September 20-26, 2013
By Dr. Ronald Klatz and 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 optimize the human aging process. Dr. Ronald Klatz, M.D., D.O., A4M President, and Dr. Robert Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., D.O., FAASP, A4M Chairman, physician co-founders of the anti-aging medical movement, distill these headlines and provide their insightful commentary.
Unhealthy Lifestyle Raises Disability Risk
Alexis Elbaz, from the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (France), and colleagues analyzed data collected in the French Three-City study, which enrolled community-living adults ages 65 and older in Dijon, Bordeaux, and Montpelier. Participants were recruited from electoral rolls in 1999, 2000, and 2001, and were free of disability at the study’s start. Subjects were interviewed to ascertain lifestyle factors when they enrolled, and disability was assessed by an in-person interview six times over 12 years. The team used three disability scales – mobility, instrumental activities of daily living, and basic activities of daily living – and constructed a hierarchical indicator of disability that combined the three. Low or intermediate physical activity, consumption of fruit and vegetables less than once a day, current smoking or having quit less than 15 years before, and either heavy or no consumption of alcohol were all considered unhealthy behaviors. The researchers collected complete data on 3,982 people who contributed 27,141 person-years in a total follow-up of 12 years; 1,236 developed a disability, for an incidence of 45.5 per 1,000 person-years. Adjusted survival analyses revealed that physical activity was associated with a 72% increase in the risk of disability. Consuming an unhealthy diet – including fruit and vegetables less than once a day – associated with a 24% increase in disability,. Current smoking or having quit less than 15 years before entering the study associated with a 26% increase in the chance of disability. Moreover, the risk of disability increased significantly with the number of unhealthy behaviors, and participants with three unhealthy behaviors had a 2.53-fold increased hazard of disability, as compared with those with none. The study investigators warn that: “An unhealthy lifestyle is associated with greater hazard of incident disability, and the hazard increases progressively with the number of unhealthy behaviors.”
Dr. Klatz observes: “Previous research has demonstrated that unhealthy behaviors raise a person’s risks of obesity, diabetes, cancer, stroke, and sudden cardiac death. French researchers confirm that limited physical activity, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, and smoking are independently associated with increased risk of disability, among older men and women.“
Tai Chi Linked to Longevity
Xianglan Zhang, from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (Tennessee, USA), and colleagues studied data collected on over 61,000 middle-aged and elderly men in Shanghai, China. Researchers tracked their health and lifestyle for more than five years: nearly 22,000 participants reported that they exercised at least once a week, and the rest were considered non-exercisers. Factoring in the men’s age, health conditions and whether they smoked, exercise was tied to a 20% lower likelihood of dying. Similarly, whereas 6.2% of the nearly 10,000 men who practiced tai chi died during the study, after adjusting for confounding factors the team found they were 20% less likely to die than men who didn’t exercise. Further, the researchers observed that men who walked regularly were 23% less likely to die during the study, and men who jogged were 27% less likely to die. The study authors write that: “The present study provides the first evidence that, like walking and jogging, practicing Tai Chi is associated with reduced mortality.”
Remarks Dr. Goldman: “A form of mind-body exercise that originated in ancient China, tai chi combines slow motion exercise and mind concentration to focus on movement. Chinese men who practiced tai chi, a form of mind-body exercise that originated in ancient China, were less likely to die over a five-year period, as compared to sedentary men.”
Modern Living Disrupts Body’s Internal Clock
Kenneth P. Wright Jr., from the University of Colorado/Boulder (Colorado, USA), and colleagues monitored eight participants for one week as they went about their normal daily lives. The participants wore wrist monitors that recorded the intensity of light they were exposed to, the timing of that light, and their activity, which allowed the researchers to infer when they were sleeping. At the end of the week, the researchers also recorded the timing of participants’ circadian clocks in the laboratory by measuring the presence of melatonin. The same metrics were recorded during and after a second week when the eight participants went camping in the Colorado woods. During the week, the campers were exposed only to sunlight and the glow of a campfire. Flashlights and personal electronic devices were not allowed. On average, participants’ biological nighttimes started about two hours later when they were exposed to electrical lights than after a week of camping. During the week when participants went about their normal lives, they also woke up before their biological night had ended. After the camping trip – when study subjects were exposed to four times the intensity of light compared with their normal lives – participants’ biological nighttimes began near sunset and ended at sunrise. They also woke up just after their biological night had ended. Becoming in synch with sunset and sunrise happened for all individuals even though the measurements from the previous week indicated that some people were prone to staying up late and others to getting up earlier. The study authors write that: “These findings have important implications for understanding how modern light exposure patterns contribute to late sleep schedules and may disrupt sleep and circadian clocks.”
Comments Dr. Klatz: “With the advent of electric lighting – as well as other conveniences of modern living – the human body receives fewer natural cues that otherwise signal the circadian rhythm, the body’s “internal clock,” to wakefulness and sleep. A week of exposure solely to natural light synchronizes the body’s circadian rhythm to the solar day.”
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 o Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.