Author: Club Director

Cell Aging Can Be Slowed by Oxidants

At high concentrations, reactive oxygen species – known as oxidants – are harmful to cells in all organisms and have been linked to ageing. But a study from the Chalmers University of Technology has now shown that low levels of the oxidant hydrogen peroxide can stimulate an enzyme that helps slow down the ageing of yeast cells.​

​One benefit of antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, is that they neutralize reactive oxygen species – known as oxidants – which may otherwise react with important molecules in the body and destroy their biological functions. Larger amounts of oxidants can cause serious damage to DNA, cell membranes and proteins for example. Our cells have therefore developed powerful defence mechanisms to get rid of these oxidants, which are formed in our normal metabolism.

It was previously believed that oxidants were only harmful, but recently we have begun to understand that they also have positive functions. Now, the new research from Chalmers University of Technology shows that the well-known oxidant hydrogen peroxide can actually slow down the ageing of yeast cells. Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical used for hair and tooth whitening, among other things. It is also one of the oxidants formed in our metabolism that is harmful at higher concentrations.

Less food gives longer life

The Chalmers researchers studied the enzyme Tsa1, which is part of a group of antioxidants called peroxiredoxins.

“Previous studies of these enzymes have shown that they participate in yeast cells’ defences against harmful oxidants,” says Mikael Molin, who leads the research group at Chalmers’ Department of Biology and Biological Engineering. “But the peroxiredoxins also help extend the life span of cells when they are subjected to calorie restriction. The mechanisms behind these functions have not yet been fully understood.”

It is already known that reduced calorie intake can significantly extend the life span of a variety of organisms, from yeast to monkeys. Several research groups, including Mikael Molin’s, have also shown that stimulation of peroxiredoxin activity, in particular, is what slows down the ageing of cells, in organisms such as yeast, flies and worms, when they receive fewer calories than normal through their food.

“Now we have found a new function of Tsa1,” says Cecilia Picazo, a postdoctoral researcher at the Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology. “Previously, we thought that this enzyme simply neutralises reactive oxygen species. But now we have shown that Tsa1 actually requires a certain amount of hydrogen peroxide to be triggered to participate in the process of slowing down the ageing of yeast cells.”

Surprisingly, the study shows that Tsa1 does not affect the levels of hydrogen peroxide in aged yeast cells. On the contrary, Tsa1 uses small amounts of hydrogen peroxide to reduce the activity of a central signalling pathway when cells are getting fewer calories. The effects of this ultimately lead to a slowdown in cell division and processes linked to the formation of the cells’ building blocks. The cells’ defences against stress are also stimulated – which causes them to age more slowly.

Could lead to drugs that mimic the positive effects of calorie restriction

“Signal pathways which are affected by calorie intake may play a central role in ageing by sensing the status of many cellular processes and controlling them,” says Mikael Molin. “By studying this, we hope to understand the molecular causes behind why the occurrence of many common diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes shows a sharp increase with age.”

The fact that researchers have now come a step closer to understanding the mechanisms behind how oxidants can actually slow down ageing could lead to new studies, for example looking for peroxiredoxin-stimulating drugs, or testing whether age-related diseases can be slowed by other drugs that enhance the positive effects of oxidants in the body.

The Chalmers researchers have shown a mechanism for how the peroxiredoxin enzyme Tsa1 directly controls a central signalling pathway. It slows down ageing by oxidizing an amino acid in another enzyme, protein kinase A, which is important for metabolic regulation. The oxidation reduces the activity of protein kinase A by destabilizing a portion of the enzyme that binds to other molecules. Thus, nutrient signalling via protein kinase A is reduced, which in turn downregulates the division of cells and stimulates their defence against stress.

Other studies have also shown that low levels of reactive oxygen species can be linked to several positive health effects. These oxidants are formed in the mitochondria, the ‘powerhouse’ of a cell, and the process, called mitohormesis, can be observed in many organisms, from yeast to mice. In mice, tumour growth is slowed by mitohormesis, while in roundworms it has been possible to link both peroxiredoxins and mitohormesis to the ability of the type 2 diabetes drug metformin to slow cellular ageing.

