Our Body

Key Mechanisms of Cancer, Aging and Inflammation Revealed

Body.OldAge1A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, lead by Patricia Opresko, Ph.D have discovered crucial new information about telomeres, the end caps of DNA. Telomeres (repeated sequences of DNA) are shortened each time a cell divides, thus becoming smaller with age. When telomeres become too short, they send a signal to the cell to cease dividing permanently – this impairs the ability of tissues to regenerate, contributing to various age-related diseases.

In cancer cells, on the other hand, levels of the enzyme telomerase (which lengthens telomeres) are elevated. This enables them to divide indefinitely. “The new information will be useful in designing new therapies to preserve telomeres in healthy cells and ultimately help combat the effects of inflammation and aging. On the flip side, we hope to develop mechanisms to selectively deplete telomeres in cancer cells to stop them from dividing,” said Dr. Opresko.

Previous studies have shown that oxidative stress accelerates telomere shortening. Oxidative stress is a condition where free radicals build up inside the cell, causing damage. Free radicals can damage the DNA that makes up the telomeres, as well as the DNA building blocks used to extend them. Oxidative stress also plays a role in various other health conditions, including cancer and inflammation. Free radical damage, which is often caused by inflammation in the body, as well as environmental factors, is believed to build up throughout the aging process.

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Source: WorldHealth.net.

High Levels of Exercise Linked to Nine Years of Less Aging at the Cellular Level

Despite their best efforts, no scientist has ever come close to stopping humans from aging. Even anti-aging creams can’t stop Old Father Time. But new research from Brigham Young University reveals you may be able to slow one type of aging – the kind that happens inside your cells. As long as you’re willing to sweat.

“Just because you’re 40, doesn’t mean you’re 40 years old biologically,” Tucker said. “We all know people that seem younger than their actual age. The more physically active we are, the less biological aging takes place in our bodies.”

The study, published in the medical journal Preventive Medicine, finds that people who have consistently high levels of physical activity have significantly longer telomeres than those who have sedentary lifestyles, as well as those who are moderately active. Telomeres are the protein endcaps of our chromosomes. They’re like our biological clock and they’re extremely correlated with age; each time a cell replicates, we lose a tiny bit of the endcaps. Therefore, the older we get, the shorter our telomeres.

Exercise science professor Larry Tucker found adults with high physical activity levels have telomeres with a biological aging advantage of nine years over those who are sedentary, and a seven-year advantage compared to those who are moderately active. To be highly active, women had to engage in 30 minutes of jogging per day (40 minutes for men), five days a week.

“If you want to see a real difference in slowing your biological aging, it appears that a little exercise won’t cut it,” Tucker said. “You have to work out regularly at high levels.”

Although the exact mechanism for how exercise preserves telomeres is unknown, Tucker said it may be tied to inflammation and oxidative stress. Previous studies have shown telomere length is closely related to those two factors and it is known that exercise can suppress inflammation and oxidative stress over time.

“We know that regular physical activity helps to reduce mortality and prolong life, and now we know part of that advantage may be due to the preservation of telomeres,” Tucker said.

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Source: ScienceDaily

Scientists Unveil a Giant Leap for Anti-Aging

University of New South Wales, UNSW, researchers have made a discovery that could lead to a revolutionary drug that actually reverses ageing, improves DNA repair and could even help NASA get its astronauts to Mars.

In a paper published in Science today, the team identifies a critical step in the molecular process that allows cells to repair damaged DNA. Their experiments in mice suggest a treatment is possible for DNA damage from ageing and radiation. It is so promising it has attracted the attention of NASA, which believes the treatment can help its Mars mission.

While our cells have an innate capability to repair DNA damage –  which happens every time we go out into the sun, for example – their ability to do this declines as we age.

The scientists identified that the metabolite NAD+, which is naturally present in every cell of our body, has a key role as a regulator in protein-to-protein interactions that control DNA repair. Treating mice with a NAD+ precursor, or “booster,” called NMN improved their cells’ ability to repair DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or old age. “The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice, after just one week of treatment,” said lead author Professor David Sinclair of UNSW School of Medical Sciences and Harvard Medical School Boston.

Human trials of NMN therapy will begin within six months. “This is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-ageing drug that’s perhaps only three to five years away from being on the market if the trials go well,” says Sinclair, who maintains a lab at UNSW in Sydney.

