Now, University of Colorado School of Medicine researches are saying intense light might also make the list.
"The study suggests that strong light, or even just daylight, might ease the risk of having a heart attack or suffering damage from one," Tobias Eckle, MD, PhD, an associate professor of anesthesiology, cardiology and cell and developmental biology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said. "For patients, this could mean that daylight exposure inside of the hospital could reduce the damage that is caused by a heart attack."
Researchers say the reason may lie in the circadian rhythm, which is the body's clock that is linked to light and dark. They say the circadian clock is regulated by proteins in the brain, called Period 2 proteins, can also be found elsewhere, like your heart.
The researchers found one of the proteins plays a crucial role in preventing damage after a heart attack.
When a person has a heart attack and little-to-no oxygen reaches the heart, the heart switches from burning fat for fuel to burning glucose. Researchers say the heart cells begin to die, leading to damage.
"The study showed that the Period 2 protein is vital for that change in fuel, from fat to glucose, and therefore could make heart metabolism more efficient. In fact, strong daylight-activated Period 2 in animals and minimized damage from a heart attack," Dan Meyers, a spokesperson for the CU School of Medicine, said.
He says future studies will try to decipher how the light is able to change the heart's metabolism in humans and how light can be used to treat heart attack patients.
The study was published in the April edition of the "Nature Medicine" research journal.
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