Despite the recent popularity of the Kindle and other e-readers, sales of printed books are increasing. In 2015, there were 571 million units sold in the United States, compared to 559 million the previous year. Reading books is a popular way of relaxing and escaping stressful thoughts, as well as passing the time. Reading can also preserve structural integrity in the brain, as people age. Now, it is believed to have the added benefit of helping us to live longer.
Becca R. Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale University of Public Health, and her colleagues, analyzed data provided by the Health and Retirement Study (a nationally representative sample of American adults, 50 years of age or older). 3,635 men and women were included in the study, and all self-reported their reading habits. For approximately 12 years, they were followed-up, and their survival was monitored. Those who read books for up to 3.5 hours weekly were 17% less likely to die over the 12 year follow-up, compared to those who did not read books. Those who read for over 3.5 hours per week were 23% less likely to die. Over the course of the 12 years, the adults who read books survived almost 2 years longer than the adults who did not read.
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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.
The 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.
In a first-of-its-kind study to link physical ability of men and women in their 50s with the likelihood of dying, Rachel Cooper, from University College London (United Kingdom) and colleagues warn that poor physical capacity in midlife may raise a person’s risk of premature death.
The team assessed data collected on 1,355 men and 1,411 women, all age 53 years when their fitness was measured, who were enrolled in the MRC National Survey of Health and Development in England, Scotland, and Wales. A visiting nurse assessed each participant’s ability to perform three physical tests. One test gauged hand grip strength, another evaluated a person’s ability to balance on one foot and the third noted the time it took the participant to stand up from a chair.
The researchers then followed the participants for the next 13 years, using information from the National Health Service register to find out which had died. They took into account other factors that could influence the risk of death, including smoking, body size and a history of illnesses such as heart and lung problems at age 53. With 177 deaths during the follow-up period, the data suggested that the participants who performed in the lowest one-fifth on the tests were almost four times as likely to die during follow-up as people who completed the tasks best. Those who couldn’t perform any of the tests were more than eight times as likely to die as the top performers.
Observing that: “Lower levels of physical capability at age 53 and inability to perform capability tests are associated with higher rates of mortality,” the study authors submit that: “Even at this relatively young age these measures identify groups of people who are less likely than others to achieve a long and healthy life.”
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“Not only is yoga excellent for flexibility, but it is also a great tool for longevity and injury prevention, as it allows for internal body awareness.” – Kyle Shewfelt
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. 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.
Using country-level data on deaths and risk factors and epidemiological models, the researchers estimate the number of deaths that could be prevented between 2010 and 2025 by reducing the burden of each of the six risk factors to globally agreed target levels – tobacco use (30% reduction and a more ambitious 50% reduction), alcohol use (10% reduction), salt intake (30% reduction), high blood pressure (25% reduction), and halting the rise in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes.
Overall, the findings suggest that meeting the targets for all six risk factors would reduce the risk of dying prematurely from the four main NCDs by 22% in men and 19% for women in 2025 compared to what they were in 2010. Worldwide, this improvement is equivalent to delaying or preventing at least 16 million deaths in people aged 30-70 years and 21 million in those aged 70 years or older over 15 years.
The authors predict that the largest benefits will come from reducing high blood pressure and tobacco use. They calculate that a more ambitious 50% reduction in prevalence of smoking by 2025, rather than the current target of 30%, would reduce the risk of dying prematurely by more than 24% in men and by 20% in women. The study investigators submit that: “If the agreed risk factor targets are met, premature mortality from the four main NCDs will decrease to levels that are close to the 25×25 target, with most of these benefits seen in low-income and middle-income countries.”
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“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” – George F. Burn
“The secret to longevity, as I see it, has less to do with diet, or even exercise, and more to do with the environment in which a person lives: social and physical. What do I mean by this? They live rewardingly inconvenient lives.” – Dan Buettner
“A man ninety years old was asked to what he attributed his longevity. I reckon, he said, with a twinkle in his eye, it because most nights I went to bed and slept when I should have sat up and worried.” – Garson Kanin