Apr
20
2019

Some Reasons For Variations In Cancer Rates

It can be confusing to see that various countries have big differences in cancer rates, but here I am giving some reasons for variations in cancer rates.

The following countries have high cancer rates: Denmark, France, Belgium, United States, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia.

These countries have low cancer rates: Niger, Yemen, Oman, Nepal, Mauritania, Gambia, Cape VerSe, Bhutan. These are only samples; it is not a complete list.

Short life expectancy in many low cancer rate countries

People in many low cancer rate countries do not live long lives because of parasitic infestations, bacterial infections and AIDS. Life expectancy in Gambia, for instance is only 61.15 years. People in Yemen suffer from malnutrition and the life expectancy is only 64.95 years. One can make an argument therefore that people do not live long enough to get a lot of cancer. Cancer is a disease of the older population, as DNA mutations, shorter telomeres, and loss of mitochondria in older cells cause many cancers.

These three countries have various cancer rates

Low cancer rates in India

India is one of the countries with lower cancer rates when compared to the US. Scientists have pointed out that 40% of Indians are consuming vegetarian diets without meat; (red meat consumed in high amounts like in the US is carcinogenic). India has some of the highest spice consumption in the world. We know that curcumin, for instance, has cancer-preventing qualities. You could say that Indians inadvertently treat themselves with herbal, non-toxic chemotherapy (curcumin and others spices) before a cancer even occurs. On the other hand India is a nation with high consumption of refined sugar, which is a factor that can cause cancer over a long period of time. The life expectancy in India is only 68.56 years, which skews the statistics towards lower cancer rates when one compares India to countries with a life expectancy of 80.0 years.

Why is Denmark a high cancer rate country?

The biggest factors are a reliable cancer reporting system, but also a high smoking rate among Danish women and high alcohol consumption in the Danish population. See below what these factors do.

Why is Oman a low cancer rate country?

A study done in Oman showed that a lot of people do not know that certain risk factors could be changed to lower the present cancer incidence. Cigarette smoking, passive smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, reduced intake of fruit and vegetables, increased consumption of red meat and processed meats, infection with HPV, being overweight, less physical activity and an age above 70 are all risk factors for cancer. At the present time Oman still compares favorably with the US, as there is less obesity in Oman. But the average person still eats fairly healthy with an emphasis on fruit and vegetables.

Increasing cancer rates in Oman

The cigarette consumption per year per person in Oman is 271.1 versus 1016.6 in the US. The life expectancy has increased from 50.47 in 1970 to 77.03 in 2016. Oman is expecting the cancer rate to double by the year 2030 due to the increasing life expectancy and lifestyle factors (more drinking, smoking and gaining weight from junk food). A lot of the differences in the cancer rates between the US and Oman are simply due to lifestyle differences. 

Cancer risk factors analyzed

What do the various cancer risks mean in terms of cancer development?

Cigarette smoking

About 480,000 premature deaths are caused by cigarette smoking in the US. This is due to a combination of cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Smoking causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, rectum, but also acute myeloid leukemia.

Passive smoking

Passive smoking is as bad, if not worse than smoking. This reference explains that a passive smoker has double exposure to cigarette smoke, namely to the smoke from the smoker, but also to the direct smoke from the burning cigarette. This means that a passive smoker may have exposure to a higher concentration of carcinogens than the smoker!

Excessive alcohol consumption

Heavy alcohol consumption introduces a cell poison into your body. If you drink more than 8 drinks per week as a woman or more than 15 drinks per week as a man, you are a heavy drinker. It leads to cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, colon, liver, breast and prostate. The data on prostate cancer is somewhat weaker.

Reduced intake of fruit and vegetables

Consumption of fruits and vegetables, but also foods high in fibre are known to reduce the risk of cancer. This is why the WHO brought out this fact sheet. So, when you lower the intake of fruits and vegetables, you have less of a cancer protective effect, which leads to more cancer.

Increased consumption of red meat and processed meats

Another big factor about cancer causation is when you eat foods that contain known carcinogens. Such cancer causing substances are contained in red meat, processed meat like sausages, and salt-preserved foods.

Infection with HPV

Type 16 and 18 HPV virus is the cause of cervical cancer, penile cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, anal cancer, vulvar and vaginal cancer. It can be of concern for all sexually active people.

Being overweight

When a person gets overweight or obese, there is more estrogen production from the fat cells that circulate in your blood.  There is also more insulin production and IGF-1 production, which is a growth factor for cancer cells. Estrogen dominance due to estrogen production from fat cells with a relative lack of cancer-controlling progesterone tips the balance towards cancer development. These are the cancers that are common in obesity: breast (in women past menopause), colon and rectum, endometrium (lining of the uterus), esophagus, kidneys and pancreas.

Less physical activity

Breast cancer and colon cancer are reduced when people exercise regularly. This seems to be because of a reduction in circulating estrogen in women and because of reduced insulin and insulin-like growth factors. Even prostate cancer can be kept at bay with a regular brisk walk.

An age above 70

The medium age for cancer diagnosis is 66 years. This means that half of the cases are below this age, the other half above it.  25% of new cancer cases are diagnosed in the age group of 65 to 74. Age is an independent, but important risk factor for the development of cancer.

Sugar and starchy food consumption

Refined sugar and starchy foods lead to an accumulation of fat. At the same time there is a metabolic change with more insulin production and growth factors appear in the blood. It is these growth factors and an increase in estrogen (via aromatase) from the fat cells that lead to conditions that favor cancer development. Switch to a low-glycemic diet like a Mediterranean diet, and you can reverse this process.

Some Reasons For Variations In Cancer Rates

Some Reasons For Variations In Cancer Rates

Conclusion

It is never too late to reduce your cancer risk. No matter how old we are, it is never too late to live healthier, which translates into a stronger immune system. We can stop smoking, or cut out drinking too much. If we keep a healthy weight and eat a healthy diet we will stop chronic inflammation in our bodies and strengthen our immune system. We need to stay away from ultraviolet light (direct sun exposure). We also need to stay active, no matter whether it is choosing to take the stairs and take daily walks, or whether we exercise regularly in a gym.

Apr
06
2019

Healthier After Age 60

Unhealthy lifestyles have staying power, so what can we do be healthier after age 60? A recent CNN article describes 10 ways how to adopt a healthier lifestyle when you get close to retirement.

The thinking is that 5 years before your retirement at 65 you should perhaps adopt a healthier lifestyle.

2017 study by Dr. King regarding lifestyles before and after retirement

Dr. Dana King was the author of a 2017 study where lifestyles before and after retirement were compared.

