May 6-12, 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.
Happiness Starts in Youth
While much is known about the associations between a troubled childhood and mental health problems, little research has examined the affect of a positive childhood. Marcus Richards, from the University of Cambridge, and colleagues utilized information from 2,776 individuals who participated in the 1946 British-birth cohort study, to reveal associations between having a positive childhood and well-being in adulthood. A “positive” childhood was based on teacher evaluations of students’ levels of happiness, friendship and energy at the ages of 13 and 15, with a positive point assigned for specific happy and sociable behaviours, and ratings noted for discontent or disobedient conduct. The researchers then linked these ratings to the individuals’ mental health, work experience, relationships and social activities several decades later. They found that teenagers rated positively by their teachers were significantly more likely than those who received no positive ratings to have higher levels of well-being later in life, including a higher work satisfaction, more frequent contact with family and friends, and more regular engagement in social and leisure activities. Happy children were also much less likely than others to develop mental disorders throughout their lives – 60 percent less likely than young teens that had no positive ratings. The team concludes that: “Childhood wellbeing predicts positive adult wellbeing, and not merely the absence of mental ill-health.”
Dr Klatz observes: British researchers report that positive adolescence years promote wellbeing in midlife, suggesting that behaviours and habits of our youth may have a profound impact on future health and longevity.
Sleep Pattern Boosts Learning
Sleep is an essential component of the anti-aging lifestyle, as it enables the body’s cells, tissues and organs to perform restorative functions. Matthew Walker, from the University of California/Berkeley, and colleagues have found that while we sleep, bursts of brain waves known as “sleep spindles” promote networking between key regions of the brain involved with learning. These electrical impulses help to shift fact-based memories from the brain’s hippocampus – which has limited storage space – to the prefrontal cortex’s “hard drive,” thus freeing up the hippocampus to take in fresh data. Spindles are fast pulses of electricity generated during non-REM sleep, and they can occur up to 1,000 times a night. The team found that spindle-driven networking was most likely to happen during Stage 2 of non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep, which occurs before we reach the deepest NREM sleep and the dream state known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. The researchers conclude that: “We report here a learning interaction, such that … sleep and associated NREM spindle oscillations restore efficient learning ability.”
Remarks Dr Goldman: Revealing that bursts of brain waves known as “sleep spindles” promote networking between key regions of the brain involved with learning, these scientists reaffirm the restorative role of sleep.
Cocoa Moderates Blood Pressure
Previous studies have revealed potential cardiovascular benefits of cocoa consumption and the compounds it contains. Ingrid A Persson, from Linkoping University in Sweden, and colleagues enrolled 16 subjects, ages 20 to 45 years, for a two-week study during which each subject ate 75 grams of dark chocolate (72 percent cocoa content) daily. Results showed that the activity of the antiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) – a factor in elevated blood pressure – was significantly inhibited, with a reduction of about 18 percent observed between before and after the cocoa intake. As well, the team observed that the degree of ACE inhibition was dependent upon the genotype of the human subjects, with significant inhibition of ACE activity seen after three hours in subjects with genotype insertion/insertion and deletion/deletion (mean 21 and 28 percent, respectively).
Comments Dr Klatz: Confirming that polyphenol compounds in cocoa help to reduce elevated blood pressure, Swedish researchers add to the growing body of evidence suggesting a potentially important functional health role for this food.
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.