Jun
10
2024

About Aging and a Prolonged Life

The topic “about aging and a prolonged life” is always popular with people. CNN recently discussed this topic with the Nobel prize winner and molecular biologist, Professor Venki Ramakrishnan. He shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada Yonath for research on the structure and function of ribosomes. Ribosomes are sub particles in the cell responsible for making proteins. In the following I will summarize this interview.

What is aging?

150 years ago, people lived only about to 40 years. Today we can live up to 84 years in most countries. It is because medicine has learnt a lot about the reasons why diseases occur and how they can be cured. Physicians have a number of antibiotics available for those who suffer infections. Heart bypass surgeries and stents can prolong a person’s life when there is hardening of the coronary arteries.

Aging processes

The following aging processes occur all our lives:

  • DNA breaks happen in our cells, but repair mechanisms are in place that deal with this. With older age repair mechanisms are more sluggish.
  • Faulty proteins form inside cells, however, we have mechanisms to take care of that.
  • Chemical damage to molecules in our cells accumulates. The cells can only partially eliminate these.
  • Hormone disbalances occur during menopause and andropause. But anti-aging physicians can correct this by doing hormone tests and ordering bioidentical hormone supplements.
  • There are limits of what anti-aging medicine can do: osteoarthritis affects our joints; our muscles are aging and with it our heart muscle. Degenerative neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and dementia occur frequently as we get older with no effective therapies.
  • The immune system weakens with age. To a certain extend vitamin D3 and other supplements can strengthen it, but only to a certain extent.

Systems working together in our body

Dr. Ramakrishnan said that our bodies work like cities. In it are various systems that need to work together to keep us alive. If a major system fails, we die. Some of the essential organ systems are the heart, the brain, kidneys, our gut, the lungs, the bone marrow and all our hormone glands. If one of these organs breaks down, we are in trouble. If an organ donor is not available, we perish. But even when everything is working together well, we are limited reaching a maximal lifespan of about 120 years. This has to do with limits of our cell metabolism and the aging processes mentioned above. Science has not found a way to prolong our maximal lifespan and likely will not find one soon. But there are various lifestyles that can prolong life as I mentioned here before.

Genetic effect on our lifespan

CNN asked Dr. Ramakrishnan what genetic effects there are that would transmit longevity from a parent who lived until 95 or older to a child’s lifespan. He answered the following:There is a correlation between the ages of parents and their children, but it’s not perfect. A study of 2,700 Danish twins showed that heritability — how much of our longevity is due to our genes — only accounted for about 25% of lifespan. Still, researchers have found that mutation in just a single gene can double the lifespan of a certain type of worm. Clearly there’s a genetic component, but the effects and implications are complex.”

Relationship between cancer and aging

The same genes are involved for the growth of the body at a young age, and the older person who comes down with cancer. In old age the same genes can cause cancer and dementia. Dr. Ramakrishnan said: “Our risk of cancer increases with age because we accumulate defects in our DNA and genome, which sometimes cause gene malfunctions that lead to cancer. But many of our cellular repair systems that seem to be designed to avoid cancer early in life also cause aging later.”

Apoptosis (programmed cell death) and senescent cells

The body has two mechanisms in place that counter the danger of developing cancer cells. Dr. Ramakrishnan explained: “For example, cells can sense breaks in our DNA that might allow chromosomes to join in an abnormal way, which could lead to cancer. To prevent that joining, a cell will either kill itself or enter a state called senescence, where it can no longer divide. From the perspective of an organism like us, which has trillions of cells, this makes sense. Even if millions of cells are destroyed this way, these actions protect the whole organism. But the buildup of senescent cells is one of the ways we age.”