Read the full story.

Source: WorldHealth.net

What Makes Hard Workouts So Effective

High-intensity interval training strengthens the heart even more than moderate exercise does. Now researchers have found several answers to what makes hard workouts so effective.

“Our research on rats with heart failure shows that exercise reduces the severity of the disease, improves heart function and increases work capacity. And the intensity of the training is really importance to achieve this effect,” says Thomas Stølen, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Stølen and his colleague Morten Høydal are the main authors of a comprehensive study published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. The researchers went to great lengths to investigate what happens inside tiny heart muscle cells after regular exercise.

“We found that exercise improves important properties both in the way heart muscle cells handle calcium and in conducting electrical signals in the heart. These improvements enable the heart to beat more vigorously and can counteract life-threatening heart rhythm disorders,” says Stølen.

For a heart to be able to beat powerfully, regularly and synchronously, a lot of functions have to work together. Each time the heart beats, the sinus node – the heart’s own pacemaker – sends out electrical impulses to the rest of the heart. These electrical impulses are called action potentials. All the heart muscle cells are enclosed by a membrane. At rest, the electrical voltage on the inside of the cell membrane is negative compared to the voltage on the outside. The difference between the voltage on the outside and the inside of the cell membrane is called the resting membrane potential.

When the action potentials reach the heart muscle cells, they need to overcome the resting membrane potential of each cell to depolarize the cell wall. When this happens, calcium can flow into the cell through channels in the cell membrane.

Calcium initiates the actual contraction of the heart muscle cells. When this process is complete, calcium is transported out of the cell or back to its storage site inside each heart muscle cell. From there, the calcium is ready to contribute to a new contraction the next time an action potential comes rushing by. If the heart’s electrical conduction or calcium management system fails, the risk is that fewer heart muscle cells will contract, the contraction in each cell will be weak, and the electrical signals will become chaotic so that the heart chambers begin to flutter.

“All these processes are dysfunctional when someone has heart failure. The action potentials last too long, the resting potential of the cells is too high, and the transport function of the calcium channels in the cell wall is disturbed. Calcium then constantly leaks from its storage places inside every heart muscle cell,” Stølen says.

Before Stølen gives us the rest of the good news, he notes, “Our results show that intensive training can completely or partially reverse all these dysfunctions.”

Normally, the sinus node causes a human heart to beat between 50 and 80 beats every minute when at rest. This is enough to supply all the organ systems and cells in the body with as much oxygen-rich blood as they need to function properly.

When we get up to take a walk, our heart automatically starts beating a little faster and pumping a little harder so that the blood supply is adapted to the increased level of activity. The higher the intensity of the activity, the harder the heart has to work.

Exercise strengthens the heart so it can pump more blood out to the rest of the body with each beat. Thus, the sinus node can take it a little easier, and well-trained people have a lower resting heart rate than people who have not done regular endurance training.

At the other end of the continuum are people with heart failure. Here the pumping capacity of the heart is so weak that the organs no longer receive enough blood to maintain good functioning. People with heart failure have a low tolerance for exercise and often get out of breath with minimal effort.

In other words, increasing the pumping power to the heart is absolutely crucial for the quality of life and health of people with heart failure.

Many of the more than 100,000 Norwegians who live with heart failure have developed the condition after suffering a major heart attack – just like the rats in Stølen and Høydal’s study.

In the healthy rats, the heart pumped 75 percent of the blood with each contraction. In rats with heart failure, this measure of pump capacity, called ejection fraction, was reduced to 20 per cent, Stølen says.

The ejection fraction increased to 35 percent after six to eight weeks with almost daily interval training sessions on a treadmill. The rats did four-minute intervals at about 90 percent of their maximum capacity, quite similar to the 4 × 4 method that has been advocated by several research groups at NTNU for many years.