Seven factors were examined, namely cardiovascular factors including physical activity, healthy diet, healthy weight, smoking status, total cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure. Retirees were more likely to have poorly controlled blood pressures compared to non-retirees. 23.9% of retirees had uncontrolled blood pressure versus 15.1% of non-retirees. This difference was statistically significant. There was another significant difference with regard to physical activity. Retirees were 1.85-fold more active than non-retirees. But sadly, the other 5 of the 7 points did not significantly improve. There were no differences in healthy weight, smoking rates, healthy diet, glucose levels or cholesterol control.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your diet

Adopt a Mediterranean diet. This is an anti-inflammatory diet that prevents hardening of the arteries. It lowers the bad LDL cholesterol and also triglycerides. It is also recommended to consume at least 2 tablespoons of olive oil per day. When you cook only with olive oil and use only olive oil and Balsamic vinegar for salads, it is relatively easy to reach or surpass the recommended 2 daily tablespoons of olive oil.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your exercise status

You have more time when you retire. The easiest to get into a routine regarding regular exercise is to get a membership in a gym. In the beginning you may want to see a trainer to show you some routine exercises on weight machines. You start the program off with 30 minutes on the treadmill. Before long you get used to the exercise routine and you feel stronger. But your system also produces much more of the protective HDL cholesterol, which is sensitive to regular exercise. If you have been physically inactive, get some input from your health care provider.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your weight

It is not exercise, but a healthy diet, which controls your weight. Having adopted a Mediterranean diet is a big first step in that direction. But it is also important to cut out sugar and starchy foods (potatoes, rice, bread, muffins, pasta etc.). This will reduce your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. On the long term you prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Healthier after age 60: how to change your smoking status

It is old knowledge that smoking cuts down on life expectancy. Better quit smoking now than later. It prevents heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and many other cancers.

Healthier after age 60: how to lower your blood pressure

Regular exercise, weight loss and quitting to smoke will all lower your blood pressure. Some people though continue to have high blood pressure. It is important to seek medical advice regarding this. People with persistent elevated blood pressure need medication to have this controlled in order to avoid getting a hemorrhagic stroke.

Healthier after age 60: how to lower your glucose levels

The diet I described will help you to control your blood sugars. Your doctor can order a hemoglobin A1C, which summarizes your average blood sugars over the past 3 months. Controlling your blood sugar is important to prevent type 2 diabetes. Diabetes reduces your life expectancy significantly. The risks are heart attacks, strokes, blindness, leg amputations, kidney damage and cancers.

Healthier after age 60: how to lower your cholesterol

When I discussed a healthy diet, I indicted that it lowers the LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. This reduces the risk of hardening of the arteries. A regular exercise program increases the protective HDL cholesterol, which reinforces the protection from heart attacks and strokes.

Healthier After Age 60

Healthier After Age 60

Conclusion

Whether we retire or not, we should all strife to achieve these 7 changes of lifestyle that Dr. Dana King has discussed. They were cardiovascular factors including physical activity, healthy diet, healthy weight, smoking status, total cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure. Each of these factors is important on its own. But when you tackle all of them simultaneously, there is a potentiation of these factors that allows you to get super-healthy. That’s what you want for your life after age 60. It is not too late to start! You want to be healthier after age 60!

Mar
09
2019

Live The Life That We Evolved For

A review article at CNN by a psychiatrist recommends that we live the life that we evolved for. Dr. Arash Javanbakht, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI explains that man lived on this planet only since 200,000 years. But it takes about 1 million years for evolutionary changes to take place. As a result of this we tend to still behave in our lives the way we may have reacted 10,000 years ago. It is useful to think back of us being hunters and gatherers.

Anxiety, an ancient emotion

Anxiety, for instance, is an emotion that goes far back to 10,000 years ago when humans had to be part of the tribe. If an opposite tribe was fighting them chances were high that they could get killed. Even if your own tribe did no longer like you, there was a strong possibility that you were driven out or killed. This left us with an inheritance going back many millennia of anxiety. In modern life though it is the boss who does not like something you did. It could be a deadline for a school or college project that makes us anxious or some political news. The reasons have changed, but anxiety is still there!

Live the life that we evolved for: assess what we eat

Food was very scarce 10,000 years ago. When the tribe finally caught some prey, there was a feast where fatty food, meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds were eaten. Refined sugars were not available. You did not know when the next time would come where you had ample food. Today we still behave this way: we eat what we can and eat some more. The only problem is that there is no longer the pattern of famine orfeast. Instead there is easy access to the fridge with all kinds of food. We also have access to fast food places. And we drink sodas, eat candies and other sweets. Eventually we end up fat and fatigued.

Live the life that we evolved for: which way do we move?

Our ancestors had to run and walk many miles a day to find food. They may have been attacked by wild animals and had to flee. They also needed to chase a prey for food. Constant movement was the order of the day. What are we doing today? We did not evolve to step into a car and drive to work. We also did not evolve to sit at a desk from 9AM to 5PM. In the evening we sit in front of the TV or lie on a couch eating munchies and drinking beer.

Our modern life

It is no wonder that we gain weight, that our heart and lungs do not get conditioned, and that our muscles are a pile of mush. We need to think back what our bodies were built to do. Perhaps a long walk would be healthier than sitting all the time. Some of us do not mind to visit a gym daily and build an exercise routine into the day. This mimics the activities of the hunter/gatherers and is a lot better for our bodies.

Live the life that we evolved for: sleep problems

Many people today have problems to fall asleep. The sun had 100% control of the diurnal rhythm in the past. Now we have artificial lightning, blue light from TV’s, computer screens and iPhones. We are constantly getting stimulated. In addition, the stories we read or see on TV get us excited, so that the stress hormone, cortisol is released and melatonin, the sleeping hormone gets suppressed. Taken all this together, it is not really a wonder we have problems sleeping. Relaxation methods can help us to tone down before we go to sleep. You may want to meditate, do self-hypnosis, practice some yoga or just lie still and relax, clearing your mind, and more importantly switch the TV off and put the computer on “sleep”. Sleep for you comes easier this way.

Live the life that we evolved for: our fears

10,000 years ago fear was a normal part of our lives. There were predators you had to fear. There were tribal wars where you had to fight for your survival. You had to fear starvation. The fight/flight response was a reality. Compare this to our lives now. We may fear an exam, a meeting at work or agonize what to wear for a party. We have no real existential fears unless you live in a war zone. Many people may feel that they do not have enough fear in their lives, so they get drawn to horror and mystery stories, computer games, haunted houses etc. But this is fodder for anxiety!

Live the life that we evolved for: how to feel better

When we adopt a pet, let’s say a dog, we understand that it needs food, exercise, love and sleep. But when it comes to the human animal in us, we find it hard to understand that we need that too. In fact, we need to live the life that we evolved for. We need some form of exercise all the time, because that is what we were meant to do 10,000 years ago and our bodies are still built for that. When you walk the dog, you may make new friends or even a date. If you go to the gym, you realize that your muscles work better and begin to make your body fitter. You will also feel better about yourself. You appreciate that your mood is lifting, and you feel the increased energy and strength.

Dr. Arash Javanbakht said about the bottom line:

“If we treated our body the way responsible dog owners treated their dog, we would live a much happier life.”