Lifestyle changes that help you live longer

Dr. Ramakrishnan said that our grandmothers knew what a healthy lifestyle was. The following is a list of what science now confirms adds years to your life:

  • Don’t be gluttonous. Eating a variety of healthy foods in moderation can prevent the health risks of obesity.
  • Get exercise: this helps us regenerate new mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of our cells providing energy.
  • Avoid stress, which creates hormonal effects that change our metabolism and can accelerate aging.
More life prolonging points:
  • Get enough sleep. This allows our bodies to do molecular-level repair.
  • One of the newer findings is Dr. Longo’s fasting mimicking diet. Do a semi-fast once a month for 5 days with 500 to 600 calories per day. This helps you to shed 0.5 to 0.7 units of body mass index. It also stimulates your immune cells, your stem cells and elongates your telomeres. Long telomeres make you live longer.
  • Replacing missing hormones with the help of an anti-aging physician will add about 10 years to your life. I mentioned this earlier.

A few more points about longevity research

Dr. Ramakrishnan said: “Already the top 10% of income earners in both the US and the UK live more than a decade longer than the bottom 10%. If you look at health span — the number of years of healthy life — that disparity is even greater. Poorer people are living shorter, less healthy lives.” He said further about the concept of “immortality”: “I think this quest for immortality is a mirage. One hundred and fifty years ago, you could expect to live until about 40. Today, life expectancy is about 80, which, as author Steven Johnson has said, is almost like adding a whole extra life. But we’re still obsessed about dying. I think if we lived to be 150, we’d be fretting about why we’re not living to 200 or 300. It’s never-ending.”

About Aging and a Prolonged Life

About Aging and a Prolonged Life

Conclusion

CNN discussed the quest for longevity with Nobel prize winning Dr. Ramakrishnan. He pointed out that the aging process is due to a number of factors that work together. There are DNA breaks, faulty proteins, chemical damage to molecules, hormone disbalances and degenerative changes. We need to watch that we do not overeat, get regular exercise and eat a variety of healthy foods. In addition, we need to avoid stress, get enough sleep and replace missing hormones with bioidentical hormones. A newer boost to your health is the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) from Dr. Valter Longo that helps you keep your weight in the lower body mass index range. Dr. Longo showed in animal experiments and with humans that the FMD elongates telomeres, which directly prolongs life.

Apply what helps your longevity

While it is far-fetched to believe that we now have a ticket to live for 120 years or longer, it is more important to know that we can do our part to spend our golden years in health and wellness.

May
25
2024

Cancer in younger Adults is due to Accelerated Aging

Recent research showed that cancer in younger adults is due to accelerated aging. Researchers presented a paper at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2024. They discussed in detail how cancer presents in aging tissues.

Details of the study

Researchers examined the UK Biobank databases of 148,724 individuals aged 37 to 54 years. 9 biomarkers from blood of these patients served to calculate the biological age of these patients. The following were the blood tests: albumin, alkaline phosphatase, creatine, C-reactive protein, glucose, mean corpuscular volume, red cell distribution width, white blood cell count, and lymphocyte proportion. I will discuss below how they calculated the biological age from these factors. In most patients there was a discrepancy between the chronological age and the biological age.

The researchers also checked the cancer registries to check how many cancer patients were found before age 55. Nearly 3200 cancers were found. Patients born between 1950 and 1954 were compared to patients born in or after 1965. Surprisingly the younger patients (born in or after 1965) had 17% higher accelerated aging. This made this group more prone to develop early cancers.

Significance of accelerated aging regarding cancer frequency

The researchers also found that increases in accelerated aging were associated with a significant risk of early-onset lung cancer, early-onset gastrointestinal cancer, and early-onset uterine cancer. Individuals who had the highest amount of faster aging were compared to people who had the smallest amount of faster aging. The faster aging group had twice the risk of early-onset lung cancer, more than 60% higher risk of gastrointestinal tumors, and more than 80% higher risk of uterine cancer.

Calculating the biological age 

The following is a list of items to calculate the biological age (taken from this CNN source):

  • albumin: a protein made by the liver that declines with age
  • creatinine: a waste product in blood produced by protein digestion and the breakdown of muscle tissue; a measure of kidney function. Lower levels correlate with better longevity.
  • glucose: With age, blood sugar stays higher for longer after meals.
  • c-reactive protein: made by the liver in response to inflammation; relatively higher levels correspond to faster aging
  • lymphocyte percent: The concentration of these white blood cells related to immune function tends to decrease with age.

