Health Highlights: Sept. 27, 2017

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

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Major U.S. Study Will Examine Precision Medicine

A groundbreaking study that will examine the interaction between people's genes, environments and lifestyles is being launched by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The "All of Us" study will focus on precision medicine, which uses traits unique to each person to predict health and treat disease, the Associated Press reported.

If a current pilot project involving more than 2,500 people is successful, the NIH plans to open enrollment early next year for more than 1 million adults. Participants will undergo DNA tests and provide details on lifestyle factors such as sleep, exercise and diet.

The study, set to run for at least 10 years, seeks to enroll a wide variety of Americans, especially minorities who have been under-represented in scientific research, the AP reported.

"This looks at individual responses to treatment in a way we couldn't do previously with smaller studies," said NIH Director Francis Collins.

He plans to enroll in the study, saying it's a rare opportunity to be part of an important study rather than the scientist conducting research.

"I'm curious about what this might teach me about myself. I'm pretty healthy right now. I'd like to stay that way," Collins told the AP.

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Sleep Deprivation a Serious Threat to Health: Expert

Sleep deprivation is associated with a number of serious diseases, according to an expert.

This "catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic" causes harm to your biology, Matthew Walker, director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, told The Guardian.

Features of modern life such as long commutes, increased melding of work and personal time, electric lights, and too much time in front of televisions and computers contribute to sleep deprivation, defined as less than seven hours of sleep a night.

A lack of sleep has been linked to a number of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, obesity and poor mental health, the Guardian reported.

"No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation," Walker said. "It sinks down into every possible nook and cranny. And yet no one is doing anything about it. Things have to change: in the workplace and our communities, our homes and families."

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Despite the threat posed by sleep deprivation, it's not being taken seriously by politicians and employers, he said.


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