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Source: ScienceDaily

Benchmark Database of Lifespan-Extending Drugs Announced

Scientists from the Biogerontology Research Foundation (BGRF) and University of Liverpool have announced a landmark database of lifespan-extending drugs and compounds called DrugAge. The database has 418 compounds, curated from studies spanning 27 different model organisms including yeast, worms, flies and mice. It is the largest such database in the world at this time. Significantly, the study found that the majority of age-related pathways have not yet been targeted pharmacologically, and that the pharmacological modulation of aging has by and large focused upon a small subset of currently known age-related pathways. This suggests that there is still plenty of scope for the discovery of new lifespan-extending and healthspan-extending compounds.

Check database.

Source: Yael.

Stronger Muscles for Improved Brain Function

Workout.Female.DumbellIn Australia, a University of Sydney study has linked improved cognitive function with stronger muscles using a steady regime of weightlifting exercises. Published in the Journal of American Geriatrics, the study used a system known as SMART (Study of Mental and Resistance Training). A trial was done on a group of patients age 55 to 68, suffering MCI (mild cognitive impairment). This condition is not as serious as full-blown dementia, as people affected only have mild cognitive symptoms not severe enough to disable them from normal daily life.

The aim of the study was to measure the effects of different physical and mental activities on the human brain. Researchers examined 100 people affected by MCI. They were divided into four groups, and assigned the activities as seen below:

  • Weightlifting exercises
  • Seated stretching exercises
  • Real cognitive training on a computer
  • Placebo training on a computer

The weightlifting trial lasted for 6 months with exercising done twice a week. As the participants got stronger, they increased the amount of weight for each exercise. The exercises were done while trying to maintain 80% or greater at their peak strength.

Surprisingly, only the weight training activity demonstrated a measured improvement in brain function. The stretching exercises, cognitive training, and placebo training did not yield any results. This proved a link between muscle strength gained through physical training and the improved cognitive functions. According to Doctor Yorgi Mavros, lead author of the study, there was a clear relationship between mental functions and increased muscular strength. And the stronger the muscles got the greater the mental improvement.

Doctor Mavros is a strong advocate for encouraging resistance exercises as people start to grow older. The result could be a much healthier aging population. Mavros stressed the need for exercising at least 2-3 time per week at a high enough intensity in order to get the maximum cognitive benefits.

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Source: WorldHealth.net.

Getting Stronger to Live Longer

Workout.Female.DumbellBetween the age of 30 and 70, the average person will have lost about a quarter of their muscle strength. Half will be lost by the age of 90. As crucial as it is to promoting overall health and warding off disease, aerobic exercise alone is not enough to forestall this. Without the inclusion of strength training, muscles become progressively weaker, as well as less functional. Strength training can enable people over the age of 50 to live longer, more quality lives.

Beginning a strength training regimen takes as little as twenty minutes per session and does not require excessive stress or straining. The key is to use proper form, in a consistent manner, tackling both upper and lower body muscles. Noticeable strength gains can be realized in as little as four weeks. Methods of strength training include the use of free weights, ankle cuffs and vests, resistance bands, and exercises that employ body weight to create resistance against gravity. A slow pace starting off is important, in order to avoid injury.

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Regular Exercise Critical for Heart Health, Longevity

Workout.ExerciseDictThe majority of citizens in developed countries should not be concerned by potential harm from exercise but rather by the lack of exercise in their lives, according to a clinical perspective published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology from the ACC Sports and Exercise Cardiology Leadership Council. According to the council, small amounts of physical activity, including standing, are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but more exercise leads to even greater reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

“The evidence with regard to exercise continues to unfold and educate the cardiovascular clinical community,” said JACC Editor-in-Chief Valentin Fuster, M.D., Ph.D. “The greatest benefit is to simply exercise, regardless of the intensity, while the danger is two-fold: to not exercise at all or to exercise intensely, without due preparation.”

The council found that moderate and vigorous intensity exercise lower mortality risk in different populations around the globe. Increasing the amount of moderate intensity exercise a person engages in results in increased reductions in cardiovascular disease mortality; however, the reductions in cardiovascular mortality benefits from vigorous intensity exercise do level out at a certain point.

There is no evidence for an upper limit to exercise-induced health benefits and all amounts of both moderate and vigorous intensity exercise result in a reduction of both all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality compared to physical inactivity.

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Source: ScienceDaily, 18 January 2016.

Anti-Aging Tip Sheet: Anti-Aging Essentials

Support.Anti.Aging.PyramidThe 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. The clinical specialty of anti-aging medicine utilizes diagnostic protocols that are supported by scientific evidence to arrive at an objective assessment upon which effective treatment is assigned. Physicians who dispense anti-aging medical care are concerned with the restoration of optimal functioning of the human body’s systems, organs, tissues, and cells.