More items to calculate biological age:

  • mean cell volume: a measure of the average size of red blood cells, which increases with age
  • red cell distribution width: the difference between the size of a person’s smallest and largest red blood cells, which tends to increase with age
  • alkaline phosphatase: an enzyme produced mainly by the liver and bones that tends to increase with age
  • white blood cell counts: Numbers of white cells in the high end of the normal range in the blood may correspond with greater aging.

Using these criteria, a research group developed the algorithm PhenoAge. This is how the biological age was calculated.

What factors lower the biological age?

There are 8 essential components that determine your biological age: diet, physical activity, avoiding nicotine exposure, sleep health, lower body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. This link states that when you optimize this list of 8 essential components your biological age will be 6 years less than your chronological age. It will make you resistant to several diseases including cancer.

Your telomere length is important to reduce your biological age

Researchers know for some time that telomere length determines the biological age. Telomere length determines how old we get. It also can predict whether we get illnesses like cancer and cardiovascular diseases as we age. In addition, it determines whether you get the blessing of longevity or not. Researchers showed that two lifestyle habits, namely a Mediterranean diet and regular exercise, preserve our telomeres to give us a younger biological age.

Effect of Junk foods on our biological age

Too many people eat unhealthy foods like processed meats, French fries, hamburgers and other processed foods. How does this affect your lifespan? When we consume unhealthy foods and beverages, like sugar-sweetened beverages and highly processed foods, we gain weight. Obesity and other chronic conditions are the results that put us at a higher risk regarding at least 13 types of cancer. Included in this are endometrial (uterine) cancer, breast cancer in postmenopausal women, and colorectal cancer.

How can we counter the devastating effect of highly processed foods?

We need to buy whole foods that were not processed. Buy fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, organic chicken, fish like wild salmon.  Cook your own meals. This link describes anti-aging foods that help you to enjoy a longer life with less diseases. Other studies showed in the past that this type of food preserves your telomeres, prevents many cancers and prevents heart attacks and strokes.

Discussion

The study in the beginning of this review showed a higher cancer frequency in younger patients. This is a new concerning trend. But the study failed to show the reason behind this. In my opinion it is the fact that younger people nowadays have poorer lifestyles than in the past. They consume junk foods and larger amounts of alcohol regularly. This behavior pattern causes shortening of telomeres, lowering of the biological age and the emergence of diseases mentioned above. We need more research into the causes of telomere shortening in younger patients. Also, why do they experience accelerated aging with an increase in the biological age? The research paper shown in the beginning of this review was done on a British population.

There is a need for other studies

A similar study with a more diverse population including a record of their eating habits would be welcome. Apart from measuring the biological age, measuring the telomere length would also be useful. In addition, a control group of younger people who consume healthy foods would help as a contrast. This control group likely would have a lower biological age and longer telomeres than the experimental group.

Cancer in younger Adults is due to Accelerated Aging

Cancer in younger Adults is due to Accelerated Aging

Conclusion

In the beginning of this review, I described a study about younger patients. They had an accelerated biological age with a higher rate of various cancers. I showed that other researchers examined telomere length and the longer it was the less cancer the patients got. I mentioned that eating junk foods, processed meats and consuming sugary drinks was bad for your health. This accelerates your biological age and shortens your telomeres. As this study was based on a British cohort, we need new research that concentrates on a more diversified population. Apart from measuring the biological age, measuring the telomere length would also be useful. In addition, a control group of younger people who consume healthy foods would help as a contrast. This control group likely would have a lower biological age and longer telomeres than the experimental group.

May
13
2024

Reduction of Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Less Heart Attacks and Strokes

Recently Korean researchers showed that a reduction of alcohol intake is associated with less heart attacks and strokes. This was published on March 28, 2024. The researchers followed 21,011 participants who were heavy drinkers. The baseline examination took place 2005-2008 and a follow-up exam was between 2009 and 2012. Definition of heavy drinking was as follows:

  • For men: 4 drinks (56 g) per day or more than 14 drinks (196 g) per week.
  • For females: more than 3 drinks (42 g) per day or more than 7 drinks (98 g) per week.

