HEALTH news in brief

Creativity link to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; how stress affects health long-term

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 June, 2015, 10:25am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 June, 2015, 10:25am

Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder linked to creativity: Genes linked to creativity could increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to research from King's College London published in Nature Neuroscience. Genetic risk scores were examined in a sample of 86,292 individuals from the general population of Iceland. Creative individuals were defined as those belonging to the national artistic societies of actors, dancers, musicians, visual artists and writers. Researchers found that genetic risk scores for both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were much higher in those defined as creative individuals, with scores about halfway between the general population and those with the disorders. "Our findings suggest that creative people may have a genetic predisposition towards thinking differently which, when combined with other harmful biological or environmental factors, could lead to mental illness," says researcher Robert Power.

Keep calm and carry on - or risk inflammation: Reacting positively to stressful situations may play a key role in long-term health, according to Penn State researchers. In a study measuring adults' reactions to stress and how it affects their bodies, they found that adults who fail to maintain positive moods such as cheerfulness or calm when faced with the minor stressors of everyday life appear to have elevated levels of inflammation. Chronic inflammation can undermine health, and appears to play a role in obesity, heart disease and cancer. Also, women can be at heightened risk. The study data came from a cross-sectional sample of 872 adults from the US National Study of Daily Experiences. The participants reported daily stressors and emotional reactions for eight consecutive days, and their blood samples were tested for inflammatory markers. "A person's frequency of stress may be less related to inflammation than responses to stress," says postdoctoral fellow Nancy Sin. "It is how a person reacts to stress that is important."

Morning people gain less weight: The early bird catches morning light, which a new study has found is linked with lower body mass index and body fat percentage than those with more of their moderate or higher intensity light exposure later in the day. The study by Northwestern University in Chicago was presented last week at a sleep conference in Seattle, Washington. The study group comprised 23 healthy adults. Most were female, with a mean age of 26 and a mean BMI of 29. Subjects wore a wrist monitor for seven days to determine light patterns. "These results emphasise the importance of getting the majority of your exposure to moderate or higher intensity light during the morning and provide further support that changes to environmental light exposure in humans may affect body weight regulation," says study co-author Ivy N. Cheung.