Potentially 37 million premature deaths over 15 years may be prevented, simply if people modulated six specific modifiable risk factors. Various countries aim to reduce premature mortality from four main non-communicable diseases (NCDs), namely – cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers, and diabetes. These nations have targeted to reduce these disease incidences by 25% from 2010 levels by 2025. Potentially 37 million premature deaths over 15 years may be prevented, simply if nations adopt the anti-aging medical model. Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London (United Kingdom), and colleagues report that this target may be achievable by the reduction of six specific modifiable risk factors.

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Swedish Diagnostic Method for Alzheimer’s Becomes International Standard

Body.Disease.Alzheimer1Researchers at Gothenburg University have developed a reference method for standardized measurements that diagnose Alzheimer’s disease decades before symptoms appear. The method has now formally been classified as the international reference method, which means that it will be used as the standard in Alzheimer’s diagnostics worldwide.

Everyone naturally builds the beta amyloid protein in his or her brain. The protein’s normal function is not completely mapped, but one theory is that it participates in the formation and removal of synapses, which is vital in enabling the brain to form new memories.

Remain in the brain

Beta amyloid built by healthy people is quickly transported out to the spinal fluid and blood. But with Alzheimer’s, the beta amyloids remain in the brain, where they clump together and begin to damage the synapses, which leads to brain, nerve cell death.

This process can begin in middle age and continue unnoticed for decades until the nerve cells are so damaged that symptoms take the form of a memory disorder and impaired cognitive abilities. At that point, the disease is felt to be too advanced to be treated, so intensive worldwide research is underway to find methods that diagnose Alzheimer’s sooner.

Exact measure

After decades of research, Henrik Zetterberg and Kaj Blennow at Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, were able to develop a method that measures the exact amount of beta amyloid in spinal fluid and diagnose Alzheimer’s ten to thirty years before the disease becomes symptomatic.

“If the concentration of beta amyloid in the spinal fluid is abnormally low, it indicates that the protein is sticking in the brain, which is the earliest sign of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Henrik Zetterberg.

Global reference

The Gothenburg researchers’ pioneering studies have gained wide international recognition since the measurement method they developed was approved as the global reference method.

“This means that the method will be used as the norm for standardizing beta amyloid measurements around the world. With the help of the standard, people who are worried about Alzheimer’s disease can be tested, and get the same results regardless of whether it is done in San Francisco, Sao Paolo, London, Gothenburg or Cape town,” says Kaj Blennow.

“We put a lot of effort into this project and it has been initiated and conducted, and now completed by us at Gothenburg within the framework of a global cooperation project that we head,” says Henrik Zetterberg.

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Source: University of Gothenburg. “Swedish diagnostic method for Alzheimer’s becomes international standard.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2015.

Does Exercise Slow the Aging Process?

Workout.Exercise.Dict2Almost any amount and type of physical activity may slow aging deep within our cells, a new study finds. And middle age may be a critical time to get the process rolling, at least by one common measure of cell aging.

Dating a cell’s age is tricky, because its biological and chronological ages rarely match. A cell could be relatively young in terms of how long it has existed but function slowly or erratically, as if elderly.

Today, many scientists have begun determining a cell’s biological age – meaning how well it functions and not how old it literally is – by measuring the length of its telomeres.

For those of us who don’t know every portion of our cells’ interiors, telomeres are tiny caps found on the end of DNA strands, like plastic aglets on shoelaces. They are believed to protect the DNA from damage during cell division and replication. As a cell ages, its telomeres naturally shorten and fray. But the process can be accelerated by obesity, smoking, insomnia, diabetes and other aspects of health and lifestyle.

A new study, which was published this month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers from the University of Mississippi and University of California, San Francisco, decided to look broadly at the interactions of exercise and telomeres.

Their results show that risk declined more substantially if someone exercised more. People who reported two types of exercise per week were 24 percent less likely to have short telomeres; three types of exercise were 29 percent less likely; and those who had participated in all four types of activities were 59 percent less likely to have very short telomeres.

Interestingly, these associations were strongest among people between the ages of 40 and 65, the researchers found, suggesting that middle age may be a key time to begin or maintain an exercise program if you wish to keep telomeres from shrinking, says Paul Loprinzi, an assistant professor of health and exercise science at the University of Mississippi.

The message seems clear, Dr. Loprinzi says. “Exercise is good” for your cells, and “more exercise in greater variety” is likely to be even better.

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Source: the New York Times.