Live The Life That We Evolved For

Live The Life That We Evolved For

Conclusion

It takes people 1 million years for evolutionary changes. We do not change our behavior fast. Dr. Arash Javanbakht, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI compared our lives now with the lives of the hunters/gatherers in the past. People ate fatty food, meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds when a prey was hunted. But then there was an episode of fasting. People then had to walk and run all day long to catch some food again or they had to run to escape from a predator. Nowadays we use cars for transportation, use the elevator to get upstairs and walk from the table at home to the TV set. If we do not move enough and we eat the wrong foods, we do not turn fit but we turn fat.

Our modern lives

We also use LED lights from TV’s, computers, iPhones and tablets that interfere with our diurnal hormone rhythm. It is not about going back to sending smoke signals, but it is all about setting limits and when to stop and disengage from social media and the phone. Not setting limits is part of why we have problems to sleep. Stress can also be a factor of insomnia. Dr. Javanbakht says that we need to relearn how our bodies were built. We need proper nutrition without high-energy carbs. In addition we need regular exercise that will help us to relax and feel more energy. Anxieties will lift and we will feel better about ourselves.

Incoming search terms:

Mar
02
2019

Exercise For Different Age Groups

In a health article CNN reported about exercise for different age groups.

Exercise has profound positive effects on the body. First it strengthens the lungs and the heart. Secondly, it conditions your muscles. Thirdly, exercise can protect you from chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many cancers. Each age group needs different exercises, as follows.

Growing up years

During childhood exercise helps to grow healthy bones, regulate weight and build up self-confidence. In addition the child sleeps better, when exercise is part of the course of the day. Children should try out various sports. They should learn how to swim and how to handle a ball. They should also play in playgrounds together with other kids. Several studies have shown that during the teen years exercise levels decline steadily, particularly for girls. Especially during the teen years regular exercise builds a healthy body image and helps adolescents to manage stress and anxiety. Parents should encourage teens to keep one team sport regularly. For those who are not into team sports, swimming and any kind of sport is a good substitute.

Exercise for different age groups: in your twenties

In your mid twenties you are at the highest performance level in your life. You have the fastest reaction time and your heart pump capacity is the highest. Exercise physiologists measure this by an expression, called VO2 max. This value decreases each year by 1%. Your reaction time also decreases every year. The good news is that you can slow down the decline by exercising regularly for the rest of your life. If you train your body regularly during this time, your lean body mass will be preserved and your bone density will stay dense until your later years. To make it more interesting, vary your training with various sports.

If you are a regular exerciser, talk to a trainer about interval training, which intermittently pushes your exercise limit to the maximum. This type of training releases human growth hormone from your pituitary gland. The effect of this is that you increase your stamina and endurance. It also builds up lean muscle mass, decreases body fat content and provides you with more energy.

Exercise for different age groups: in your thirties

Family life and stress at the job can be a reason that you forget about exercise. But right now there is a particular need to maintain a regular exercise program. You may want to get up early, work out at a gym and go to work from there.

Some employers encourage those who work at a desk to get up every 30 minutes and have a brief exercise break for only 2 or 3 minutes. There are computer programs that show you what to do and all you have to do is copy what you see on the screen. Keep good posture while you sit. When you need a rest room break, you may decide to use the rest room downstairs. This gets you to climb some stairs and use the muscles that were resting when sitting at the desk.

As already outlined for those in the twenties, high-intensity interval training is a tool where you can exercise for only 20 minutes intensely. You do a burst of maximum exercise that brings you up to 80% of your maximum heart rate. This can be done cycling or sprinting and is alternated with low intensity exercise.

Women should do Kegel exercises (pelvic contractions) following labor to prevent incontinence.

Change exercises around to keep them interesting.

Exercise for different age groups: in your forties

This is the time when a lot of people put on extra weight. Resistance training is a way to counteract this by burning fat and preventing the loss of 3-8% of muscle mass per decade. As this link shows, 10 weeks of resistance training increases muscle mass by 3 pounds (1.4kg), increases the resting metabolic rate by 7% and decreases fat by 4 pounds (1.8kg). Exercise machines in gyms or Pilates equipment in Pilates centers will give you this type of training.

Exercise for different age groups: in your fifties

Many people develop joint aches when they are fifty and older. Also, chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and others are starting to get more frequent. In postmenopausal women, where estrogen is on the decline, heart disease is getting more common. Bioidentical hormone replacement can reverse these problems. Strength training twice a week will counter muscle loss that you would get otherwise without any regular exercises. Do weight-bearing exercises like a fast walk where you breathe a bit faster and where you break out into a sweat. This will make your bones and muscles stronger and prevent osteoporosis. Tai Chi, yoga and Pilates are all exercises suitable for this age group.

Exercise for different age groups: in your sixties

This age group is characterized by the fact that multimorbidity is getting more prevalent. People often have mental and physical illnesses. Or they have diabetes and heart disease. They often are on multiple drugs for various conditions. Aging is also a strong risk factor for developing many cancers. But regular exercise can prevent many cancers. For instance post-menopausal breast cancer, colon cancer and cancer of the womb are cancers that can be prevented to a certain extent with regular exercise. Heart disease and type 2 diabetes will also largely improve with regular exercise.

Physical exercise tends to decline in this age group for various reasons. Some reasons are obesity, various diseases that make individuals more sessile and general disability. It is important to resist this trend as much as possible. Take ballroom dance lessons and join the dancing community. Any other dance type (Latin, Bachata, Salsa, Kizomba, Argentine dancing etc.) is good exercise and enjoyable as well. It is a fun way to socialize and exercise at the same time. Aqua-aerobics is a great way to keep your joints and muscles in good shape. People with arthritis will tolerate this. Use brisk walking to maintain your cardiovascular fitness. Do strength and flexibility exercises twice per week to maintain your muscle mass and your balance.

Exercise for different age groups: in your seventies and beyond

Frailty and falls are common in the 70’s and 80’s. Many fractures are happening needlessly. Keep exercising regularly and your muscles will be strong enough to prevent falls. Walk and talk with friends instead of sitting around a table. It is good for your friends to walk as well. If you have several chronic conditions, talk to a physiotherapist or exercise professional what type of exercises you should do. You need some strength, balance and cardiovascular exercises. Enlist the help of a trainer. Sustained exercise is what benefits you most. Think of brisk walks, swimming and aqua-exercises.

Exercise For Different Age Groups

Exercise For Different Age Groups

Conclusion

We are born to stay active. Movement is life. As long as we live, we need to do regular exercise. This way a lot of chronic diseases will be prevented and even many cancers as well. I have summarized that for different age groups there are different activities that are appropriate. But the key in all age groups is to move and keep your lean muscle mass from shrinking. As explained, this will automatically make you also lose a few pounds. Strength exercises (also called resistance exercises) are the key to achieving this. When you get older, you are not exempt from exercising. Now even more than before your well being depends on exercising regularly. You want to prevent osteoporosis, falls and fractures. You want to avoid chronic diseases, heart disease and diabetes, and exercise is one valuable key to achieve this.

