Are You Sleeping Your Way to a Stroke?—And Other CM Risk Alerts

January 21, 2020

Excessive sleep has been linked to an increased risk for stroke. Toxins may be escaping from the screens of devices like smartphones and TVs. Fitbits may be able to help track flu outbreaks in real time.


Are You Sleeping Your Way to a Stroke?

In November 2019, CM Risk Alerts warned that poor sleep habits may be linked to dementia and other health risks. Now, new research finds that too much sleep may be just as detrimental to your health.

A recent study appearing in the journal Neurology has found an association between daytime naps, excessive sleep and a higher risk for strokes.

The study found that participants who slept for nine or more hours per night were 23 percent more likely to experience a stroke than those who regularly slept only seven to eight hours each night. Those who both slept for longer than nine hours and napped for more than 90 minutes per day had an 85 percent higher risk of stroke than those who slept and napped moderately. Sleep quality also seems to play a role—those who reported poor sleep quality were 29 percent more likely to have a stroke.

The research did not account for sleep apnea or other sleep disorders that may have influenced the results.

“More research is needed to understand how taking long naps and sleeping longer hours at night may be tied to an increased risk of stroke, but previous studies have shown that long nappers and sleepers have unfavorable changes in their cholesterol levels and increased waist circumferences, both of which are risk factors for stroke,” said Dr. Xiaomin Zhang, from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, one of the authors of the paper that details this study. “In addition, long napping and sleeping may suggest an overall inactive lifestyle, which is also related to increased risk of stroke.”

(Source: “Stroke: Excessive sleep may raise risk by 85%”)

Are Smart Screens Leaking Toxins Into Homes?

Potentially toxic chemicals may be escaping from the screens of your smart devices and contaminating your home, warns a paper published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers found chemicals called liquid crystal monomers, used to manufacture screens for devices like smartphones and TVs, in household dust samples. The researchers tested dust from seven different buildings in China: acanteen, student dormitory, teaching building, hotel, personal residence, lab and electronics repair facility. Nearly half of the 53 samples tested positive for the chemicals.

“These chemicals are semi-liquid and can get into the environment at any time during manufacturing and recycling, and they are vaporized during burning. Now we also know that these chemicals are being released by products just by using them,” said study leader John Giesy, the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Saskatchewan.

Giesy said some of the chemicals’ properties are concerning because they have the potential to accumulate in animals, resist breaking down in the environment and travel long distances through the atmosphere.

Lab testing showed some of the chemicals affect animals’ ability to digest nutrients and cause gallbladder and thyroid malfunctions, similar to dioxins and flame retardants.

“We don’t know yet whether this a problem, but we do know that people are being exposed, and these chemicals have the potential to cause adverse effects,” Giesy said in a university news release.

(Sources: “Research finds potentially toxic chemicals used in smartphones and TVs escaping into environment“; “Your TV, Smartphone Screens May Send Toxins Into Your Home“)

The Future of Fitbit: Flu Tracker?

Fitbits may be useful for more than tracking the progress of your fitness, according to new research. They may also help health officials stop the flu from spreading.

Researchers working at the Scripps Research Translational Institute reviewed de-identified data from users wearing Fitbits and found that they were able to do real-time flu prediction at the state level using heart rate trackers and sleep data.

“We demonstrate the potential for metrics from wearable devices to enhance flu surveillance and consequently improve public health responses. In the future as these devices improve, and with access to 24/7 real-time data, it may be possible to identify rates of influenza on a daily instead of weekly basis,” said study author Jennifer Radin, an epidemiologist at Scripps Research Translational Institute.

Traditional surveillance reporting can take anywhere from one to three weeks to report, limiting the ability to enact quick response measures. The researchers also believe they may eventually be able to make predictions at the county or city-level with more data.

(Source: “Your Fitbit could help health officials predict flu outbreaks in real-time“)