October 1-7, 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.
Telomere Length Linked to Cancer Risk
Positioned as the endcaps of chromosomes, telomeres are involved in the processes of genetic replication and stability. In that critically short telomeres lead to replicative cell senescence and chromosomal instability, previous studies have suggested that telomere length is an emerging marker of biological age. To study telomeres in leukocytes, a type of blood cell, Peter Willeit, from Innsbruck Medical University (Austria), and colleagues conducted PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing of 787 men and women enrolled in the Bruneck Study in Italy, each of whom were cancer-free in 1995 at the study’s start. The team followed the subjects for 10 years, tracking cancer incidence and mortality. Analysis indicated that short telomere length at the beginning of the study was associated with new cancer independently of standard cancer risk factors. Compared with participants in the longest telomere length group, participants in the middle length group had about twice the risk of cancer, and those in the shortest length group had approximately three times the risk. Cancer incidence rates were inversely related to telomere length, with participants in the group with the shortest telomere length having the highest rate of cancer. The team notes that short telomere length was also associated with a higher rate of death from cancer, and conclude that: “there was a statistically significant inverse relationship between telomere length and both cancer incidence and mortality.”
Dr Klatz observes: An Austrian team finds that shorter length of leukocyte telomeres are associated with an increased risk of cancer and death from cancer. This is an important discovery that furthers our scientific knowledge regarding the relationship between telomeres and biological aging.
Obesity May Worsen Memory
In that overweight/obesity has previously been linked to increased risks of cognitive decline and dementia in older people, Diana R. Kerwin, from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Illinois, USA), and colleagues studied 8,745 postmenopausal women, ages 65 to 79 years, who were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative. All subjects were free of dementia, as assessed by the 100-point standardized Modified Mini-Mental Status Examination, at the study’s start. After adjusting for confounding factors, the team found that for every one-point increase in a woman’s BMI, her memory score dropped by one point. In addition, women who carried weight around the hips (“pear-shaped”) experienced more memory and brain function deterioration than women storing fat around the chest and abdomen (“apple-shaped”). The team posits the difference may be due to cytokines, hormones released by the predominant kind of fat in the body that can cause inflammation and likely affect cognition, that release differently based on the type of fat and location of deposits on the body. The team concludes that: “Higher [body mass index] was associated with poorer cognitive function in women with smaller [waist-to-hip ratio]. Higher [waist-to-hip ratio], estimating central fat mass, was associated with higher cognitive function in this cross-sectional study.”
Remarks Dr Goldman: In finding that among older women, excess weight is associated with poorer brain function, with differing effects based on where fat is stored, these researchers reaffirm the intricate connection between physical weight and mental performance.
Fibre Slashes Heart Disease Risk
Previous studies have suggested that dietary fibre protects against coronary heart disease. Ehab S. Eshak, from Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine (Japan), and colleagues examined the association between dietary fibre intake and deaths due to cardiovascular disease in a group of 58,730 Japanese men and women, ages 40 to 79 years. Subjects completed a dietary questionnaire, and the team measured fibre and nutrient intake levels. The incidence of cardiovascular-related deaths was tracked, during the 14-year study. The team found that those men and women consuming the most fibre (14 grams per day) were 18 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared to those consuming the least (6.8 grams per day). With regard to coronary heart disease, the men who consumed the most fruit fibre were 58 percent less likely to die, and women 45 percent less likely. Noting that: “For fibre sources, intakes of fruit and cereal fibres but not vegetable fibre were inversely associated with risk of mortality from [coronary heart disease],” the researchers conclude that: “Dietary intakes of fibre, both insoluble and soluble fibres, and especially fruit and cereal fibres, may reduce risk of mortality from [coronary heart disease].”
Comments Dr Klatz: This large-scale Japanese study finds that higher intakes of soluble and insoluble dietary fibres may reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, adding to the growing body of evidence suggesting a functional health role for dietary fibre in the daily diet.
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.
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