Incoming search terms:

Dec
22
2018

Biological Age Is Different From The Chronological Age

Biological age is different from the chronological age said professor Morgan Levine from Yale Medical School. She is working in the department of pathology. She has found in her research that people of the same chronological age have very different biological ages. From a biological standpoint they may be much younger or older than their chronological age. When people are younger than their chronological age, they have less disease and less mortality. This article has reviewed the facts.

Measuring biological age

Dr. Levine also has developed tools how to determine the biological age. And when the biological age is higher than the chronological age, she recommends lifestyle changes that will set back the biological clock. We age differently according to what we eat, how our genetic make-up is, which we cannot change, whether we are physically active and what environmental toxins we are exposed to. So, the biological age determines our health status and what our final life expectancy will be.

Biomarkers for biological age

A simple blood test that your family doctor can order consists of the following. A fasting blood sugar, kidney and liver tests, immune tests and inflammatory tests. In addition the doctor will want to know whether you are smoking or not, how much alcohol you consume and how much red meat and processed meat you eat. A computer program processes these results, which determines your biological age.

Lifestyle improvements can lower biological age

Biological age testing has a strength built in. By changing your lifestyle you can lower it. When you exercise more regularly and switch to eating a Mediterranean diet you can lower your biological age. Other studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory. A telomere test, which also determines the biological age, is fixed. It is not easily changed by dietary measures and increasing your exercise.

Dr. Levine said: “I think the most exciting thing about this research is that these things aren’t set in stone.”

Putting the biological age to the test

Dr. Levine was curious what her own biological age was. She entered her blood test data and lifestyle facts into the computer. She was surprised that her biological age was not as good as her first assumption. Now she is trying to get more sleep, has increased her exercise level and improved her diet.

Her research team is working on getting the algorithm online so that everyone will be able to put one’s blood tests and other data into the computer program and calculate the biological age. The program will also recommend what steps are likely most helpful to increase one’s health and decrease the biological age.

Lower your biological age

No one wants to live a long life, if they are in pain and have various illnesses like arthritis or Alzheimer’s. But things are different, if they can change lifestyle factors and maintain a low biological age for a long time. Now they can stay active, have no pains and are able to contribute to society.

“By delaying the onset of diseases and cognitive and physical functioning problems people can still be engaged in society,” Dr. Levine said. “I think that is the ideal we should be striving for.”

Other literature about biological age

Inflammation increases the biological age

In this publication the authors stressed that inflammation is the common denominator for developing disease and premature aging. The authors stress further that it is mandatory to change one’s lifestyle to lower the biological age and live longer.

Diastolic blood pressure predicts mortality

In an older study the diastolic blood pressure was related to mortality. The higher the diastolic blood pressure was, the higher the mortality.  The authors also noted that it was the persons with the higher biological age who were at the highest risk of dying.

Scientific study about the predictors for the biological age

Here is a scientific study that examines predictors for the biological age.  This is not easy reading, but I placed it here for completeness sake.

Link to a site that can calculate your biological age

Here is a link to a site that calculates your biological age. It is probably not as good as Dr. Levine’s computer analysis will be when it is available. However, it is a good approximation to what it will be like.

Biological Age Is Different From The Chronological Age

Biological Age Is Different From The Chronological Age

Conclusion

The dream of staying younger for longer is not new. Research has shown that we actually can do something about it. If we look after our lifestyle, don’t smoke, don’t drink excessively, eat a sensible Mediterranean-type diet and exercise regularly, our biological age will be less than our chronological age. It is the biological age that determines how old we get and whether or not we will suffer from age-related illnesses. Researchers also found out that when your biological age is younger than your actual age mortality will occur later. The math is simple. Let’s assume that your biological age is 15 to 20 years younger than your chronological age. As the average life expectancy presently is 80 years, your life expectancy can increase to 95 or 100 years.

Dec
16
2018

Can Longevity Research Make Us Age Slower?

Longevity research has done a lot of experiments, but can longevity research make us age slower?

This year an 800-page summary was published of all the longevity research that has been going on. A review of this research is in this abbreviated article.

The entire report can be found here.

In the following I like to address some of the problems of anti-aging or longevity research.

Telomere lengthening

We know that people with longer telomeres live longer than people with short telomeres. When telomeres are longer, the cells can continue to divide and function normally. When telomeres shorten there comes a point when no more cell division is possible.  At this point the cell will normally be dissolved. When it persists, there is the danger that it undergoes a malignant transformation. This can cause premature deaths. On the other hand, if enough shortened telomeres accumulate in various organs, organ failure ensues. This will also result in premature deaths.

Research in humans has shown that increased physical activity elongate telomeres. So do vitamin C, E, vitamin D3 supplementation and resveratrol. A Mediterranean diet and marine omega-3 fatty acid supplementation elongate telomeres as well. In addition higher fiber intake, bioidentical estrogen in women and testosterone replacement in men can be effective in elongating telomeres. Finally, relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation are also elongating telomeres.

Antioxidants

Many processes lead to free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that may damage cells and can cause illness and premature aging. Inflammation, the metabolism of our mitochondria, radiation exposure, industrial solvents and ozone are just some examples of what can cause free radicals in our system. If we have enough antioxidants on board, there is a balance between free radicals and antioxidants. No damage would occur then. In humans the two major antioxidants present are vitamin C and glutathione. Vitamin C comes from our food. Glutathione is produced by the liver and circulates in the blood. These two antioxidants are keeping free radicals in balance.

 

Anti-inflammatories

This Harvard site explains that even food can cause inflammation in us. For instance sugar, French fries, red meat and margarine cause free radicals. Anti-inflammatory foods are tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, berries and fruit. A Mediterranean diet has anti-inflammatory qualities. There are 6 anti-inflammatory supplements that are useful to know about: ginger, fish oil, alpha-lipoic acid, curcumin, resveratrol and spirulina. In addition to the above, vitamin D3 also has anti-inflammatory effects in higher doses.

Chronic inflammation can cause cancer down the road, so it is important to prevent this by eating sufficient amounts of anti-inflammatory foods and supplements.

Genetic repairs

Spontaneous mutations of DNA, mutations of suppressor genes, oncogene activation and insufficient DNA damage response can all lead to cancer. In the past there was the hope of using chemotherapy and radiation therapy as a means to influence the outcome of cancer treatment. A reinvestigation of this concept is ongoing.

More specific treatment modalities are under investigation. When more cancer can be prevented and when it is possible to cure more cancers longevity in the population will increase. Cancer has been one of the major killers over the years.

Metformin research

Metformin has been in use for decades to prevent and treat diabetes. But beyond this it also has anti-cancer activity, it prevents Alzheimer’s, prevents cardiovascular disease and may be the first anti-aging drug. A trial to this effect is ongoing.

It makes sense that a drug that treats and prevents diabetes would be a longevity drug at the same time. The fact that it also helps to prevent cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease also makes sense. Anytime you remove a chronic disease, life expectancy improves. As a result metformin will likely receive approval as a longevity drug soon.

