Your Health has a Season

Photo of pasque flowers

Pasque flowers in a northern hemisphere garden in spring.

As the seasons change so does the general state of health for many of us. The further from the equator we live, the more pronounced these effects are. For instance, did you know that blood pressure elevation for many people increases with the distance they live from the equator, an effect most pronounced during the low sunlight season (winter in the northern hemisphere)?

A report published online in Nature Communications May 12, shows evidence of changes in cellular physiology with the seasons. Todd et al. published a study entitled: “Widespread seasonal gene expression reveals annual differences in human immunity and physiology”, where they note,

“Here we find more than 4,000 protein-coding mRNAs in white blood cells and adipose tissue to have seasonal expression profiles, with inverted patterns observed between Europe and Oceania.”

Let’s Take a Look at the Research

Todd et al. looked at ethnically and geographically distinct populations, including subjects from Australia, The Gambia (Africa), Germany, the UK and Iceland. Individuals from the various studies were infants, adults with type 1 diabetes and asthmatics in the range of 18-83 years of age. The authors analyzed RNA from peripheral blood mononuclear cells and subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsies, as well as examining peripheral blood cell counts and circulating levels of proinflammatory cytokines. Continue reading

Inherited Gifts May Not Include a Long Life

Hiking Perhaps we are what we eat, but suddenly we can no longer rely on our parents, that is our genetic makeup, to determine how long we live. At least not according to Swedish researchers who published recently in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

To be honest, “suddenly” is a bit of a misnomer; the study from which the data comes has been underway longer than many of us have been alive.

Timeline 1963, Gothenburg, Sweden. The study, a prospective of men turning 50 years old, that is, men born in 1913. The study goal, to identify variables important in reaching age 90 and to characterize the accuracy of these variables in predicting long life, in middle age. A secondary goal was learn how the predictive ability of a given variable might change over time, such as a strong predictor becoming less accurate with age. Continue reading