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Gene appears linked with a person's daily rhythms

Variations could play a role in determining time of death

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9:06am, May 11, 2012

The settings for a person’s biological clock might provide clues to when, during the day, he or she will be more active. What’s more, these same settings could be linked to what time of day a person might die, a new study finds.

Understanding the biological basis of these built-in, or circadian, clocks “could lead to products that eventually allow us to shift the clock forwards or backwards,” says Philip De Jager, a neurologist with Harvard Medical School in Boston. He and his colleagues describe their work online April 26 in Annals of Neurology.

Being able to alter these clocks could prove useful for shift workers, such as pilots, who might face trouble working against their intrinsic daily rhythms, De Jager adds. And patients can be better cared for if doctors know what times of day are most critical.

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