Reduced alcohol intake resulted in a 23% reduced risk of heart attacks or strokes, which was a significant finding. Patients benefited most from alcohol reduction regarding angina and ischemic strokes. This study was also reviewed in Medscape:

Other studies showing benefits of less alcohol intake

A 2018 study in Plos Medicine examined a US population of 99,654 adults (68.7% female).

At the time of the enrolment, they were 55–74 years old. The overall time of follow-up was 8.9 years. Scientists looked at the various risks of cancer development or deaths from cardiovascular disease as a function of the amount of average alcoholic drinks consumed. The results were as follows:

  • Never drinkers: 1.09-fold risk of cancer or death.
  • Infrequent drinkers: 1.08-fold risk of cancer or death.
  • Heavy drinkers: 1.10-fold risk of cancer or death.
  • Very heavy drinkers: 1.21-fold risk of cancer or death.

Heart attack risk and cancer risk from alcohol consumption are different

In addition, with respect to cardiovascular risk it followed a J-curve. This means that light alcohol use reduced the probability of death from a heart attack or stroke, but with moderate or heavy alcohol use the risk of death increased. In contrast, with respect to cancer there was a linear curve, which means that no dose of alcohol was safe for cancer development. The more alcohol you consumed, the higher the risk of cancer development was. Another study also showed that only moderate alcohol consumption benefited people in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

Chinese study

In 2021 a joint US/Chinese study examined the effects of alcohol consumption on cancer, deaths from cardiovascular disease and mortality in general. 83,732 adult Chinese participants were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer in the beginning of the study. The researchers categorized participants based on self-reported alcohol consumption into 6 groups.

  1. 0 g alcohol/week (non-drinkers).
  2. 1-25 g alcohol/week.
  3. 26-150 g alcohol/week.
  4. 151-350 g alcohol/week.
  5. 351-750 g alcohol/week.
  6.  > 750 g alcohol/wk.

Results of the US/Chinese study

After 10 years of follow-up there were 6411 cases of CVD, 2947 cancers and 6646 deaths. After 10 years of observation researchers calculated the risk for cancer, CVD and mortality as follows. The risk groups are the same as mentioned above.

The lowest risk was group 2 with 1-25 g alcohol per week, which was set as 1.0. In comparison to these non-drinkers had a risk of 1.38-fold.

  1.     1.38-fold risk
  2.     1.0
  3.     1.15-fold
  4.     1.22-fold
  5.     1.33-fold
  6.     1.57-fold

The peculiar finding in this study was that non-drinkers had a risk of developing cancer, heart attacks or strokes like heavier drinkers. The risk curve has the name of a J-curve, which means the risk goes first down (like group 2, the 1-25 g alcohol/week group). Subsequently the risk curve goes up in a linear fashion. When people smoke and drink the risk is higher than the risks of people who only drink alcohol.

Reduction of Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Less Heart Attacks and Strokes

Reduction of Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Less Heart Attacks and Strokes

Conclusion

The fact that alcohol is a cell poison has been public knowledge for some time. I reviewed three studies that showed that less alcohol consumption saves lives. It does so by causing less cancer, heart attacks and strokes. The peculiar finding was that the group consuming 1-25 g alcohol/week had the best health statistic. This group had the lowest risk of causing cancers or cardiovascular disease (CVD). In comparison non-drinkers had a 1.38-fold risk to cause cancer or CVD. Those participants who were smoking as well had risks much higher than people consuming alcohol alone. If you want to live longer and stay healthy don’t smoke and drink not more than 1-25 g alcohol/week. This translates into 1.6 to 1.8 alcoholic drinks per week.

Apr
13
2024

Eating the right Food Determines your Health

CNN had an interview with Dr. Leana Wen about the fact that eating the right food determines your health. Dr. Wen is a wellness expert, an emergency physician and adjunct associate professor at George Washington University.

How much does the quality of food we eat influence our health?

There are detailed studies that showed the following effects of healthy food on our lives.

  • If you eat a diet consisting of more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts, the following will happen. You could exceed the age of controls eating unhealthy food by 10 to 13 years.

