October 8-14, 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.

Variety Improves Brain Function
Instead of focusing on a single task that engages the same part of the brain repeatedly, try to vary the types of skills you use. Carolee J. Winstein, from University of Southern California, and colleagues have found that doing so engages different parts of the brain and improves its performance. The team studied 59 men and women, one group of whom practiced a challenging arm movement, while the other group completed the arm movement and performed additional tasks in a variable practice structure. The participants in the variable practice group learned the arm movement better than those who practiced only the arm movement. Further, among those in the variable practice group, the process of consolidating memory of the skill engaged the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is associated with higher level planning. Among those who practiced only the arm movement, the engaged part of the brain was the primary motor cortex, which is associated with simple motor learning, the authors explained. The researchers conclude that: “Neural substrates of motor-memory consolidation are modulated by practice structure.” 

Dr Klatz observes: Varying the skills used on an everyday basis engages different parts of the brain and improves its performance. This finding urges the recommendation to diversity one’s daily routines and their execution.

Low Vitamin D May Lead to Cognitive Decline
Previous studies have suggested that Vitamin D protects against cognitive decline, and public health experts estimate that upwards of 40 percent of older adults are deficient in the vitamin. David J. Llewellyn, from the University of Exeter, and colleagues studied 858 adults, ages 65 years and older, to examine the association between Vitamin D and cognitive decline or dementia. The team measured blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D), and conducted cognitive assessments, every three years for a six-year study period.  Participants were classified as “severely deficient” if the 25(OH)D level was less than 25 nanomoles per liter, as “deficient” if levels were at least 25 but below 50 nanomoles per liter, as “insufficient” if it was at least 50 but less than 75 nanomoles per liter, and as “sufficient” if it was 75 nanomoles per liter or higher. “Severe vitamin D deficiency” was found to be associated with a 60-percent increase in the risk of substantial cognitive decline. Writing that: “Low levels of vitamin D were associated with substantial cognitive decline in the elderly population studied over a 6-year period,” the researchers urge that their findings “raise important new possibilities for treatment and prevention.” 

Remarks Dr Goldman: British researchers reveal a correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of cognitive decline among older people, suggesting new avenues for natural therapeutics for the condition.

Chili Peppers Slash Blood Pressure 
In that previous studies have suggested a role for plant compounds in lowering cardiovascular risks including hypertension (high blood pressure), Zhiming Zhu, from the Third Military Medical University in China, and colleagues completed a study examining the effects of long-term treatment with capsaicin on high blood pressure in a laboratory animal model. The team found that long-term dietary consumption of capsaicin, the active compound in chili peppers that lends the vegetable’s spiciness, reduced blood pressure in genetically hypertensive rats. The effects were resultant from a chronic activation of the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channel found in the lining of blood vessels, whereby activation of the channel leads to an increase in production of nitric oxide, a gaseous molecule known to protect blood vessels against inflammation and dysfunction. Writing that: “We conclude that TRPV1 activation by dietary capsaicin improves endothelial function.” The researchers submit that: [This mechanism] “may represent a promising target for therapeutic intervention of hypertension.”

Comments Dr. Klatz: In finding that capsaicin can beneficially impact the cellular channels involved in blood pressure, these researchers reveal a novel pathway by which hypertension may be addressed.

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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