Is your bedroom TV making you fat?

Thought provoking study suggests that having a bedroom that isn’t completely dark such as sleeping with the TV on may be linked to weight gain and insulin resistance. Simple remedy that may be effective in helping with maintaining a healthy weight is to remove the TV from the bedroom! Light-dark cycles are known to be associated with melatonin release and this in turn is associated with tryptophan uptake in the brain. Tryptophan is an unusual amino acid and is taken up by the brain most rapidly when other amino acids circulate at lower levels such as after a carbohydrate only meal – maybe its not just the TV light but maybe that triggers cravings for soda and chips too. This study looked at mice (admittedly not humans but easier to control!) and found that exposure to a relatively dim light at night over 8 weeks caused a 50% greater weight gain than in mice who had a standard light-dark cycle.

French researcher J Le Magnen back in the 1980’s described fat building (lipogenesis) in association with dark cycles of rats contrasted to fat burning (lipolysis) during the light cycle. His findings were controversial at the time but maybe we should look again at how obesity may be not just about what we eat but how well we sleep.

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“Neurobiology of feeding and nutrition” by Jacques Le Magnen

Academic Press, 1992

Experimenting in the Kitchen

Listening to Jeff Potter, a software engineer and author of “Cooking for Geeks” as he demystifies food preparation as Ira Flatow’s guest on Science Friday. Who knew that “Total Textural Preference” describes how one of the proteins in meat (Myosin) changes shape before the other one (Actin) at 120 degrees and apparently we like that?!
Did you know that when it is hot enough to fry an egg it means the sidewalk is at least 142 degrees? I also learned that sugar melts at 367 degrees. I forgot that food science was so interesting. My undergraduate courses never held my attention like that but perhaps it is all in the delivery and Jeff is a self professed kitchen geek. I can’t wait to read his book and start experimenting in the kitchen.

UCLA sequences genome of brain tumor cancer cell line

Stan Nelson a genetics researcher and director of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, senior author of PLOS article identifying a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). This is the first time a GBM cell line has had its whole genome sequenced. They used U87MG, a well studied line derived from a grade IV gliomaBy comparing SNPs in the cell line genome with those found in dbSNP and two previously published genomes — the Watson genome and first Asian genome — they found that the prevalence of SNPs in the U87MG genome was comparable to that in normal genomes. “Most of the variation is still dominated by the inherited polymorphisms,” Nelson explained. Even so, the team detected mutations affecting 512 protein-coding genes, including PTEN, a gene previously implicated in brain cancer. Many of these involve small insertions and deletions. As the brain is encased in a rigid skull structure, speed and accuracy of treatment decisions is crucial and this research will significantly add to the personalization of future treatments of those with this aggressive brain tumor.