May 14-20, 2010
By Dr Robert Goldman
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.
Thinking Young May Promote Positive Aging
Surveying almost 500 men and women, ages 55 to 74 years, about their attitudes towards aging as part of the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States. Markus H. Schafer, from Purdue University, sought to ascertain opinions regarding one’s subjective age, comparing that number to that same person’s chronological age, in an effort to determine which parameter more greatly influenced the perceptions of mental faculties in aging. In 1995, when the researchers first asked the study subjects what age they felt most of the time, the majority identified with being 12 years younger than they actually were. Writing that: “Beyond the effects of chronological age, older age identities were associated with more pessimistic dispositions about cognitive aging,” the team found that: “Age identity shapes cognitive aging dispositions … The findings give further evidence about the far-reaching implications of age identity for successful aging.”
Dr. Klatz observes: Revealing that people who feel young for their age are more confident about retaining mental faculties as they age, this survey underscores the importance of maintaining a positive attitude in aging. Doing so may very well extend how long, and/or how well, each of us lives.
Sense of Purpose Slashes Alzheimer’s Risk
Previous studies have proposed that certain psychological factors, as well as social isolation, may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Patricia A. Boyle, from Rush University Medical Center, and colleagues explored whether purpose, defined as a “psychological tendency to derive meaning from life’s experiences and to possess a sense of intentionality and goal directedness that guides behavior,” can beneficially protect against Alzheimer’s Disease. The team followed 900 community-dwelling older men and women, without dementia, enrolled in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, evaluating purpose in life and cognitive function, both at the study’s start and seven years later. The team found that those men and women who maintained a greater sense of purpose in life as they aged, had more than a 50-percent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Specifically, they found that study subjects who scored highest on the purpose in life measurement scale were 2.4-times more likely to remain free of Alzheimer’s Disease (compared to those who scored lowest). Additionally, the team found that those who developed mild cognitive impairment (MCI) reported lower purpose in life scores and had a higher number of depressive symptoms. Writing that: “This association did not vary along demographic lines” and persisted after adjusting for confounding variables, the researchers conclude that: “Greater purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk of [Alzheimer’s Disease] and [mild cognitive impairment] in community-dwelling older persons.”
Remarks Dr. Goldman: Rush University researchers find that older men and women who maintain a purpose in life are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. This finding suggests a behavioral component to Alzheimer’s risk, one that is beneficially modifiable.
Apples Promote Immune Health
Chronic inflammation, linked to medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease and more, may be accelerated as a result of consuming diets high in fat. Christina L. Sherry, from the University of Illinois, and colleagues investigated whether soluble fibre might counteract the negative health effects resulting from a high-fat diet. The team fed lab animals either a low-fat diet with soluble or insoluble fibre, and found that the animals exhibited dramatically distinct responses when their immune system was challenged: animals fed soluble fibre were found to display less sickness and a faster recovery rate. Explaining that: “Peripheral activation of the immune system by infectious agents triggers the brain–cytokine system, causing sickness behaviors which profoundly impact wellbeing,” the researchers write that: “These data show that a diet rich in soluble fibre protects against endotoxin-induced sickness behavior by … promoting alternative activation of macrophages.”
Comments Dr. Klatz: Soluble fibre, such as pectin found in apples, may confer anti-inflammatory effects and strengthen the immune system. This finding adds to mounting evidence positing the role of functional foods in health and disease.
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.