“The interval training also significantly improved the rats’ conditioning. After the training period, their fitness level was actually better than that of the untrained rats that hadn’t had a heart attack,” says Stølen.

Impaired calcium handling in a heart muscle cell not only causes the cell to contract with reduced force every time there is an action potential. It also causes the calcium to accumulate inside the fluid-filled area of the cell – the cytosol – where each contraction begins.

The calcium stores inside the cells are only supposed to release calcium when the heart is preparing to beat. Heart failure, however, causes a constant leakage of calcium out of these stores. After each contraction, calcium needs to be efficiently transported back into the calcium stores – or out of the heart muscle cell – via specialized pumps. In heart failure patients, these pumps work poorly.

When a lot of calcium builds up inside the cytosol, the heart muscle cells can initiate new contractions when they’re actually supposed to be at rest. An electrical gradient develops which causes the heart to send electrical signals when it shouldn’t. This can cause fibrillation in the heart chambers. This ventricular fibrillation is fatal and a common cause of cardiac arrest.

We found that interval training improves a number of mechanisms that allow calcium to be pumped out of the cells and stored more efficiently inside the cells. The leakage from the calcium stores inside the cells also stopped in the interval-trained rats,” says Stølen.

The effect was clear when the researchers tried to induce ventricular fibrillation in the diseased rat hearts: they only succeeded at this in one of nine animals that had completed interval training. By comparison, they had no problems inducing fibrillation in all the rats with heart failure who had not exercised.

Read the full story.

Source: ScienceDaily.

 

Self Tracking Is Easy and an Effective Way to Lose Weight

Being overweight or obese is associated with several risks such as developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and even mortality. Despite these well documented risks federal statistics indicate that obesity in America has increased from 35% in 2007-08 to being 40% in 2015-16 and that number is still climbing.

This doesn’t mean that Americans are not making an effort to lose weight as a report by the Boston Medical Center suggests around 45 million embark on diets every year, spending over $33 billion annually on the pursuit of dropping extra weight. The sad reality is that only a small portion of those dieters will reach their goals, as for many the process is too difficult and what they can and can’t eat proves to be too much of a struggle for them to sustain long term.

Weight loss doesn’t have to be unsustainable and an unachievable dream, research is showing that self tracking methods such as an app or diary are the most effective ways to successfully lose weight. Some may feel that self tracking is time consuming, but research from the University of Vermont has found that it can be quick and easy, taking about 15 minutes a day.

As published in the journal Obesity results were examined from 142 self tracking participants. The most successful participants spent on average 14.6 minutes per day online based on their logged in activity in the behavioral weight loss program in which they recorded calories, fat, portion sizes, and preparation methods for all food and beverages consumed; and met weekly for 14 weeks in an online group session with a trained dietician.

The most successful dieters were determined to be those that lost at least 10% of their body weight, who spent 23.2 minutes a day logged in for the first 6 months, then on average 14.6 minutes logged in afterwards. Successfulness was not revolved around how much time was spent logged in, rather it was the number of times they logged in to report what they ate.

“Those who self-monitored three or more times per day, and were consistent day after day, were the most successful, explained lead author Jean Harvey, chair of the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at the University of Vermont. “It seems to be the act of self-monitoring itself that makes the difference — not the time spent or the details included.”

The key to weight loss success may well be to start a food journal or download a self monitoring app in which to briefly, but no less than 3 times a day report the details of the food and beverages which have been consumed. 

Check the full story.

Source: WorldHealth.net

Study Links Junk Food To Age Marker In Chromosomes

According to a study recently published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, presented at an online medical conference, those who consume a lot of industrially processed junk foods are more likely to exhibit a change in their chromosome that is linked to ageing.

Scientists at the European and International Conference on Obesity reported that those who consumed three or more ultra-processed foods per day were found to have doubled their odds of their DNA and telomere proteins being shorter when compared to those from people who rarely consume such foods.