Specifically, a woman starting such a diet at age 20 would add 10 years to her life, when starting at age 60 she could add 8 years to her life. For men starting this diet at age 20 would allow him to gain 13 years, when starting at age 60 he would add 9 years to his life.

Additional healthy food studies

  • A 2023 Nature study found that men can add 10.8 years, women 10.4 years by switching their diets. This switch was from unhealthy diets to a longevity diet with more whole grains. In addition, the healthy diet contained more nuts and fruits and less sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats.
  • Another 2023 study from the Jama network followed over 100,000 people for more than 30 years. There was an association between adopting healthy eating patterns and a reduction in early mortality. People on a healthy diet reduced their risk of early death by 20%! The study also noticed that people who ate more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes had fewer other diseases. They were less likely to die from cancer, cardiovascular illness and respiratory and neurodegenerative disease. These were important findings. 

What kinds of food make you live longer?

Dr. Wen stated clearly that it is only minimally processed, whole food that allows a person to live longer. The highly processed foods like processed meats, sausages, cakes and cookies are a “no go”. They are the ones that cost lives from heart attacks, strokes and cancer. On the other hand, leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains associate with significantly reduced mortality. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce heart disease and dementia. It is also a good source of protein. So, stay away from hot dogs and chicken nuggets, instead enjoy salmon fillet or roasted chicken.

Foods that you need less of

Avoid sugar sweetened sodas and energy drinks, as they elevate cholesterol levels and cause heart attacks. Next, stay away from ultra-processed foods like chips and candies. In one study with more than 11,000 participants people who ate a lot of ultra-processed foods had a 31% higher risk of mortality.

With what do you replace junk food?

Here are a couple of examples. Somebody who used to drink a lot of sodas can replace them with water, sparkling water, flavored water or lemon juice, sweetened with stevia. Instead of snacking on ultraprocessed foods like chips, candies or pretzels eat nuts instead. Look at the list of ingredients before you buy anything in the grocery store. If there is a long list of ingredients including chemicals, this is ultraprocessed food. Replace it with minimally processed foods with only a few items on the ingredient list.

Other advice for health and longevity

  1. If possible, eat three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Stop eating 2 hours before bedtime to allow your guts to digest the food you previously ate. This avoids heart burn and interference with your sleep.
  2. Exercise regularly. Studies showed that 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week reduced mortality by 23%.
  3. Take care of stress in your life. Cherish your social life and socialize; it is important for longevity. See your doctor regularly to take care of any medical problems you may have.
  4. Watch your sleep habits. Many studies have shown that adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Sleep restores your hormone glands, gets them ready for the next day, but it is also important for longevity.
  5. Keep your body mass index (BMI) between 21.0 and 24.0. Personally, I keep my BMI between 21.0 and 22.0. Any extra pounds of fat merely lead to elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. Eventually this leads to heart attacks and strokes, but also to diabetes.
Eating the right Food Determines your Health

Eating the right Food Determines your Health

Conclusion

A recent article in CNN described that eating the right food determines your health. One study said that you should eat a diet consisting of more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts. Doing this increases your life expectation by 10 to 13 years compared to controls who ate unhealthy food. It is only minimally processed, whole food that allows a person to live longer. You must eliminate ultraprocessed food. This means you should not consume sausages, fries, chips, pretzels and other overprocessed foods. Instead, eat leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains that associate with significantly reduced mortality. Yes, eating the right food determines your health.

Incoming search terms:

Mar
30
2024

Regular Exercise Makes you 9 years younger

A recent publication noted that regular exercise makes you 9 years younger. The researchers meant that the biological age is 9 years younger than your chronological age. They went one step further and proved that regular exercise elongates your telomeres, which is why people who exercise regularly live longer. Specifically, they found that sedentary people had 140 fewer base pairs at the endpoints of their telomeres compared to people who engaged in regular physical activity. In other words, the biological age of a person who exercises regularly is lower than that of a sedentary person. This difference can be measured in leukocyte telomeres. With regard to the base pairs contained in telomeres the highest physical activity group showed the most elongation of the telomeres. There was a 9-year difference in terms of biological age between the highest exercise group and the sedentary group.

