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Forget about jet lag, and much more

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1:47pm, June 20, 2001

World-weary travelers take heed: You should schedule a break before hopping on yet another flight to a distant time zone. A new study suggests that chronic jet lag shrinks the brain.

Temporary fatigue, drowsiness, and loss of concentration are typical symptoms of isolated bouts of jet lag (SN: 9/18/99, p. 189). Now, a report in the June Nature Neuroscience hints that more ominous consequences wait in the wings for airline flight crews who repeatedly cross many time zones. Kwangwook Cho of the University of Bristol Medical School in England found that flight attendants with chronic jet lag have higher stress-hormone concentrations in their saliva and smaller temporal lobes than more rested attendants do. The temporal lobes are critical brain areas for processing short-term memory.

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