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 22,000 physician and scientist members from 105 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 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, distil these headlines and provide their commentary.
Optimism May Enhance Immune Function
In that previous studies have suggested that people who are optimistic about their health tend to have better health, Suzanne C. Segerstrom, from the University of Kentucky, and colleagues investigated the nature and mechanisms of how optimism potentially exerts this effect. The team enrolled 124 first-year law school students. Assessing them at five times over six months, each subject was surveyed as to their levels of optimism and injected with a substance to summon an immune response; two days later, the subjects returned to have the injection site measured. The researchers considered a larger bump in the skin to imply a stronger immune response, thereby a marker of cell-mediated immunity. The team concluded that: “Changes in optimism correlated with changes in [cell-mediated immunity]. Likewise, changes in optimism predicted changes in positive and, to a lesser degree, negative affect, but the relationship between optimism and immunity was partially accounted for only by positive affect. This dynamic relationship between expectancies and immunity has positive implications for psychological interventions to improve health, particularly those that increase positive affect.”
Dr. Klatz observes: In finding that people with optimistic attitudes may have a stronger positive immune response, these researchers advance the important health-promoting imperative of maintaining one’s good nature as one ages.
Exploring Secrets of Super-Sharp Memory
Challenging the idea that brain changes linked to mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease are an inevitable part of aging, researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois have found that in people who retain mental faculties into their 80s and beyond, the brain is absent of tangles characteristic of Alzheimer’s. Following participants enrolled in the Northwestern University Super-Aging Project, Changiz Geula and colleagues have discovered that elderly people with super-sharp memory, so-called “super-aged” individuals, have escaped the age-related formation of brain tangles, abnormal proteins that damage and kill neurons. Observing that: “The numbers of phosphorylated tau-positive tangles in the … super-aged were over four-fold lower (as compared to non-demented elderly),” the team comments that: “chemistry is one of the keys to understanding what makes these tangles form. By understanding the specific anatomic, pathological, genetic and molecular characteristics of high-performing brains, we may eventually be able to protect normal brains from age-related memory loss.”
Remarks Dr. Goldman: In people who retain mental faculties into their 80s and beyond, these researchers find that the brain is absent of tangles characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, advancing the notion that one can indeed age with minimal deleterious effects to cognitive function.
Chocolate Slashes Blood Pressure
Flavanols are a type of antioxidant compound found in high concentrations in dark chocolate. Brian Buijsse, from the German Institute of Human Nutrition, and colleagues studied 19,357 people, ages 35 to 65 years, enrolled in the Potsdam arm of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study. Following the subjects for at least 10 years, the team found that those who ate the most amount of chocolate – an average of 7.5 grams a day – had lower blood pressure and a 39-percent lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke, as compared to those who ate the least amount of chocolate – an average of 1.7 grams a day. Noting that the difference between the two groups amounted to six grams of chocolate, or the equivalent of less than one small square of a 100g bar, the researchers explain that: “To put it in terms of absolute risk, if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate … increased their chocolate intake by six grams a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about 10 years.” They conclude that: “Chocolate consumption appears to lower [cardiovascular disease] risk, in part through reducing [blood pressure].”
Comments Dr. Klatz: A large-scale German study finds that 7.5 grams of dark chocolate a day lowers blood pressure, potentially reducing risks of heart disease by up to 39 percent. It is the latest data affirming the health benefits of chocolate as a functional 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.
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