Other means of elongation of telomeres

Apart from regular exercise lifestyle factors can also modify the length of telomeres.

Smoking, a lack of regular exercise, exposure to stress and intake of polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids, especially linoleic acid shortens our body telomeres. Soybean oil, sesame seed oil, walnut oil and cotton seed oil are containing 45 to 50 % of linoleic acid, and for this reason should be avoided. The antioxidant effect of omega-3 fatty acids elongates telomeres by reducing the rate of telomere shortening. Antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene were associated with longer telomeres and a lower risk to develop breast cancer.

A few dietary recommendations

Here are a few healthy food recommendations that will elongate your telomeres.

  • Include antioxidants, fiber, organic soy protein and healthy fats (derived from avocados, fish, and nuts).
  • Stay lean, active, healthy, and stress-free.
  • Eat foods such as salmon, herring, mackerel, halibut, anchovies, cat-fish, flounder, flax seeds, chia seeds, kiwi, black raspberries, lingonberry, green tea, broccoli, sprouts, red grapes, tomatoes, olive fruit, and other vitamin C-rich and E-rich foods. They are a good source of antioxidants. Avoid tuna and grouper fish (too rich in noxious mercury).
  • These combined with a Mediterranean type diet containing fruits, and whole grains will help protect your telomeres.
  • There are certain individuals who live longer than the rest of us. They may have a certain advantage, which is a longevity gene that makes the telomeres longer. Resveratrol also works through elongation of telomeres.

Telomerase can also lead to telomere length

I attended the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine In Las Vegas (Dec. 10-14, 2014) that dealt with telomere length and how nutrition can positively influence what our genes express. This ultimately determines how long we live. Dr. Al Sears gave one of the talks at the conference.

He pointed out that shortened telomeres are causing cells to behave like old cells. In the lab we can lengthen telomeres. Telomerase activated animals regrew their brains! In the human situation the goal is to find ways to preserve the length of our telomeres in all our key organs. Alternatively, this can also be reached by inhibiting the breakdown of the enzyme telomerase, which will lead to a lengthening of telomeres. In his research Dr. Sears found at least 123 nutrients, vitamins and natural compounds that will elongate telomeres, often by stimulating telomerase.

Lengthening of critically shortened telomeres

Testing for critically short telomeres is clinically more important than using average telomere length tests. Dr. Sears said when a patient has been shown to have short telomeres and this patient is started on telomerase stimulating supplements, telomere lengthening can be documented within one month of starting the supplementation. Acetyl-L-carnitine and resveratrol are two substances that reliably elongate telomeres.

Vitamin C and other telomerase stimulators

Vitamin C will significantly delay shortening of telomeres, which translates into delayed aging. Age-dependent telomere shortening is slowed down by enrichment of intracellular vitamin C via suppression of oxidative stress. In addition, vitamin C has recently been shown to stimulate telomerase activity in certain stem cells. There is an herb, called Silymarin extract, which was found to increase telomerase activity threefold. N-acetyl cysteine is a building block for glutathione, a powerful antioxidant. In addition, it has been shown to turn on the human telomerase gene. Other telomerase stimulators are green tea extract, ginkgo biloba, gamma tocotrienol (one of the components of the vitamin E group), vitamin D3 and folic acid. Telomerase Inhibitors from Natural Products and Their Anticancer Potential.

Regular Exercise Makes you 9 years younger

Regular Exercise Makes you 9 years younger

Conclusion

A research paper found that regular exercise makes a person 9 years younger in terms of the biological age. The underlying process is that telomeres get longer with regular exercise. Specifically, the researchers found that sedentary people had 140 fewer base pairs at the endpoints of their telomeres compared to people who engaged in regular physical activity. I listed other factors that elongate telomeres and help with longevity. When you combine regular exercise with dietary factors that also elongate telomeres, you are better off than with exercise alone.

