February 12-18, 2010
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 22,000 physician and scientist members from 105 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 optimise the human aging process. Dr Ronald Klatz, M.D., D.O., A4M President, and Dr Robert Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., D.O., FAASP, A4M Chairman, physician co-founders of the anti-aging medical movement, distil these headlines and provide their commentary.
Thyme Oil Calms Inflammatory Response
Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is an enzyme involved in prostaglandin biosynthesis, and plays a key role in the inflammatory response. In that essential oils, extracted from plants, have been long used for their aromatherapy, analgesic and antibacterial properties, Hiroyasu Inoue, from Nara Women’s University (Japan), and colleagues screened a wide range of commercially available essential oils to assess their anti-inflammatory properties. They identified six essential oils, namely – thyme, clove, rose, eucalyptus, fennel and bergamot – that reduced the COX-2 expression in cells by at least 25 percent. Of these, thyme oil proved the most active, reducing COX-2 levels by almost 75 percent. Upon further study, the researchers found that carvacrol, a compound present in thyme oil, was the primary active anti-inflammatory agent; when they use pure carvacrol extracts in their tests, COX-2 levels decreased by over 80 percent.
Dr Klatz observes: Japanese scientists have isolated the compound present in the essential oils from thyme that exerts a potent anti-inflammatory effect. This finding may have important future therapeutic applications for disorders and diseases involving the inflammatory pathway, from heart disease to arthritis.
Challenging Brain Benefits Cognitive Function
Previous studies have shown that completing more formal education benefits brain function as we age, with those having a college degree generally retaining cognitive skills better than those with less schooling. Margie Lachman, from Brandeis University (Massachusetts, US), and colleagues completed The Midlife in the United States study, which assessed 3,343 men and women, ages 32 and 84 years, 40 percent of whom had at least a 4-year college degree. Evaluating how the participants performed in two cognitive areas, verbal memory and executive function, the team found that those with higher education engaged in cognitive activities more often and performed better on the memory tests. Additionally, some subjects with lower education performed just as well; the researchers found that intellectual activities undertaken regularly made a difference. Specifically, among individuals with low education, those who engaged in reading, writing, attending lectures or doing word games or puzzles once or week or more had memory scores similar to people with more education. The researchers urge that: “For those with lower education, engaging frequently in cognitive activities showed significant compensatory benefits for episodic memory, which has promise for reducing social disparities in cognitive aging.”
Remarks Dr Goldman: This large-scale US nationwide study is the latest to confirm that mental exercises aid cognitive skills. It is an important reminder to each of us to engage in activities to stimulate the brain.
Packaging Chemical Raises Heart Disease Risks
Previous studies have reported associations between urinary bisphenol A (BPA) concentrations and heart disease, diabetes and liver enzymes in adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004 study. David Melzer, from Peninsula Medical School (Exeter, UK), and colleagues reviewed newer data, provided by the NHANES 2005-2006 study, finding that while urinary BPA concentrations were one third lower than in 2003-2004, higher BPA concentrations in urine samples were still associated with heart disease in 2005-2006. Additionally, associations with some liver enzymes were also present. The team urges warns that: “Higher BPA exposure, reflected in higher urinary concentrations of BPA, is consistently associated with reported heart disease in the general adult population of the USA.”
Comments Dr Klatz: This study by United Kingdom scientists is the latest to suggest a causal link between bisphenol A and increased risk of heart disease. It urges more awareness by consumers as to potential exposures to this chemical used widely in food and drink packaging.
Anti-aging medicine is the fastest-growing medical specialty throughout the world and is founded on the application of advanced scientific and medical technologies for the early detection, prevention, treatment and reversal of age-related dysfunction, disorders and diseases. It is a healthcare model promoting innovative science and research to prolong the healthy lifespan in humans. As such, anti-aging medicine is based on solid scientific principles of responsible medical care that are consistent with those applied in other preventive health specialties. The goal of anti-aging medicine is not to merely prolong the total years of an individual’s life, but to ensure that those years are enjoyed in a productive and vital fashion.
Visit the A4M’s World Health Network website, at www.worldhealth.net, to learn more about the A4M and its educational endeavours and to sign up for your free subscription to the Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.