March 9-15, 2012

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.

Positive Attitude Encourages Good Health
Maintaining a daily positive affect – engaging in a mild, happy self-affirming attitude – helps people with chronic diseases to make better decisions about their health. Mary E. Charlson, from Weill Cornell Medical College, and colleagues completed three studies involving 756 patients in randomized controlled trials that show that people can use positive affect and self-affirmation to help them make and sustain behaviour change. The same intervention was used in all three studies. Patients were encouraged to think of small things in their lives that make them feel good (such as seeing a beautiful sunset) when they get up in the morning and throughout their day. Patients were also asked to use self-affirmation to help them overcome obstacles to their plan by recalling moments in their lives they are proud of, such as a major personal accomplishment. The behaviour changes employed in the studies are known to be beneficial – ranging from increased physical activity for coronary artery disease to a managed medication regimen for high blood pressure or asthma. Subjects were randomly assigned either to the experimental “positive affect” group or to a control group. Both groups made personal contracts to adhere to their behaviour plans, were given an educational guide on the importance of their intervention, and received phone calls every two months to check in on their progress. Along with daily use of positive affect, patients in the experimental group received surprise gifts prior to the phone sessions. Results were measured at the completion of the yearlong studies. For coronary artery disease, 55 percent of patients practicing the positive affect/self-affirmations increased their physical activity, as compared with 37 percent in the control group; the positive affect group walked an average of 3.4 miles a week more than the control group. For high blood pressure, 42 percent of the positive affirmation group adhered to their medication plan, compared with 36 percent in the control group. For asthma patients, there was no difference in energy expenditure between the two groups; however, there was some benefit for patients requiring medical care during the trial.

Dr Klatz observes: In revealing that going about your day happy and self-affirmed helps to promote making good health decisions, this study reaffirms the health benefits of a positive attitude.

Swimming Lowers Blood Pressure
A low-impact form of physical activity, swimming is often suggested as a good way for older men and women to exercise. Hirofumi Tanaka, from the University of Texas, and colleagues studied 43 men and women, average age of 60 years, with high blood pressure or pre-hypertension but were otherwise healthy at the study’s start, with an average systolic blood pressure of 131 mm Hg. For 12 weeks, each subject engaged in either supervised swimming sessions – three or four times a week, gradually working their way up to 45 minutes of swimming at a time, or learned relaxation exercises. At the end of the study period, the swimmers lowered their systolic blood pressure by an average of 9 points. No change was observed in the relaxation group. The researchers also tracked blood pressure change over a 24-hour period: on average, the swimming group had a 24-hour systolic blood pressure of 119 mm Hg — down from 128 mm Hg at the study’s start. The study authors conclude that: “swimming exercise elicits hypotensive effects and improvements in vascular function in previously sedentary older adults.”

Remarks Dr Goldman: Reporting that older men and women who swim regularly lower their systolic blood pressure, these researchers elucidate a key health-enhancing benefit of this low-impact form of exercise.

Garlic Reduces Severity of Colds, Flu
Among the most widespread illnesses in the world, the common cold is estimated to be responsible for US$20 billion per year in lost worker productivity. Susan S. Percival , from the University of Florida, and colleagues enrolled 120 healthy subjects, average age 26 years, and randomly assigned each to receive either a daily supplement of aged garlic extract (2.56 g), or placebo, for 90 days. The team observed that the number of NK cells and gamma-delta T cells, two important types of immune cells, increased moreso in the garlic-supplemented group, as compared to those in the placebo group. As well, the numbers symptoms of cold and influenza were reduced by 21 percent, and the number of workdays missed due to illness was cut by 58 percent, among those who consumed the garlic extract. The study authors conclude that: “These results suggest that supplementation of the diet with aged garlic extract may enhance immune cell function and that this may be responsible, in part, for reduced severity of colds and flu.”

Comments Dr Klatz: Consuming aged garlic extract helps to reduce the number of symptoms of colds and influenza, and reduces the number of workdays missed due to illness as well. This study adds to the body of evidence suggesting the functional health benefits of 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 endeavours and to sign-up for your free subscription to Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.

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