Shorter telomeres are a proven marker of biological ageing at the cellular level, this study suggests that diet is a factor in driving cells to age faster. It was noted that although the correlation is very strong, the causal relationship between consuming highly processed foods and shrinking telomeres is speculative, additional research is required.

Every human has 23 pairs of chromosomes that house our genetic code. While telomeres don’t carry any genetic information, these are the protective end caps that are vital for preserving the stability and integrity of our chromosomes, and the DNA that all the cells within the body rely on to function. With age, telomeres shorten naturally as each time a cell divides a part of the telomere is lost, and this reduction in length is recognized as a marker of biological age.

Scientists from the University of Navarra Spain wanted to investigate the suspected connection between shrinking telomeres and regular consumption of highly processed junk food. Previous studies pointed to a possible link, but the findings were inconclusive.

Ultra-processed junk foods are industrially manufactured substances that are composed of some mix of oils, fats, sugars, starch, and proteins that contain very little if any whole or natural foods. The items will typically include artificial flavourings, emulsifiers, preservatives, colourings, and other additives to increase shelf life and profit margins. But these same compounds also mean that these types of foods are very nutritionally poor compared to less-processed options.

Previous studies have shown strong correlations between ultra-processed foods and obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, depression, and some types of cancer. Such conditions are often age-related as they are linked to oxidative stress and inflammation which are both known to influence the length of telomeres.

In this study health data for nearly 900 people who were 55 years of age or older were involved in this study who provided DNA samples in 2008 and provided detailed data about the eating habits at that time as well as every two years after. Participants were equally divided into 4 groups depending on their consumption of ultra-processed foods from low to high.

Those in the high intake of ultra-processed foods group were found to be more likely to have a family history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, abnormal blood fats, and snacked more in between meals. This group also consumed more fats, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, sodium, cholesterols, SSBs, fast food, and processed meats while intaking fewer carbs, protein, fibre, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and other micronutrients. Those who consumed more ultra-processed foods were observed to be less likely to adhere to a Mediterranean style diet.

As the consumption of ultra-processed foods increased the likelihood of having shortened telomeres increased dramatically with each quartile above the lowest having a risk increase of 29% for the medium-low group, 40% for the medium to high group, and 82% for the high consumption of ultra-processed food group for having shortened telomeres. Consumption of ultra-processed foods was also associated with the risk of depression, hypertension, being overweight, obesity, and all-cause mortality, especially in those with low levels of physical activity.

“In this cross-sectional study of elderly Spanish subjects, we showed a robust strong association between ultra-processed food consumption and telomere length. Further research in larger longitudinal studies with baseline and repeated measures of TL is needed to confirm these observations,” concluded the authors.

Read the full story.

Source: WorldHealth.net.

Why You Should Consider Chia Seeds

Chia seeds may be small, but they are loaded with a wealth of important nutrients that can help to support a healthy and nutritious diet.

These versatile and nutritious tiny seeds are commonly ground, stirred, or sprinkled into smoothies, yogurt, pudding, salads, and oatmeal making them great for those on the go. The gel produced from the ground seeds can even be used as an egg substitute in pancakes and bake goodies.

One of the big pluses to chia seed is that although they are rich in nutrients they are very low in calories. Just two tablespoons contain 18% of the daily recommended value of calcium, 137 calories, 30% of the RDV for manganese and magnesium, as well as 27% of the RDV for phosphorus. They are also rich sources of zinc, potassium, and vitamin B, for all of these reasons, it makes them an extremely efficient source of nutrients.

To go along with the nutrient profile, chia seeds are a good source of fibre-containing 11 grams in that same 2 tablespoons. As most people don’t reach the DRV of 30 grams, adding chia seeds to your diet is a good option to help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and regulate blood sugar levels.

Those looking to up intake of anti-ageing antioxidants that can help to prevent or delay certain types of cell damage may want to consider chia seeds as well as they are a rich source of antioxidants due to the presence of chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol which are believed to help protect the heart and liver as well as having anti-ageing and anti-carcinogenic characteristics.

