February 18-24, 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 24,000 physician and scientist members from 110 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.
Social Interactions Promote Health
Previous studies have suggested that social norms can influence health-related behaviours, such as physical activity and eating patterns. Kylie Ball, from Deakin University in Australia, and colleagues investigated the associations between clearly-defined social norms and a range of physical activity and eating behaviours amongst women, adjusting for the effects of social support. The researchers enrolled 3,610 women, ages 18 to 46 years, residing in Victoria, Australia. Via surveys, the team collected data about the subjects’ physical activity (leisure-time moderate-vigorous activity; volitional walking; cycling for transport) and eating behaviours (fast food, soft drink and fruit and vegetable consumption), and social norms and support for these. The researchers tested the extent to which a fashion for healthy behaviour among a person’s contacts could influence their own lifestyle. The women who took part in the study were asked to rate how much they agreed with statements like “I often see other people walking in my neighbourhood” and “Lots of women I know eat fast food often.” Those women who moved in healthier circles were in turn more likely to eat well and get more exercise. Suggesting that: “These data confirm theoretical accounts of the importance of social norms for physical activity and eating behaviours, and suggest that this is independent from social support,” the team concludes that: “Intervention strategies aimed at promoting physical activity and healthy eating could incorporate strategies aimed at modifying social norms relating to these behaviours.”
Dr Klatz observes: In finding that physical activity and healthy eating behavior are both strongly affected by social norms, Australian researchers reveal how peers may profoundly affect our ability to optimise health and longevity.
Exercise Combats Cognitive Decline
Recognized as a major public health concern, cognitive impairment among the aging population is characterized by frequent falls. In that previous studies have suggested a beneficial role for exercise in fall prevention, Teresa Liu-Ambrose, from the University of British Columbia in Canada, and colleagues studied the role of a strength training exercise program on cognitive function. Building on the Brain Power Study, which demonstrated that 12 months of once-weekly or twice-weekly progressive strength training improved executive cognitive function in women ages 65 to 75, the year-long follow-up study found the cognitive benefits of strength training persisted, and with two critical findings. The group that sustained cognitive benefits was the once-weekly strength training group, rather than the twice-weekly training group; the team found that the subjects engaged in once-weekly strength training were more successful at being able to maintain the same level of physical activity achieved in the original study. Secondly, the researchers found that the economic benefits of once-weekly strength training were sustained 12 months after its formal cessation. Specifically, the researchers found the once-weekly strength group incurred fewer healthcare-resource utilisation costs and had fewer falls than the twice-weekly balance and tone group.
Remarks Dr Goldman: Reporting that a regular schedule of resistance training program helps to preserve cognitive health in seniors, this Canadian research team underscores the vital role of physical activity in maintaining memory, learning and decision-making capacities as we age.
Anti-Aging Lifestyle Helps Vision
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a major cause of vision impairment among the aging population, affecting one in four people ages 65 and older. Julie A. Mares, from the University of Wisconsin, and colleagues studied the relationships between lifestyle behaviours of diet, smoking, and physical activity and the subsequent prevalence of AMD. The team analyzed data from the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study, an ancillary study associated with the Women’s Health Initiative, involving 1,313 women, ages 55 to 74 years, at the study’s start, that aimed to assess the role of carotenoid compounds in age-related eye diseases. Compared with sedentary smokers who ate lots of fatty processed foods, participants in study who engaged in healthy lifestyle habits – including regular exercise, healthy diet and not smoking – were found to have an adjusted odds ratio of 0.29 for developing AMD over a six-year span, translating to a two-thirds reduction in risk. The researchers conclude that: “Modifying lifestyles might reduce risk for early [AMD] as much as three-fold, lowering the risk for advanced AMD in a person’s lifetime and the social and economic costs of AMD to society.”
Comments Dr Klatz: Women who engage in regular exercise, enjoy a healthy diet, and do not smoke, reduce their risks of developing AMD by more than two-thirds. This is an important reminder of the wide range of health benefits afforded by following an anti-aging lifestyle.
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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