 

Dec
23
2023

Any Form of Exercise is good

Here are a few items that can prolong life; among them any form of exercise is good. This article concentrates on the exercise part in relation to longevity. A recent publication described how regular exercise prolongs your long-term survival. According to a study released on occasion of the American Heart Association’s Scientific Session 2023 there are 8 major factors that prolong life: healthy diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep health, BMI, cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.  Among this group of factors regular physical activity plays a major role to prolong your life. Researcher who studied various people found that those who neglected their physical health had a chronological age of 53, but their average biological age was 57. On the other hand, a group of fit people who engaged in regular physical exercise had a chronological age of 41 years, but a biological age of 36.

Clinical trials showing that any form of exercise is good

JAMA Internal Medicine study by Dr. del Pozo Cruz 

This study examined what the optimal amount of physical activity per week is to reduce mortality compared to an inactive population. 500,705 eligible US adults were observed for about 10 years. The abbreviations that the authors used in the study were as follows:

MPA: moderate aerobic physical activity

VPA: vigorous aerobic physical activity

MSA: muscle-strengthening activity

Results of mortality reduction with various amounts of physical activity

  • The best group engaged in more than 0 to 75 minutes of MPA combined with more than 150 minutes of VPA and 2 or more MSA sessions per week. Their mortality rate was 50% lower than an inactive comparison group.
  • The optimal combination for reduction of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer mortality risk was as follows: more than 150 to 225 minutes of MPA, more than 0 to 75 minutes of VPA, and 2 or more MSA sessions per week. This reduced combined mortality of CVD and cancer by 70%.
  • The researchers stated that the adjusted mortality rates represented 50% lower mortality rate for all-cause and cancer mortality. The mortality rate for CVD mortality was 3-fold lower than for inactive controls.

Smallest amount of exercise that reduces mortality

In a study published in the European Heart Journal the authors asked how little exercise per week was enough to reduce mortality from heart disease. They found that it takes at least 15–20 min/week of vigorous physical activity (VPA) to reduce mortality from heart attacks by 16–40%. If you increased the exercise level by 50–57 min/week the mortality rates reduced even further.

Are physically active jobs healthy?

Recent research showed that people who work in physically demanding jobs are more likely to develop early cognitive impairment. This is the pre-stage of Alzheimer’s disease. 15.5 % of people who worked in high levels of occupational physical activity developed dementia. This compared to 9% risk for people whose work involved a low level of physical activity, not too much and not too little. The finding confirms the notion that there is a need for balance of physical exercise. Several publications stressed what is optimal in terms of exercise: vigorous (75 to 300 minutes per week) and moderate physical activity (150 to 600 minutes per week). People who expose themselves to these amounts of exercise live the longest and stay healthy.

Discussion

The studies discussed here showed that the right amount of exercise can reduce mortality from heart disease and cancer. However, exercise is not the only factor that can do this. It is important to combine regular exercise with a healthy diet. Your diet should consist of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins and limit saturated and trans-fat, added sugars, and sodium. In addition, you need enough sleep, maintain a healthy weight, manage your stress, and don’t smoke.

Any Form of Exercise is good

Any Form of Exercise is good

Conclusion

In this review I touched on the importance of regular exercise to reduce mortality from heart disease and cancer. Vigorous (75 to 300 minutes per week) and moderate physical activity (150 to 600 minutes per week) reduce mortality from heart attacks by 16% to 40%. But physical exercise is only one factor of mortality reduction. If you want the full benefit from other factors, you must quit smoking, eat a Mediterranean type diet with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins. Also you should limit saturated and trans-fat, added sugars, and sodium. In addition, you need enough sleep, maintain a healthy weight and manage your stress. Once you adopted this lifestyle, you live longer and you will get less diseases.

Dec
09
2023

Too much Ultraprocessed Food Makes you sick

A Lancet study published on Nov. 13, 2023 found that too much ultraprocessed food makes you sick. Researchers noted that ultraprocessed animal products and sweetened beverages were linked to an increased cancer risk as well as other diseases such as strokes or diabetes.

In Europe more than half of the food intake consists of ultraprocessed food. In the US a 2019 study found that 71% of the food supply is ultraprocessed.

