New research homes in on how disruptions to our circadian rhythm make us vulnerable to disease.
If we tamper with our circadian rhythms — set by the body clocks that regulate all the automated processes that take place inside the body — we tamper with our health.
Our body clocks control metabolism, contributing to the proper functioning of every organ in our bodies.
However, if we regularly bypass our natural day to night cycles — by working through the night, traveling long-distance, or spending too much time looking at bright screens in the dark — our body clocks become disoriented and stop functioning correctly.
New research from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Nagoya University in Japan identifies a key mechanism that links the dysregulation of circadian rhythms with a greater exposure to chronic diseases.
“Epidemiological studies are consistently revealing more and more connections between modern lifestyles and our internal biological clock, and when those two clash, it can lead to development of diseases such as obesity and breast cancer,” notes study author Steve Kay, Provost Professor of Neurology, Biomedical Engineering and Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California.
However, he adds, “This study goes beyond the epidemiology to explore the mechanisms of circadian disruption as a risk factor for certain diseases.”
The new study, which appears in PNAS, has identified a protein that plays a dual role in the context of the circadian rhythm, and which explains how disrupted body clocks can lead to disease.