August 12-18, 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.
Meditation May Slow Age-Related Changes
Previously, researchers at the University of California/Los Angeles found that specific regions in the brains of people who engaged in meditation for an extended duration were larger and had more gray matter, as compared to the brains of individuals in a control group. A follow-up study suggests that people who meditate also have stronger connections between brain regions and show less age-related brain atrophy. Having stronger connections influences the ability to rapidly relay electrical signals in the brain. And significantly, these effects are evident throughout the entire brain, not just in specific areas. Eileen Luders and colleagues enrolled 27 active meditation practitioners (average age 52 years) and 27 control subjects, with each group composed of 11 men and 16 women. The number of years of meditation practice ranged from 5 to 46; self-reported meditation styles included Shamatha, Vipassana and Zazen, styles that were practiced by about 55% of the meditators, either exclusively or in combination with other styles. Engaging a method of brain imaging known as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), the team gained insights into the structural connectivity of the brain. Results showed pronounced structural connectivity in meditators throughout the entire brain’s pathways. The greatest differences between the two groups were seen within the corticospinal tract (a collection of axons that travel between the cerebral cortex of the brain and the spinal cord); the superior longitudinal fasciculus (long bi-directional bundles of neurons connecting the front and the back of the cerebrum); and the uncinate fasciculus (white matter that connects parts of the limbic system, such as the hippocampus and amygdala, with the frontal cortex). Observing that the differences between meditators and controls are not confined to a particular core region of the brain but involve large-scale networks that include the frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes and the anterior corpus callosum, as well as limbic structures and the brain stem, the team concludes that: ” Meditation might be a powerful tool to change the physical structure of the brain.”
Dr Klatz observes: In revealing that people who meditate have stronger connections between brain regions and show less age-related brain atrophy, these researchers elucidate an important natural and non-toxic approach to help maintain brain health as we age.
Too Much Sitting Is Bad for Health
A lack of physical exercise is often implicated in many disease processes. However, sedentary behaviour, or too much sitting, as distinct from too little exercise, potentially could be a new risk factor for disease. Eight papers appearing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine highlight and analyze current research on sedentary behaviour, especially the relevant behavioural science that must be better understood if such behaviours are to change over time to improve health outcomes. These reports, including especially important reviews of the problem of sedentary behaviour in children and across nearly two dozen countries, add to the growing scientific discussion about whether sedentary behaviour may be an independent risk factor for disease. The authors highlight the fact that broad-reach approaches and environmental and policy initiatives are becoming part of the sedentary behaviour and health research agenda. With the implementation of such initiatives, positive changes in sedentary time likely will result.
Remarks Dr Goldman: Clearly showing that sedentary behaviour is a distinct health risk, this meta-analysis reaffirms the life-extending benefits of physical activity and the need for focused environmental and policy initiatives to encourage an active lifestyle.
Mobile Phones May Disturb Learning
Previous studies have suggested that high-frequency non-ionizing radiation, such as that emitted by mobile phones, may exert a deleterious effect on the human body as it induces a localised warming of body tissues. Nora Prochnow, from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany, and colleagues have produced data linking extremely high-powered electromagnetic fields (EMFs) with a negative influence on learning processes on the synaptic level within the brain, independent from other factors. The team placed rats into differently powered non-thermal high frequency electromagnetic fields (HEFs) in the operating range typical of mobile phone emissions. Synaptic learning and memory formation were analyzed by electrophysiological methods. Furthermore, all animals were tested for stress hormone release immediately following the HEF exposure. Although there was daily training and effortless contact to the exposure environment, increases in blood derived stress hormone levels could be detected for all exposed groups. The team submits that this stress clearly influences learning and memory formation on the synaptic level in the rat brain. Observing that: “In the animal model, it can be demonstrated that neuronal mechanisms of synaptic learning can serve as a target for high powered EMFs,” the team urges special consideration of EMF exposures be given in special occupational situations, such as during the use of body worn antenna systems common for security services or military purposes.
Comments Dr Klatz: German scientists reveal data that suggests that mobile phone-derived electromagnetic fields negatively influence learning processes, suggesting that mobile phone users may benefit from prudent restriction of time spent on the device.
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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