Those looking to add more plant-based protein to their diet may find chia seeds to be a good option as they are approximately 14% protein, and they are a complete protein containing all of the essential amino acids that are required for human nutrition including isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, histidine, and valine which help build proteins, grow muscle, and transport nutrients.

Another plus is that gram for gram chia seeds contain more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon does which has various anti-inflammatory properties and may also help to support better brain and heart health as well as improve stress response.

The rich calcium, magnesium and protein content will also help to support healthy bones which again is good news for those looking to increase intake of more plant-based options as 25 grams of chia seeds contains 157 grams of calcium which is more than the content of 100 ml of dairy milk.

Studies suggest that regular consumption of chia seeds could significantly reduce blood pressure for those with hypertension, and the rich omega-3 content can work as a blood thinner reducing overall blood pressure. The reductions can support overall heart health and may help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. It is worth noting that those taking medications should consult with their physician as very large quantities of chia seeds could potentially interact with certain blood pressure or blood sugar medications.

The body digests chia seeds slowly which will provide slow-release energy and help to keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day, while the fibre content can slow the absorption of sugar into the blood and decrease overall blood sugar levels.

Additionally, the high concentration of soluble fibre makes chia seeds expand in the stomach which can help to keep you feeling fuller for longer and reduce snacking which can help to support healthy weight loss as part of a healthy diet when combined with exercise.

Read the full story.

Source: WorldHealth.net.

AKG Supplement Promoted Healthy Aging & Longevity In Animal Study

Mice given alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) supplements were reported to be healthier as they aged, and female mice lived longer than those not given the supplement, according to the researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

“The big thing about this is that its safety profile is so good,” says the University of North Dakota aging researcher Holly Brown-Borg, who was not involved with the study. “It has potential and should be explored further, for sure.”

AKG is naturally made in both mice and human bodies, and it is already considered to be safe by regulators. It is part of the metabolic cycle that cells use to make energy from food; sometimes it is used to treat osteoporosis and kidney disease, along with some bodybuilders to bulk up.

In 2014 researchers discovered that this molecule may have an anti-ageing possibility when a study published in Nature reported that it helped to extend the lifespan of C.elegans by more than 50%; and other studies showed it improving lifespan in fruit flies.

AKG levels will gradually decline with age, as such the researchers are looking for ways to restore levels to those seen in younger years. In this study published in Cell Metabolism 18-month-old mice, which is the equivalent of around 55 human years, were given AKG as 2% of their daily feed until they died or for up to 21 months, recording all changes.

Within a few months: “They looked much blacker, shinier, and younger” than control mice, says Azar Asadi Shahmirzadi, a postdoc at the Buck Institute who did the experiments as a graduate student. Animals in the AKG group also scored on average 40% better on tests of frailty as measured by 31 physiological attributes including walking gait, grip strength hearing, and hair colour. Additionally, female mice in the AKG group lived a median of 8-20% longer than the controls. It was noted that the mice in the AKG group did not perform better in tests for heart function or treadmill endurance, and they did not test for cognitive improvement.

Female mice in the AKG group were found to produce higher levels of a molecule that fights inflammation. Although these effects on health and longevity were smaller for AKG than for some other anti-ageing compounds, some of the other compounds have had safety issues, for example, rapamycin can suppress the immune system and may promote diabetes.

The researchers plan to test AKG in human volunteers in the near future, possibly in a group of people between the ages of 45-65 to investigate whether the molecule will improve ageing-related biomarkers such as inflammation, arterial hardening, and chemical signatures on DNA that are associated with ageing.

Read the full story.

Source: WorldHealth.net.

Medicinal Herbs Found to Have Antioxidant & Anti-Tumor Effects

A study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine has revealed that medicinal plants including ginkgo biloba, jujube, ginseng, and astragalus have antioxidant and anti-tumor properties.

