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Medical Test Accuracy Linked to TIme of Day

Update Date: Jul 08, 2014 02:33 AM EDT

Medical tests are more accurate during certain times of the day, according to a new study.

New research reveals that the time of day and sleep deprivation can significantly influence metabolism, and should be considered when administering tests for diseases like cancer and heart disease.

The latest study from the University of Surrey and The Institute of Cancer Research and London studied healthy male participants who were placed in a laboratory environment where exposure to light, sleep, meals and posture were controlled.

After analyzing blood samples, which were collected every two hours, researchers found that metabolic processes are significantly increased during sleep deprivation. The study revealed that levels of 27 metabolites, including serotonin, were at higher levels when the men were sleep deprived.

"Our results show that if we want to develop a diagnostic test for a disease, it is imperative to take the time of day when taking blood samples into account, since this has a significant effect on metabolism. This is also key for administering medicines and determining when they will be at their most effective. Of course, this will have to be considered on a case-by-case basis, since many people such as shift workers will have a different sleep/wake cycle and timings will need to be adapted to their body clocks," lead researcher Debra Skene, a professor from the University of Surrey, said in a news release.

"The study made accurate measurements of a large number of metabolites as they varied by time of day and under different sleep patterns. Our findings are likely to be important in interpreting the results of blood tests, and in understanding why some individuals respond differently to medication. They also set reference points for future studies looking at the connection between metabolic processes and diseases such as cancer," senior researcher Dr. Florence Raynaud, a group leader at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said in a statement.

The findings were published July 7 in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

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