January 14-20, 2011
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.
Volunteering May Prolong Longevity
While volunteering has been shown to provide a multitude of health benefits for the volunteer, an Arizona State University team finds that older adults with functional limitations may reap life-extending benefits from volunteerism. Morris Okun and colleagues analyzed data collected from 916 community-dwelling American adults, ages 65 years and older. The researchers focused on the relationships among functional limitations (physical constraints causing difficulties with everyday tasks), volunteering and mortality. The team found that people with functional limitations benefit from volunteering in terms of longevity, compared to people without functional limitations. Noting that volunteering older people feel more useful, the researchers explain that: “Volunteering buffers the association between functional limitations and mortality. We conclude that although it may be more difficult for older adults with functional limitations to volunteer, they may receive important benefits from doing so.”
Dr Klatz observes: Revealing that adults who experience difficulties with everyday tasks may benefit from volunteering, these researchers advance the notion that feeling useful and important not only enhances quality of life, but may prolong one’s lifespan as well.
Fitness ‘Reduces Cold Odds’
In the United States, an average adult can expect to experience a cold two to four times a year, leading to costly absenteeism and decreased productivity at work. David C Nieman, from Appalachian State University, and colleagues studied data collected on 1,000 adults, 40 percent of whom were middle aged and one in four of whom was age 60-plus, whose respiratory health was tracked for 12 weeks during the autumn and winter of 2008. Subjects reported their frequency of aerobic exercise and rated their fitness levels; they were also surveyed about their lifestyle, diet and recent stressful events, as these can all affect immune system response. The researchers observed that number of days with cold symptoms varied considerably between winter and autumn, with an average of 13 days in the winter and eight days in the autumn. Being older, male and married seemed to reduce the frequency of colds, but after taking account of other influential factors, the most significant factors were perceived fitness and the amount of exercise taken. The number of days with symptoms among those who said they were physically active on five or more days of the week and felt fit was almost half (43 to 46 percent less) that of those who exercised on only one or fewer days of the week. The severity of symptoms fell by 41 percent among those who felt the fittest and by 31 percent among those who were the most active. Positing that bouts of exercise spark a temporary rise in immune system cells circulating around the body, with each bout enhancing the surveillance of harmful viruses and bacteria, the researchers conclude that: “Perceived physical fitness and frequency of aerobic exercise are important correlates of reduced days with [upper respiratory tract infections] and severity of symptoms during the winter and fall common cold seasons.”
Remarks Dr Goldman: Finding that people who are fit and active contract fewer and milder cold, these researchers affirm the primary importance of physical fitness on the immune system.
Whole Grains ‘Promote Lean Body’
Previously studies have linked higher intakes of whole grains to lower stores of abdominal fat. Nicola McKeown, from the USDA Human Nutrition Researcher Center on Aging at Tufts University, and colleagues analysed data collected in The Framingham Heart Study, examining dietary data collected on 2,834 men and women enrolled in The Framingham Heart Offspring and Third Generation study groups. The study participants, ages 32 to 83 years, underwent multidetector-computed tomography scans, to determine volumes of visceral adipose tissue (VAT), which surrounds the intra-abdominal organs, and subcutaneous adipose tissue, found just beneath the skin. Prior studies suggest that visceral fat is closely associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors including hypertension, unhealthy cholesterol levels and insulin resistance that can develop into cardiovascular disease or type-2 diabetes. When the team compared the relationship of both visceral fat tissue and subcutaneous fat tissue to whole and refined grain intake, they observed a more striking association with visceral fat. They also observed that participants who consumed, on average, three daily servings of whole grains but continued to eat many refined grains did not demonstrate lower VAT volume. The researchers conclude that: “Increasing whole-grain intake is associated with lower [visceral adipose tissue] in adults, whereas higher intakes of refined grains are associated with higher [VAT].”
Comments Dr Klatz: People who consume several servings of whole grains per day have less visceral adipose tissue, a type of fat tissue implicated in cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. This discovery underscores the importance of a healthy 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.
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.