Mitochondrial repair

The mitochondria are small organelles in each cell. The purpose of this structure is to provide energy. In normal cells there are hundred of these organelles in each cell. In heart muscle cells, brain cells and liver cells there are thousands of mitochondria in each cell to provide energy. Muscles, nerve cells and liver cells require more energy to function properly.

Two supplements have been in use for some time to support mitochondria function.

  1. Co-Q10. This supplement supports mitochondrial function. It prevents heart disease, together with vit. K2 and vitamin D3 and it keeps blood vessels open.
  2. Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ). This supplement can increase the number of mitochondria in a cell. It can also improve their functioning. With aging we know that we are slowly losing mitochondria. It is important to know that there is a supplement that can counter the aging effect and prevent further mitochondrial loss.
Can Longevity Research Make Us Age Slower?

Can Longevity Research Make Us Age Slower?

Conclusion

For centuries people were hoping to live longer. Nowadays this dream seems to become a reality. But it does not happen with one magic pill. The aging process involves multiple targets that need attention. The telomere length is one factor. I listed a number of items that will elongate telomeres, like regular exercise and a Mediterranean diet. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories are prolonging life as well. You want to preserve the function of your genes. Research is concentrating on improving gene repair.

Metformin has been found to prolong life. This molecule might be the first longevity drug. It has been in use to prevent and treat diabetes, but it also helps to prevent cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Two supplements help with mitochondrial repair, namely Co-Q10 and PQQ. Because life is all about energy, it is important to have well functioning mitochondria in all of your cells. When mitochondria are functioning, your body functions at its best, and you feel well.

Incoming search terms:

Dec
08
2018

Not Exercising Is More Risky For You Than Smoking

A new study showed that not exercising is more risky for you than smoking. We all know that smoking puts you at risk to get a heart attack or a stroke. It can also cause lung cancer and other cancers. So, hearing that not exercising is even more risky than smoking comes as a shocker.

The study

Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic was the senior cardiologist of this study. It was based on 122,007 patients who underwent tests using an exercise treadmill test at the Cleveland Clinic. This took place between the beginning of January 1991 and the end of December 2014. The end point in the study was all-cause mortality. The question in the study was whether exercise and fitness were lowering the risk of mortality. The result showed that 12% of the study group had the lowest exercise rate. This sedentary group had a mortality rate that was 500% higher than the top exercise performers. Compared to someone who exercises regularly the sedate group that hardly exercises still had a 390% higher death rate.

No ceiling of the benefit of exercise

What was astounding to the researchers was the fact that there was no ceiling of the benefit of exercise. The ultra fit group still had a super low mortality rate, lower than the next higher fitness group. Age did not matter either. Whether you were 40 or 80, the more you exercised, the lower your mortality rate was.

Comments about the study

Jaber said: “Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker. We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.” He went on to say: “If you compare the risk of sitting versus the highest performing on the exercise test, the risk is about three times higher than smoking.”

A sports medicine physician, Dr.Jordan Metzl who was not part of the study, said: “Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are the most expensive diseases in the United States. We spend more than $200 billion per year treating these diseases and their complications. Rather than pay huge sums for disease treatment, we should be encouraging our patients and communities to be active and exercise daily.”

Other studies showing that not exercising is associated with a high mortality rate

 

The STABILITY trial

This trial was based on 15,486 patients with heart disease and found that even 10 minutes of exercise per day reduced mortality. They compared the death rate of people engaging in 10 minutes of a brisk walk with a group who did not exercise at all. The brisk walkers had a 33% lower death rate than the group who was entirely sedentary.

A lack of exercise causes a lot of chronic diseases

This review article mentions that a number of chronic diseases were related to sedentary lifestyle. Major diseases like heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, depression and anxiety and others were clearly much more common in people who were more sedentary than those who were exercising regularly.

Poor lifestyle in general causes diseases

Lifestyle, in particular regular exercises, a healthy diet and NOT smoking has a profound positive effect on our health. In one study researchers showed that 79% of major diseases including heart attacks and strokes could be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. I reviewed this in this blog.

High blood pressure reduced by regular exercise

This 2017 study from Brazil has examined the effects of regular exercise on high blood pressure patients. They came to the conclusion that regular exercise can be as powerful as blood pressure lowering medication. Both bring down systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Even complications of previously untreated high blood pressure will be reversed with regular exercise while medication will not have this positive effect. Controlling high blood pressure with regular exercise will prevent diseases like heart attacks and strokes and the associated mortality.

Regular exercise and diet change to prevent type 2 diabetes

In this 2015 study the researchers noted that a combination of adopting a healthy diet and regular exercise could lead to weight loss. This was shown to prevent type 2 diabetes. The authors questions why such a lifestyle change was not more widely taught to people to prevent cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Not Exercising Is More Risky For You Than Smoking

Not Exercising Is More Risky For You Than Smoking

Conclusion

The medical profession knows for a long time that regular exercise is good for your health. But there always was a concern that perhaps too much exercise may be hazardous. A 2018 study from the Cleveland Clinic followed 122,007 patients for 14 years. All patients underwent an exercise treadmill test as a baseline. The end point was mortality during the 14 years of follow-up. The results made clear that there was no upper limit of exercise. Patients who were exercising the most still had a lower mortality than those who exercised less.

Sessile patients

But perhaps the most impressive result was that sessile patients who did hardly any or no exercise had the highest mortality. Their mortality was higher than that of smokers who exercised a little bit. If you want to avoid getting a heart attack, a stroke, diabetes or many types of cancer, exercise regularly, don’t smoke and eat a Mediterranean type diet. Regular exercise can reduce cardiovascular disease by 79%. And since the Cleveland study we know that more exercise is even better as the top athletes had the lowest mortality.

Incoming search terms:

Nov
17
2018

Consumption Of Organic Food Reduces Cancer Risk

There are fewer carcinogens in organic food, which is likely why consumption of organic food reduces cancer risk. In an extensive study from France a large number of patients received questionnaires about their organic food intake.

The study was also reviewed by CNN using more popular language to describe the findings.

The French study showing that consumption of organic food reduces cancer risk

68,946 French adults were recruited for the study. More than ¾ of the study population were women in their mid 40’s. Researchers divided these subjects into 4 groups depending on how many of 16 organic food groups they were consuming.

First of all, the type of foods included fruit and vegetables, ready-to-eat meals, meat and fish, vegetable oils and condiments, dietary supplements and other products. Also, the investigators followed this population for an average of 4 ½ years. Finally, during that time 1,340 cancers developed. 459 breast cancers occurred, 180 prostate cancers, 135 skin cancers, 99 colorectal cancers and 47 non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

Most noteworthy, those who ate the most organic food developed 25% less cancer on average. When it came to Hodgkin’s lymphoma, organic food consumers developed 73% less of it than people on regular food. Postmenopausal breast cancer was 21% less frequent among those who had the highest use of organic food.

There are a number of factors regarding non-organic food that should make us pause to think.

