Longevity News & Review

By Dr. Robert Goldman
For The Bali Times

Longevity News and Review provides readers with the latest information in breakthroughs pertaining to the extension of the healthy human lifespan. These news summaries are compiled by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M; www.worldhealth.net), a non-profit medical society composed of 20,000 physician and scientist members from 90 nations, united in a mission to advance biomedical technologies to detect, prevent, and treat aging related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimize the human aging process.  Dr. Ronald Klatz, president, and Dr. Robert Goldman, A4M chairman, physician co-founders of the anti-aging medical movement, distill these headlines and provide their commentary

Carotenes Correspond to Lower Cardiovascular Disease Deaths

In a study involving 559 men followed for fifteen years, Brian Buijsse, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and colleagues found that an increased consumption of alpha- and beta-carotene in the diet significantly reduced the risks of heart disease deaths. Specifically, the team found that the increased intake of carrots, rich in alpha- and beta-carotene, corresponded to a 17 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular-related death. Interestingly, the researchers also found that increased intakes of other carotenoids, vitamin C, or alpha- and gamma tocopherol (the two most common types of vitamin E in the diet), had no influence on the risk of cardiovascular-related death.

Dr. Klatz remarks: Almost 700,000 Americans die of heart diseases each year (29 percent of all the nation’s deaths), and approximately 700,000 strokes occur in the US each year, many of them resulting in long-term disability. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular diseases cost US$403.1 billion in 2006, including healthcare services, medications and lost productivity to the nation. This study suggests the potential therapeutic effect of alpha- and beta-carotene intakes for heart and vascular health, which may be able to be achieved simply by choosing to consume greater quantities of foods rich in those compounds.

Lack of Physical Activity Accelerates Aging

Telomeres are the endcaps on chromosomes, and telomeric shortening is thought to govern the number of times a cell can divide. In white blood cells (leukocytes), telomere shortening is used as a marker of biological age. Lynn Cherkas, from King’s College London, and colleagues, studied 2,401 twins, tracking their physical activity level, lifestyle habits, and examining the length of the telomeres in the subjects’ white blood cells (leukocytes).The team found telomere length decreased with age, and men and women who were less physically active in their leisure time had shorter leukocyte telomeres than those who were more active. The mean difference in leukocyte telomere length between the most active subjects (who performed n average of 199 minutes of physical activity per week) versus the least active subjects (16 minutes of physical activity per week) was 200 nucleotides. This translated to mean that “the most active subjects had telomeres the same length as sedentary individuals up to 10 years younger, on average.”

Dr. Goldman observes: This study is a clear demonstration that adults who participate in regular physical activity are biologically younger than sedentary individuals. There is, as the authors suggest, a clear “potential anti-aging effect of regular exercise.” In general, people should aim for 30 minutes of moderately intense physical exercise at least five days a week (check with your doctor first).

Lead Exposure Effects May Masquerade as ‘Normal Mental Decline’

Although sharp reductions in environmental lead levels were mandated more than twenty years ago, new research suggest that past exposure to lead may have detrimental and lasting effects. W.F. Stewart, from Geisinger Clinic in Pennsylvania, and colleagues conducted three independent longitudinal studies to determine whether cumulative lead exposure was associated with persistent or progressive brain effects. The team studied 1,109 American workers previously exposed to lead occupationally, 803 Korean workers currently or previously exposed to lead occupationally, and 1,140 50- to 70-year old Baltimore  residents exposed to lead via the environment. They found lead build-up in the bones of all the study subjects, with greater amassed lead concentrations associated with poorer cognitive function performance. The researchers concluded that: “Our data suggest that a significant proportion of what is considered to be ‘normal’ age-related cognitive decline may, in fact, be due to past exposure to neurotoxicants such as lead.”

Dr. Klatz comments: Lead is no longer present in gasoline and house paints sold in the United States, but leaded products may be available in other nations, putting those residents at risk. Drinking water may also be a possible source of lead, as the toxin can be introduced via older plumbing. In the United States, consumers should check their dishware for the presence of lead. In some countries lead is a component of decorative paints used to embellish plates and cups; through heating and/or exposure to acidic foods (such as tomatoes and citrus fruit), the lead can leach out of the dishware and contaminate the food. Simple, do-it-yourself lead tests are available at local hardware stores. If you suspect that you have been excessively exposed to lead, ask your doctor to conduct a blood or urine toxic metal screening.

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