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Chronotherapeutics (From Emile KAHOUN, Lycee Yadega)

Our bodies are wonderfully deft at maintaining balance. When the temperature jumps, we sweat to cool down. When our blood pressure falls, our heart pounds to compensate. As it turns out, though, our natural state is not a steady one. Researchers are finding that everything from blood to brain function varies rhythmically with the cycle of sun, moon and seasons. And understanding them is giving new strategies for avoiding such common killers as heart disease and cancer. Only one doctor in 20 is well versed in the growing field of "chronotherapeutics", the strategic use of time (chrono) in medicine. "The field is exploding", says Michael Smolensky, the university of Texas psychologist who heads Houston's Hermann Centre for Chronobiology and Chronotherapeutics.
In medical school, most doctors learn that people with chronic conditions should take their medicine at steady rates. For example, asthmatics are most likely to suffer during the night, when mucus production increases, airways narrow and inflammatory cells work overtime. Yet most patients strive to keep a constant level of medicine in their body day and night, whether by puffing on an inhaler four times a day or taking a pill each morning and evening. In recent studies, researchers have found that a large midafternoon dose of a steroid or broncodilator can be as safe as several small doses, and better for avoiding nighttime attacks.
In 1989, Dr William Houshesky of Albany's Stratton VA Medical Centre analysed the records of 41 women who'd undergone surgery for breast cancer and found that those operated on midway through the menstrual cycle enjoyed better 10-year survival rates than those treated at other times of the month. His colleagues laughed at the time, but nine studies involving 2,300 women have turned up the same result. Those studies suggest that midcycle breast surgery may bring a 30 percent survival advantage. If so, it could prevent 15,000 deaths a year in the United States alone. And unlike most new treatments, this one would cost no more than what it replaced. Time, after all, is free.

By Geoffrey Cowley, Newsweek, March 11, 1986 (adapted)

Deft: adroit
Steady: regular, constant.
Versed in: experienced in
To narrow: rétrécir
To strive: to make great efforts.


1) According to the text, how do the cycles of sun, moon and seasons influence our health? (03 marks)
2) Give the definition of chronotherapeutics.(03 marks)
3) Referring to the text, when can asthma treatment be more effective? (02 marks)
4) Referring to the results of studies in the text, what is the most suitable time for performing breast-cancer surgery and why? (04 marks)
5) In Burkina Faso, people contract some diseases at particular seasons. Give one of these typical diseases and say when and how it is contracted. Then suggest the most effective way of preventing it. (08 marks)
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