Antibiotic use in agriculture

Milk and milk products are not as innocent as in the past when no marketing boards were around. Animals are no longer freely roaming on green pastures, but they exist in high-density facilities and they need antibiotics to prevent infectious illnesses. So the story goes. In reality farmers have found out that antibiotics and bovine growth hormone will both increase milk production. The manufacturers apply the profit principle and the result is that the consumers of milk and milk products have a change of their bowel flora from the antibiotic residues, which can cause heart attacks. The bovine growth hormone from milk and milk products causes breast cancer and prostate cancer. If you buy organic milk and milk products, you will not consume bovine growth hormone or antibiotic residues.

Immune disruptors

We know for several decades that insecticides used in agriculture on a large scale are accumulating in the body of the consumer and act as immune disruptors. The farmer feels he has to defend his crop against insects and sprays with various insecticides. Among the fruit with heavy spray residues are strawberries and apples.

Heavy metals

A study of the Consumer Reports’ from August 2018 examined baby foods. High levels of heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium were detected in baby foods. Exposure to even low levels of heavy metals can lower a child’s IQ by 5 points.  Heavy metals have shown an association to behavior problems, to autism and to causing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A study from New Zealand looked at how people who were exposed 4 decades earlier to heavy metals were doing when having an average age of 38 years.  565 New Zealanders showed measurements of high levels of heavy metals as children. Their IQ’s were lower than the average for their age and their socioeconomic status was below that of their parents.

Arsenic levels also high in organic food

It seems like heavy metals were high in both non-organic and organic baby food samples. Arsenic rice comes from inadvertent, but deliberate human poisoning. The Consumers Report explains that high arsenic values showed up in rice grown in these states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas. These are the same states, where cotton plantation covered the countryside in the past. The U.S. has been the world’s leading user of arsenic. Since 1910 farmers used about 1.6 million tons for agricultural purposes. Since the mid-1960’s they used only half of this amount. Although there was a ban of arsenic use as an insecticide in the 1980’s, residues from the decades of previous arsenic use still linger on in agricultural soil today. If organic rice is grown in these 4 contaminated states, it is not unexpected that even organic rice would contain high levels of arsenic.

Rice grown in previous cotton plantation areas contaminated by arsenic

The south-central region of the US was an area where cotton was the mainstay of agriculture for a long time. This is a crop where heavy treatment with arsenical pesticides was in use for decades in an attempt to combat the boll weevil beetle.

Rice was particularly high in arsenic, both in baby food as well as in adult food. Basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan had on average half the amount of arsenic. Sushi rice from the U.S. was also low in arsenic.

Arsenic in chicken

A subsidiary of Pfizer produced the arsenic-containing drug, Roxarsone. This is an organic arsenic compound that accumulates in the liver of chickens. A synonym for Roxarsone is “3-nitro”. The full chemical name is 3-Nitro-4-hydroxyphenylarsonic acid.

When you read the fine print of the FDA website, it reveals that originally it allowed 3-Nitro® to be marketed in 1944 based on negative toxicity studies on rodents. The drug was approved again in 2009 for combination use with other drugs for suppression of coccidiosis, a cause of diarrhea in chickens. As 3-nitro is an organic arsenic compound. Researchers in the past believed that it would be non-toxic. So, the assumption was that it was safe to allow this feed supplement for chickens. It turns out that with more sensitive newer testing methods scientists from the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) examiners found that organic arsenic compound metabolize in the chicken into cancer-causing inorganic arsenic compounds.

Chicken farmers use arsenic compounds to stimulate growth and to prevent the transmission of infectious diarrhea. If you don’t want to be a victim of the industry, I suggest you switch to organic chicken. It will be arsenic-free.

The “dirty dozen”

Originally the most polluted fruit and vegetables were termed the “dirty dozen”, but now the list is longer and includes 15 of the most polluted crop. They are: apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas (imported), potatoes, hot peppers, kale, and collards.

It is common knowledge for some time that certain foods contain more pesticide residues than others. Some of these fruit and vegetables contain between 13 and 15 different pesticides from spraying. Potatoes rank on top of all of the crops with high contamination.

Why is it important to know which crop has high pesticide contamination? Pesticides are immune disruptors. On the one hand vegetables are healthy for us, on the other hand they contain residues from insecticides and herbicides that have estrogen-like activities called xenoestrogens. They are are causing breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. If you replace all of these highly contaminated fruit and vegetables with organic ones, you will have reduced your cancer risk by 25%!

GMO foods and Roundup

It is interesting that there is no law in the US and in Canada that GMO foods should have a label declaring that it is genetically modified. This is changing rapidly as people realize that in many countries of Europe all GMO foods require labeling. Here is a publication that shows that the GMO labeling campaign is gaining momentum.

Genetically modified corn and soy contains the Bt toxin; it has been found in babies as mentioned in this article. Bt toxin damages the small bowel (the ileum) through Cry1Ab (the protein produced in genetically modified corn and soy). This in turn disables the absorption of vitamin B12. We know that this in turn will cause anemia. Historically the cause of pernicious anemia was due to a lack of vitamin B12 absorption.

Effects of Roundup

In a publication dated April 2013 Drs. Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff discuss the effects of Roundup. They noticed that glyphosate inhibits the cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes in the liver. This is a crucial detoxification enzyme complex. When toxicity studies of glyphosate in mammals emerged, this was not common knowledge. The CYP enzymes in the liver are important to metabolize and eliminate estrogens and also help to detoxify xenobiotics, which are estrogen-like substances (residues from insecticides). Thus glyphosate (=”Roundup”) amplifies the damaging effect of environmental toxins and chemical residues from non-organic food that we eat. Researchers have shown a build-up of estrogens and xenoestrogens that are responsible for the development of many cancers (atypical Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer etc.). Based on this data it makes sense to switch to as much organic food as you can afford. At least stay away from the “dirty dozen”!

Changing over to organic food, as consumption of organic food reduces cancer risk

If you want to avoid Roundup, xenoestrogens and GMO foods, you need to switch from regular foods to mostly organic foods. Throw out all the foods in your fridge that are not organic and that contain MSG in it’s many disguises. MSG is an excitotoxin, which kills brain cells. These suggestions are also what Dr. Paula Baillie-Hamilton is recommending.

Organic foods do not contain any of the problematic GM foods. They are free of rBGH, xenoestrogens, residual herbicides or residual insecticides. Switch to either organic milk and milk products or goat milk and goat milk products. Another choice would be “milk” products based on pea protein, but not on soy protein. As fatty tissue releases some toxins, it is advisable to use psyllium seed husks as a fibre source supplement to bind the toxins in the gut for elimination.

Consumption Of Organic Food Reduces Cancer Risk

Consumption Of Organic Food Reduces Cancer Risk

Conclusion

A French study involved 68,946 French adults; the researchers observed them for an average of 4 ½ years. They were divided into 4 groups depending on how many of 16 organic food groups they were consuming. During that time 1,340 cancers developed. 459 breast cancers occurred, 180 prostate cancers, 135 skin cancers, 99 colorectal cancers and 47 non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Consequently, the researchers found that those who were eating the most organic foods developed 25% less cancer on average.