The mentioned medicinal plants have a history of use in traditional medicine, are commonly available, and are said to not have any adverse effects when consumed. Clinical studies have shown polysaccharides from plants to have antioxidant, anti-inflammation, cell viability promotion, immune regulation, and anti-tumor effects in disease models.

Researchers from Shenzhen Third People’s Hospital and Jinan University investigated the antioxidant and antitumor properties of the polysaccharides from these medicinal plants, and identified the signaling pathways involved in the initiation and progress of diseases that are associated with cancer and oxidative stress.

These plant polysaccharides were found to have potential to fight oxidative stress and cancer related disorders in both animal and cell models as well as in clinical cases. The polysaccharides treat oxidative stress and cancer through ROS centered pathways and transcription factor related pathways with or without further involvement of inflammatory and death receptor pathways; some may also affect tumorigenic pathways to have their antitumor roles.

A review suggesting using polysaccharides as anti-cancer agents published in Carbohydrate Polymers focusing on research within the last 5 years, proposed mechanisms of action, and anti-cancer activity compared to conventional anti-cancer drugs found them to have exhibited good anti-cancer activity across a variety of cancer cell lines that could be used as alternatives to existing chemotherapeutic cancer agents which had selective activity against tumor cells with minimal toxic side effects.

The polysaccharides in the review were isolated from plants, microorganisms, fungi, and marine sources that have been shown to act on cancer cells by inducing programmed cell death, and kills cancer cells via preventing their spread by acting on DNA damage, cell cycle arrest, disruption of mitochondrial membrane, and production of nitric oxide.

Check the full story.

Source: WorldHealt.net

Breathing Technique Can Calm You Down – Box Breathing

A simple breathing technique used by first responders and Navy SEALs in stressful and life threatening situations called box breathing can help to de-stress and calm you down in just a few minutes.

Box breathing is a form of present, deep, conscious breathing in which each exhaled breath is drawn out to last longer than the inhalation. This type of breathing signals the brain to tone down the sympathetic nervous system, which stops the adrenal glands from releasing adrenaline and other hormones responsible for the fight or flight responses to danger. Box breathing also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system that releases relaxing chemicals to counterbalance stress responses of the sympathetic nervous system.

Special forces commandos and first responders are just some of the pros who use box breathing to stay calm even in the toughest situations they may encounter, and they have vouched for its effectiveness at managing stress levels whenever hard decisions need to be made on the fly with people’s lives on the line.

Humans have two responses to danger: to either stand their ground and fight; or flee the situation for their lives. This is called fight or flight response, and it has not changed much over the course of time; it will trigger when anything stressful is encountered be it a dangerous situation or a message from a lover announcing a break up.

Fight or flight responses main purpose is to keep a human alive in the presence of deadly danger, and it exerts powerful effects on the body which can increase strength and rate of the heart beat and raise blood pressure. Such changes ensure the body will have enough energy to either run for your life or fight off an attacker.

Once stressed the body can take up to three quarters of an hour before it winds down to a normal state. Modern society seems to have an endless supply of all sorts of trigger that can work to keep a person locked in stressful states for long periods of time.

Box breathing can offer a natural way to prevent stress, and interrupt the fight or flight response that normally overrides normal functions of the mind and body. Box breathing is a deep form of breathing that triggers alpha waves linked with constructive activity in the brain that are emitted when a person experiences an inspiration.

This form of deep breathing is almost as simple as counting. Simply inhale with the diaphragm while counting to 4 and fill the lungs to maximum capacity, hold the breath for 4 and then exhale slowly to a longer count of 4.

Ensure to avoid the kind of agitated breathing that shoves the shoulders into the ears as that is shallow stress breathing and will keep the body in fight or flight mode rather than relaxing the stressed mind and body.

When filling the lungs try to expand your stomach, as filling the stomach with air opens up space in the belly for the diaphragm which will move down in order to make room for the expanding lungs.

Once the five count box breathing technique is down pat you can alter the ratio between inhalation and exhalation to trying to exhale to a longer slow count of 8. After that move to deep breathing ratios of 8:16; 10:20; 22:44; or 30:80.

