December 16-22, 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.
Giving Confers Two-Way Health Benefits
Providing support to a loved one offers benefits to the giver, not just the recipient, reveals a brain-imaging study by University of California/Los Angeles scientists. Naomi Eisenberger and colleagues studied 20 young heterosexual couples in good relationships: the 20 women in the couples underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans while their boyfriends were just outside the scanner receiving painful electric shocks. At times, the women could provide support by holding the arm of their boyfriends, while at other times they had to watch their boyfriends receive shocks without being able to provide support (each woman instead held a squeeze-ball). At still other times, the boyfriends did not receive a shock, and the women could either touch or not touch them. The researchers found that when women gave support to their boyfriends in pain, the women showed increased activity in reward-related regions of the brain, including the ventral striatum and septal area. In addition, the more reward-related neural activity these women showed, the more connected they reported feeling with their boyfriends while providing support. Under conditions in which no support was provided, these regions showed decreased activity. Finding that the women who showed greater activity in the septal area also showed less activity in the amygdale, the team speculates that support-giving may have stress-reducing effects for the person who provides the support.
Dr Klatz observes: Reporting data from brain-imaging studies, these researchers provide objective data that confirms previous research that finds that providing support to a loved one confers health benefits to the giver as well as the recipient.
Active Lifestyle Reduces Depression Risk
Previous studies have reported an inverse association between physical activity and depression. Michel Lucas, from Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues studied data collected on 49,821 US women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study, all of whom did not experience symptoms of depression in 1996. Surveying for physical activity a total of five times during the study period, and following subjects for 10 years to assess for clinical depression, the team found that women who reported exercising the most in recent years were about 20 percent less likely to get depression compared to those who rarely exercised. As well, the more hours the subjects spent watching TV each week, the more their risk of depression rose. The researchers warn that: “Analyses simultaneously considering [physical activity] and television watching suggested that both contributed independently to depression risk.”
Remarks Dr Goldman: Finding that older women who get more exercise and watch less television time are less likely to be diagnosed with depression, this team reaffirms the health-promoting benefits of an active lifestyle.
Spices May Exert Neuroprotective Effects
Neurodegenerative diseases are a group of progressive neurological disorders that damage or destroy the function of neurons, and include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumour and meningitis. It is interesting to note that the incidence of neurodegenerative diseases among people living in the Asian subcontinent is much lower than in North America. Thus, some researchers posit the influence of lifestyle factors; for example, those residing in the Asian subcontinent regularly consume spices. Bharat Bhushan Aggarwal, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and colleagues submit that extensive research over the last 10 years indicates that nutraceuticals derived from such spices as turmeric, red pepper, black pepper, liquorice, clove, ginger, garlic, coriander and cinnamon target inflammatory pathways and thereby may prevent neurodegenerative diseases.
Comments Dr Klatz: This research team advances the intriguing notion that the kitchen spice rack may contain non-drug therapies for progressive neurological disorders that damage or destroy the function of neurons.
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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