When it came to Hodgkin’s lymphoma, organic food consumers developed 73% less of it than people on regular food. Postmenopausal breast cancer was 21% less frequent among the highest consuming organic food group.

Switching to organic food

I explained in detail how these cancer statistics come from traces of arsenic in chicken and rice, xenoestrogens from pesticide residues in non-organic vegetables, heavy metals, GMO produce and Roundup. It is time to take food seriously and switch to organic food. I have done this since 2001. Read labels carefully. Manufacturers often use the term “natural” to give a product a virtuous gloss-over. If you find that not all fruit or vegetables are readily available as organic produce, stay away from the “dirty dozen” and make use of the “clean fifteen”. You have a good variety to choose from: sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas (as long as they are not genetically modified), asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew, kiwi fruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

Incoming search terms:

Sep
15
2018

Moderate Carb Intake Has The Lowest Mortality

A 25-year long study has shown that a moderate carb intake has the lowest mortality. A comprehensive study from the US has followed more than 15,000 men and women for 25 years. They were between 45-64 years when they entered the study and they were from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. The authors chose mortality as an end point. Dr. Sara Seidelmann is a clinical and research fellow in cardiovascular medicine from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She was the lead author of this study. The research group used food questionnaires and analyzed the carb content in the food. They also determined what percentage of the food composition was of animal origin or plant origin.

Research study finds moderate carb intake has the lowest mortality

The main findings of the study were that less than 40% of carbs in the diet led to an increased death rate with a mortality of between 1.4-fold and 1.8-fold. On the other hand, more than 70% of carbs in the diet also had increased mortality rates of 1.2-fold. The lowest mortality was in the group that consumed a diet where carbs were between 50% and 55%. Dr. Seidelmann explained that in terms of life expectancy the result of the study could be summarized as follows. A 50-year-old person had another 33 years to live when carb intake was in the moderate range. The low-carb person had only another 29 years to live (4 years less than the moderate carb person). The high-carb person lived another 32 years, 1 year less than the moderate carb person.

Plant-derived versus animal-derived fat and protein

The study showed that there was increased longevity when carbohydrates were exchanged for proteins and fats from plant sources. Mortality was 18% less for this group. Conversely, when carbs were replaced for animal-derived fat or protein mortality was 18% more!

Dr. Seidelmann noted that this study was coming from a US based population. In the case of an Asian group they would consume much more carbs on average, but they would replace a lot of the animal fat and protein with fish. Fish is a healthier source of protein and fat than beef or pork.

A moderate carb intake group that used protein and fat from animal sources was compared to plant sources. When protein and fat had the origin from lamb, beef, pork, and chicken the mortality over 25 years was higher. When protein and fat came from vegetables, such as nuts, peanut butter, seeds and whole-grain breads there was a lower mortality rate.

Other studies comparing the effect of animal protein versus plant protein

  1. A 2016 study that had gone on for 49 years was involving 131,342 participants. Animal protein intake showed an association with higher mortality from heart attacks and strokes. 3% of energy from processed red meat was now substituted by an equivalent amount of plant protein. This reduced the all-cause mortality by 34%, for unprocessed red meat by 12% and for egg by 19%.

 

  1. Red meat is cancer-producing. Several studies have shown this. When red meat is digested, cancer-causing substances are released that can be the cause of cancer in the lining of the stomach and the colon. The above link says we should limit red meat consumption to 65 grams (2oz.) per day or 2 servings (130 grams or 4 oz.) 3 to 4 times per week. We should avoid eating more than 455 grams (1 pound) of lean red meat per week.

Triglycerides are an independent risk factor for heart attacks

In this publication evidence is also present that triglycerides are an independent risk factor that can cause heart attacks.

When you eat too many carbs, the body produces the excess you don’t need into triglycerides, and it deposits its subsequently as fat in fatty tissue.  Physical activity burns up some of the triglycerides. But when we eat too much refined sugar and starchy foods, there will be an excess of triglycerides putting our blood vessels and our hearts at risk.

Regular exercise prevents disease and premature deaths

Many studies have shown that regular exercise prevents heart attacks and premature deaths. We even know the mechanism of why this is so. Exercise releases nitric oxide ((NO) from our blood vessels, which widens the arteries. This also prevents high blood pressure. Exercise elevates the protective HDL cholesterol. When regular exercisers were compared to a non-active group they had a 41% lower risk of death. All-cause hospitalizations were down by 21% and cardiac hospitalizations were down 32%.

Discussion

  1. Barry Sears is the inventor of the Zone Diet. I attended a lecture in 2001 at an Anti-Aging Conference in San Diego. Dr. Sears was the keynote speaker at this conference. He stressed that a diet with 55% of complex carbs would be the best diet. It is interesting that Dr. Seidelmann in the study mentioned in beginning of this blog found the same thing. The lowest mortality was in the group that consumed a diet where carbs were between 50% and 55%.
  2. The second point that is important to note is that it matters whether we eat protein derived from animals or from plants. Even small steps help. When we reduce our animal protein intake by only 3% of the energy intake, and replace it by plant protein, there is a significant reduction in mortality.
  3. Exercise is rarely mentioned in relation to diets. But exercise needs to be included every day and you will experience a reduction of cardiac hospitalizations of 32% as mentioned above.
Moderate Carb Intake Has The Lowest Mortality

Moderate Carb Intake Has The Lowest Mortality

Conclusion

A moderate carb intake, as is the case in the Mediterranean diet and in the Zone Diet of Barry Sears, has the lowest mortality rate. Complex carbs (in vegetables) are absorbed much slower. As a result the risk for heart attacks is much lower. The opposite is true for refined carbs from sugar. They cause heart attacks and strokes with premature mortality. Dr. Sara Seidelmann led a study at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that lasted 25 years. Less than 40% of carbs in the diet led to an increased death rate with a mortality of between 1.4-fold and 1.8-fold. These diets are paleo-type diets, the Atkins diet and the ketogenic diet. More than 70% of carbs in the diet also had increased mortality rates of 1.2-fold.

The healthiest diet

People who consumed a diet where carbs were between 50% and 55% had the lowest mortality rate (Zone Diet). Another finding of this study, which was confirmed by others is that animal-based protein is unhealthier than plant-based protein. Even replacing 3% of energy from an animal-based diet with plant-derived protein delayed mortality significantly.

If you want to live longer and stay healthy you need to critically evaluate what you eat.

Incoming search terms:

Aug
25
2018

The Downside Of Living To 100

A review article has examined longevity and reviewed the downside of living to 100. In their 80’s about 10% of the population live in nursing homes, but among centenarians 55% are residing in nursing homes. They are often very lonely, as their social circles have shrunk as they aged.

