMJ reports.

The concept of beauty sleep is well known. But, according to researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, it has lacked scientific support.

The team asked untrained observers to rate the faces of 23 young men and women who had been photographed after a normal night’s sleep and then after a night of sleep deprivation.

The photographs were standardised so that people were the same distance from the camera, wore no make-up and used the same expression.

The authors wrote in their paper published in the British Medical Journal: “Sleep deprived people are perceived as less attractive, less healthy and more tired compared with when they are well rested.”

They say the results may be useful in a medical setting, helping doctors to pick up signs of ill-health in their patients.

Commenting on the study, Derk-Jan Dijk, Professor of Sleep and Physiology at the Surrey Sleep Research Centre, said the effects of sleep loss on beauty may be even more dramatic than the photographs show. He said: “The photographs were taken during the daytime when the biological clock promotes wakefulness.

“Can you imagine how sleep loss makes you look at night or early in the morning when the circadian clock (body clock) promotes sleep?”

Here are some of my other blogs on the health benefits of sleep:

EPA says saccharin not a threat after all

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally and completely dropped the artificial sweetener saccharin from its list of substances that were possibly hazardous. Here are the details from Reuters Health:

The white crystalline powder used in diet drinks, chewing gum, and juice was dubbed a potential cancer-causing agent in 1980.

While a review by the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer cleared saccharin in the late 1990s, it has remained on the EPA’s potential hazard list.

The EPA said it is dropping saccharin and its salts from its hazard list after a request by the Calorie Control Council, which argued that the scientific basis for remaining on EPA’s list no longer applies. The Calorie Control Council is an industry group representing manufacturers and suppliers of low-calorie foods and beverages.

The removal will reduce waste management-related paperwork and reporting requirements for manufacturers who use saccharin in their products.

While the most common use of saccharin is as a sweetener for diet soft drinks, it is also used as a table-top sweetener and in other food products like juice, sweets, chewing gum and jellies.

The artificial sweetener is also used in toothpaste, mouthwash and in coatings on pills.

You can find my thoughts about aspartame in the blog “The Truth About 7 Common Food Additives.”

The Truth About 7 Common Food Additives

Does postmenopausal estrogen plus progestin therapy increase breast cancer risk?

It’s not rare for my female patients who are in menopause to ask whether postmenopausal estrogen plus progestin therapy increases breast cancer risk. We used to think that women could take estrogen plus progestin (Prempro, etc) for 5 years without increasing breast cancer risk. Then this was shortened to just 2 to 3 years … and now some experts say there is NO safe period.

New evidence also suggests that estrogen plus progestin increases the risk of ADVANCED breast cancer … and almost doubles MORTALITY.

But, and this is CRITICAL, this explains only the RELATIVE risk. The increase in ABSOLUTE risk is very small … about 1 or 2 more breast cancer deaths for every 10,000 women taking Prempro for one year.

In other words, the risk of breast cancer mortality does DOUBLE, but only from less than 1 per 10,000 to 1-2 per 10,000. So, the RELATIVE RISK almost doubles, but the ABSOLUTE RISK is very, very, very low.

The experts at the Prescribers Letter tell healthcare professionals, “Tell women on estrogen ALONE that this DOESN’T apply to them. Taking Premarin for about 7 years doesn’t increase breast cancer risk … but this is only appropriate for women without a uterus.”

Save hormone therapy for moderate to severe menopausal symptoms. Continue to use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration.

For just vaginal symptoms, try vaginal lubricants, moisturizers, or vaginal estrogen therapy (Vagifem, Estring, etc).