April 22-28, 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 Engagement Key Anti-Aging Principle
Rush University Medical Center (Illinois, US) researchers report that higher levels of social activity are associated with a decreased risk of becoming disabled. Bryan James and colleagues studied 954 older adults, average age 82 years, enrolled in the Rush Memory and Aging Project. At the study’s start, none of the participants had any form of disability; in subsequent years, each subject underwent yearly evaluations that included a medical history and neurological and neuropsychological tests. Social activity was measured based on a questionnaire that assessed whether, and how often, participants went to restaurants, sporting events or the teletract (off-track betting) or played bingo; went on day trips or overnight trips; did volunteer work; visited relatives or friends; participated in charitable groups ; or attended religious services. To assess disability, participants were asked whether they could perform six activities of daily living without help ( feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring and walking across a small room); they were also asked whether they could perform three tasks that require mobility and strength; and they were asked about their ability to perform what are referred to as “instrumental” activities of daily living (household management and mobility tasks, such as using the telephone, preparing meals and managing medications). The team observed a person who reported a high level of social activity was about twice as likely to remain free of a disability involving activities of daily living, compared to a person with a low level of social activity. Further, those with high social activity were about 1.5 times as likely to remain free of disability involving instrumental activities of daily living or mobility. The researchers conclude that: “Social activity is associated with a decreased risk of incident disability in activities of daily living, mobility and instrumental activities of daily living, among community-dwelling older adults.”

Dr Klatz observes: Reporting that higher levels of social activity associate with a decreased risk of becoming disabled later in life, these researchers reaffirm social engagement as an essential anti-aging principle.

Omega-3s Promote Muscle Production
Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass with aging, is a major public health concern. Previous studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids stimulate protein anabolism in animals, and might therefore be useful for the treatment of sarcopenia. However, the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on human protein metabolism is unknown. Bettina Mittendorfer, PhD, from Washington University School of Medicine, and colleagues studied 16 healthy adults, average age 71 years, and an average BMI of 25.65 kg/m2, assigning each to receive either omega-3s (providing provided a daily dose of 1.86 grams of EPA [eicosapentaenoic acid] and 1.5 grams of DHA [docosahexaenoic acid]) or corn oil (placebo) for eight weeks. At the end of the study period, the researchers found that the omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increased the rate of muscle protein synthesis associated and increased the supply of amino acids and insulin. The team concludes that: “Omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults and may be useful for the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia.”

Remarks Dr Goldman: In finding that daily supplements of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of aging-related muscle loss, this team submits a simple and effective interventive strategy to combat the problem of loss of muscle mass with aging.

Passion Flower Aids Sleep Quality
An estimated one-third of the worldwide population suffers from varying degrees of insomnia, and the use of herbal remedies as an alternative treatment for insomnia symptoms has been gaining in popularity. Passion flower (Passiflora incarnate) is a traditional folk remedy often used for anti-anxiety (anxiolytic) purposes. Russell Conduit, from Monash University in Australia, and colleagues studied 41 healthy men and women, ages 18 to 35?years. The subjects were surveyed as their health and sleeping patterns, and kept a sleep diary during the study period. All participants were given passion flower teabags (containing 2 grams of dried Passiflora incarnate) and parsley teabags (containing 2 grams dried Petroselinum crispum) from which to make tea, for one week; they consumed one cup of either the passion flower or parsley tea and completed a sleep diary for seven days. All of the subjects also completed an anxiety inventory survey on day seven of the study period, and 10 participants also underwent overnight polysomnography testing, a diagnostic procedure that records the biophysiological changes that occur during sleep, on the final night of each treatment. The team observed that when the subjects consumed passion flower tea, they reported an increase in sleep quality of around 5 percent, compared to the placebo. The researchers conclude that: “Consumption of a low dose of Passiflora incarnata, in the form of tea, yields short-term subjective sleep benefits for healthy adults with mild fluctuations in sleep quality.”

Comments Dr Klatz: Reporting that drinking a cup of passion flower tea may boost sleep quality by 5 percent, this Australian team presents a safe and effective approach to achieve nightly rejuivenative and restorative 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 endeavors and to sign-up for your free subscription to Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.

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