Common diseases of older people

Osteoarthritis makes it difficult for people to get around, it causes chronic pain and it can also be the reason for falls. In 1990 there were 213.4 cases of osteoarthritis per 100,000. 26 years later, in 2016 there were 232.1 cases of osteoarthritis per 100,000 people.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been falling, because less people smoke cigarettes now. Statistics show 1667 cases of COPD per 100,000 in 1990, but only 945 cases of COPD per 100,000 in 2016.

Diarrhea and common infections have dropped sharply from 8951 per 100,000 in 1990 to 3276 per 100,000 in 2016.

What other common diseases do older people get?

There are a number of common diseases that affect the elderly.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis of the hips and the knees are common, but it can affect every joint in the body. In the end stage knee replacements or hip replacements may be necessary. But before a total knee replacement or total hip replacement can even come into consideration, the person’s heart needs a thorough checkup to ensure that it is safe for the patient to undergo surgery under a general anesthetic.

Heart disease

Older people often have heart disease.

When coronary arteries are narrowed, heart attacks occur. Cardiologists can place stents, so that previously narrowed coronary arteries receive normal blood flow. Following such a procedure the patient may live for another 10 to 15 years.

There are also heart valve calcifications. The aortic valve is particularly endangered. A heart surgeon may be able to replace a diseased aortic valve by a porcine valve.

The nervous system of the heart transmits electrical signals from the sinus node to the muscle fibers, which can get diseased. Heart rhythm problems may necessitate the insertion of a pacemaker.

Finally, the heart may enlarge, but pump less blood than before. This condition is congestive heart failure. The 5-year survival for this condition is only 50.4%. Unfortunately there is very little the doctor can do for patients like this.

Cancer

The older we get, the more DNA mutations we accumulate. At one point cancer develops. If the diagnosis happens at an early stage there is a good chance that surgery can remove a cancerous growth, and the patient survives. But there are cancers that are notoriously difficult to recognize in the early stages. These are: cancer of the pancreas, kidney cancer, stomach cancer and certain types of leukemias.

Respiratory diseases

Those who smoked earlier in life may develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is a chronically disabling lung disorder. Often these individuals have to carry an oxygen tank with them wherever they go. The 5-year survival rate for people with COPD is 40 to 70%.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease where the bone is brittle. Spontaneous bone fractures can occur at the wrists, the upper thigh bone (femoral fractures) or in the vertebral bones. Women in menopause are hormone deficient and this contributes to calcium depletion of the bones. Lately research has shown that vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 are necessary for a normal calcium metabolism. Briefly, 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 and 5000 IU of vitamin D3 every day are the necessary dosage that the body can absorb calcium from the gut, eliminate it from the blood vessels and deposit it into the bone. Calcium is present in milk products and milk. If a person does not consume enough milk products a supplement of 1000 mg of calcium daily does make sense.

Alzheimer’s

The older we get, the more likely it is an onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Between the ages of 90 to 94 there is a yearly increase of Alzheimer’s of 12.7% per year. The group from age 95 to 99 years has a yearly increase of Alzheimer’s of 21.2% per year. Persons aged 100 years and older have an increase of Alzheimer’s by 40.7% per year. What this means is that essentially there is a doubling of Alzheimer’s every 5.5 years. We do not have all of the answers why this is happening and why Alzheimer’s develops. But we do know that diabetics are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. High blood sugar levels and high insulin levels seem to lead to the precipitation of the tau protein in the brain, which causes Alzheimer’s.

Diabetes

When diabetes is not well controlled, there is accelerated hardening of the arteries. This can cause heart attacks and strokes. Longstanding diabetes can affect the kidneys (diabetic nephropathy, kidney damage) and can lead to hardening of the leg arteries. Often the only treatment left is a below knee amputation. Blindness from uncontrolled diabetes is common and pain from diabetic neuropathy as well.

Diabetics have an average life expectancy of 77 to 81 years. However, if they pay attention to their blood sugars and manage their diabetes closely they can live past the age of 85.

Falls and balance problems

As people age, their balance organ is not functioning as well. Also, people with high blood pressure medication may have postural hypotensive episodes that can lead to falls.

There may be a lack of cognitive functioning and misjudging of steps, ledges and irregularities in the floor. When a person has brittle bones from osteoporosis and they fall, a hip fracture is very common. At a higher age surgery for a hip fracture is dangerous. It can have a mortality of 50%.

Obesity

A person with obesity has a life expectancy that is 10 years less than a person without obesity. The reason for this is that with obesity This is so, because the risk of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, arthritis and diabetes is increased.

Depression

Older people often get depressed. It even has its own name: involutional depression. People can get into a state of mind, where they think negatively. Depressed people feel that they have nothing to live for. They lost friends; they are shut in because they can’t drive a car any more. This type of depression needs treatment by a psychologist or psychiatrist. The danger of leaving depression untreated is that the person may get suicidal. In older people depression is often precipitated by physical health problems.

Oral health

When teeth are not looked after, gingivitis and periodontitis can develop. Infected gums can shed bacteria into the blood and this can affect the heart valves. Endocarditis, the infection of heart valves, is a cardiological emergency. Prolonged antibiotic therapy is necessary to overcome this condition.

Poverty

Poverty has real consequences. The aging person may not have access to the optimal medical care facility because of a lack of funds. But even at a younger age there is evidence that people are healthier when they are wealthier.

Shingles

Older people often get shingles, even if they had chickenpox or shingles as a child. This is evidence that the immune system is getting weaker. Shingles in an older person should alarm the treating physician that there could be an underlying cancer. Due to that knowledge a cancer-screening tests should be part of the medical exam. In addition, a varicella vaccine should be offered to the patient to build up immunity.

The Downside Of Living To 100

The Downside Of Living To 100

Conclusion

Living to 100 is often glorified in the press. Maybe you have seen a 90-year old jogger completing a marathon, or you saw an 85-year old couple ballroom dancing. But what they don’t show you is what I summarized here, the less glamorous things about living to 100. You may get a heart attack or a stroke. Osteoarthritis may affect you how you walk. Congestive heart failure may make you get short of breath when you walk upstairs. Then there are various cancer types that are difficult to diagnose early.

If you have smoked in the past, you may suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which leaves you breathless.

Other illnesses

Osteoporosis can lead to spontaneous fractures. Because the bone has a lack of calcium, this is difficult to treat and takes a long time to heal.

Alzheimer’s is ever so much more common when you approach the year 100. There are other medical conditions you can get: obesity, diabetes and depression. When you get shingles for the second time, it may mean that your immune system is getting weak and a cancer-screening test should be done.

There are some downsides when you approach the age of 100.

Know your risks and be vigilant

You may keep your physician busy checking out various age-related illnesses, but more importantly, get regular check-ups and tests. Any condition is easier to treat with an earlier diagnosis! The message for anybody reading this is very simple. Prevention through healthy living is something you can actively pursue. Keep your body and your mind busy. Enjoy time with friends and family instead of living a solitary existence. See the glass that is half full instead of viewing it as half empty. Stick to a healthy diet. Knowing all the risks is not a scare but a call to being vigilant. Knowledge is powerful and will help you to enjoy your golden years feeling well and happy.