One needs not to be a highly skilled professional to benefit from box breathing, everyone has stress. All you need to do is to remember to take deep calming breaths whenever you feel stressed to regain your calm within minutes. Relax, unwind, and enjoy.

Read the full story.

Source: WorldHealth.net

Any amount of running linked to significantly lower risk of early death

Any amount of running is linked to a significantly lower risk of death from any cause, finds a pooled analysis of the available evidence, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

If more people took up running – and they wouldn’t have to run far or fast – there would likely be substantial improvements in population health and longevity, conclude the researchers.

It’s not clear how good running is for staving off the risk of death from any cause and particularly from cardiovascular disease and cancer, say the researchers. Nor is it clear how much running a person needs to do to reap these potential benefits, nor whether upping the frequency, duration, and pace — in other words, increasing the ‘dose’ — might be even more advantageous.

To try and find out, the researchers systematically reviewed relevant published research, conference presentations, and doctoral theses and dissertations in a broad range of academic databases.

They looked for studies on the association between running/jogging and the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

They found 14 suitable studies, involving 232,149 people, whose health had been tracked for between 5.5 and 35 years. During this time, 25,951 of the study participants died.

When the study data were pooled, any amount of running was associated with a 27% lower risk of death from all causes for both sexes, compared with no running. It was also associated with a 30% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 23% lower risk of death from cancer.

Even small ‘doses’ – for example, once weekly or less, lasting less than 50 minutes each time, and at a speed below 6 miles (8 km) an hour, still seemed to be associated with significant health/longevity benefits.

Check the full story.

Source: ScienceDaily

Early retirement can accelerate cognitive decline

Early retirement can accelerate cognitive decline among the elderly, according to research conducted by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Plamen Nikolov, assistant professor of economics, and Alan Adelman, a doctoral student in economics, examined China’s New Rural Pension Scheme (NRPS) and the Chinese Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey (CHARLS) to determine the effects of pension benefits on individual cognition of those ages 60 or above. CHARLS, a nationally representative survey of people ages 45 and above within the Chinese population, is a sister survey of the U.S. Health and Retirement Survey and directly tests cognition with a focus on episodic memory and components of intact mental status.

With a higher life expectancy and decline in fertility in developing countries, the elderly population has become the largest demographic source in Asia and Latin America, generating an urgent need for new, sustainable pension systems. However, research suggests that these retirement plans can be detrimental, as retirement plays a significant role in explaining cognitive decline at older ages.

“Because of this large demographic boom, China introduced a formal pension program (called NRPS) in rural parts of the country. The program was introduced on the basis of an economy’s needs and capacity, in particular to alleviate poverty in old age,” said Nikolov. “In rural parts of the country, traditional family-based care for the elderly had largely broken down, without adequate formal mechanisms to take its place. For the elderly, inadequate transfers from either informal family and community transfers could severely reduce their ability to cope with illness or poor nutrition.”

The researchers discovered that there were significant negative effects of pension benefits on cognition functioning among the elderly. The largest indicator of cognitive decline was delayed recall, a measure that is widely implicated in neurobiological research as an important predictor of dementia. The pension program had more negative effects among females, and Nikolov said the results support the mental retirement hypothesis that decreased mental activity results in the worsening of cognitive skills.

“Individuals in the areas that implement the NRPS score considerably lower than individuals who live in areas that do not offer the NRPS program,” Nikolov said. “Over the almost 10 years since its implementation, the program led to a decline in cognitive performance by as high as almost a fifth of a standard deviation on the memory measures we examine.”

“For cognition among the elderly, it looks like the negative effect on social engagement far outweighed the positive effect of the program on nutrition and sleep,” said Nikolov. “Or alternatively, the kinds of things that matter and determine better health might simply be very different than the kinds of things that matter for better cognition among the elderly. Social engagement and connectedness may simply be the single most powerful factors for cognitive performance in old age.”

Check the full story.

Source: ScienceDaily