July 9-15, 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 Robert Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., D.O., FAASP, A4M Chairman, and Dr Ronald Klatz, M.D., D.O., A4M President, physician co-founders of the anti-aging medical movement, distil these headlines and provide their commentary.

Unhealthy Behaviours Shorten Lifespan
In that the individual parameters of physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking and excess alcohol consumption have been shown to associate with increased risks of death, Elisabeth Kvaavik, from University of Oslo, and colleagues examined the individual and combined influence of these risk factors on total and cause-specific mortality.  Studying 4,886 residents of the United Kingdom, 18 years of age and older, the team calculated a health behaviour score, which accounted for poor behaviours (physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking and excess alcohol consumption) for each subject, then followed them for an average of 20 years. The researchers found that all-cause mortality risk rose 85 percent for individuals with any one of the risky health behaviours. Most importantly, those who engaged in all four activities raised their mortality risk by nearly 3.5 times, equating to prematurely ageing a person 12 years in terms of death risk. The team urges that: “The combined effect of poor health behaviours on mortality was substantial, indicating that modest, but sustained, improvements to diet and lifestyle could have significant public health benefits.”

Dr. Klatz observes: In finding that physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking and excess alcohol consumption, individually as well as in-combination, take their toll on longevity, this Norwegian research team reinforces the notion that modifiable factors impact how long and well each of us can live. Healthy behaviours can indeed promote a longer and healthier life.

Vitamin D Aids Mobility, Independence
In that Vitamin D insufficiency is common among older adults and may play a role in physical function, Denise K. Houston, from Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and colleagues examined the link between circulating Vitamin D levels (measured as 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D)) and lower extremity function in a group of 2,788 seniors enrolled in the Health ABC Study. Over a four-year study period, the team found that those subjects with the levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D demonstrated the greatest physical performance scores, as measured by tests of gait speed and knee strength. Conversely, those with lower Vitamin D levels had poorer physical function. The researchers conclude that: “Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with lower extremity function but not with greater declines in lower extremity function over 4 years of follow-up.”

Remarks Dr. Goldman: This team’s finding that seniors with higher circulating levels of Vitamin D enjoy stronger physical functioning, particularly of the lower extremities, is an important consideration when constructing a suitable interventive regimen that promotes independent living as we age.

Dreams Reinforce New Learning
In that previous studies have established that post-learning sleep consolidates memories and thus benefits memory performance, Robert Stickgold, from Harvard Medical School, and colleagues reveal that dreaming helps us process newly learned knowledge. The team enrolled 99 study participants, asking them to play a video game involving a maze through which they were to navigate via the assistance of a three-dimensional depiction of it. After playing the game, the subjects either stayed awake for two hours or took a nap; they then played the maze game again five hours later. The team noted that four participants reported dreaming about the maze while they napped, and these subjects were among those with the greatest improvement in playing the maze game for the second time, improving 10 times as much as others who napped. Proposing that: “Dreaming about a learning experience during non-REM sleep would be associated with improved performance on a hippocampus-dependent spatial memory task,” the researchers conclude that: “These observations suggest that sleep-dependent memory consolidation in humans is facilitated by the offline reactivation of recently formed memories, and furthermore that dream experiences reflect this memory processing. That similar effects were not observed during wakefulness suggests that these mnemonic processes are specific to the sleep state.”

Comments Dr. Klatz: Rejuvenative sleep is a cornerstone of an anti-aging regimen. In finding that dreaming during sleep not only consolidates memories, but may help to process newly learned knowledge, these researchers provide further evidence as to the essentialness of sleep.

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.

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