Details of the study

The details of the study were summarized in a CNN report. Researchers of the study collected nutritional data from 266,666 men and women (60% were women) from 7 European countries between 1992 and 2000. The researchers followed the participants for 11 years. During that time they observed the participants for the development of chronic diseases and cancer. During the observation time 21,917 primary cancers, 10,939 cardiovascular events, and 11,322 type 2 diabetes cases developed. On entry into the study participants were questioned about their food intake in the past 12 months. This was matched with the NOVA classification system. It became clear that not all ultraprocessed foods were detrimental to the health of the participants. Animal products and sugar-sweetened drinks and foods caused chronic diseases in the participants of the study. However, ultra-processed breads, cereals or alternative plant-based products were neutral in terms of health risks.

Main findings of the study: too much ultraprocessed food makes you sick

The main findings of the study were that ingesting mostly ultraprocessed food leads to a 9% increase of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer. This is in comparison to controls who ate very little ultraprocessed food. However, when you reduce your intake of ultraprocessed food your risk of developing these diseases reduces. The key is to eat more fruit and vegetables and concentrate on eating minimally processed food.

Other studies with similar findings

In 2022 the British Medical Journal published two studies that documented a higher colorectal cancer rate and cardiovascular disease rate when subjects were eating larger amounts of ultraprocessed foods (UPF). Specifically, when men had exposure to a high percentage of UPF in their diet they developed 29% more colorectal cancer after 28 years of observation in comparison to men who ate a low percentage of UPF. A related study that went on for 14 years showed a 32% higher risk for death from cardiovascular disease for men who ate a high UPF diet in comparison to men on a low UPF diet.

French study 2019

A French study in 2019 followed 44, 551 French adults 45 years or older for 7.1 years. A 10% increase of consumption of ultraprocessed food caused a 14% higher risk of all-cause mortality. The authors stated that 80% of all premature deaths from noncommunicable disease are due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), respiratory disease, cancer, and diabetes. The authors discussed in detail the problems with overconsumption of ultraprocessed food.

Some of the contents of ultraprocessed food

Ultraprocessed food contains:

  • High salt content, and high sodium intake has been associated with cardiovascular deaths and increased stomach cancer risk.
  • Excessive amounts of added sugar. There is an association between added sugar consumption and an increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.
  • Ultraprocessed foods contain very little fiber. More dietary fiber in one’s diet has an association with lower death rates.
  • Studies have estimated that reducing saturated and trans fats, salt, and added sugar in the diet prevent cardiovascular deaths.
  • High temperature food processing produces acrylamide. Acrylamide is a known carcinogen.
  • Consumption of processed meat products causes a higher risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer.
More ingredients of ultraprocessed food
  • Artificial sweeteners can alter microbiota and can cause the onset of type 2 diabetes and metabolic diseases.
  • With bisphenol A coating in food packaging endocrine disruptors enter the food. Bisphenol A causes endocrine cancers and metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity.
  • The food industry uses additives frequently in their formulations. Some studies raised concerns about the health consequences of food additives. For instance, the food industry uses titanium dioxide widely. There is an association of titanium dioxide and increased risk of chronic intestinal inflammation and carcinogenesis.

It is easy to see that when we expose our bodies to a mix of these ingredients this can cause cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes. The final outcome is that this leads to premature deaths.

Too much Ultraprocessed Food Makes you sick

Too much Ultraprocessed Food Makes you sick

Conclusion

Too much ultraprocessed food (UPF) makes you sick. This is the conclusion of a large study, which the Lancet published on Nov. 13, 2023. Researchers followed 266,666 men and women (60% women) for 11 years. The main findings of the study were that ingesting mostly ultraprocessed food leads to a 9% increase of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer. This is in comparison to controls who ate very little ultraprocessed food. Other studies going back to 2019 and 2022 showed very similar findings.

Other studies

A French study from 2019 noted that a 10% increase of consumption of ultraprocessed food caused a 14% higher risk of all-cause mortality. Several studies in 2022 showed that men who had an exposure to a high percentage of UPF in their diet developed 29% more colorectal cancer after 28 years of observation in comparison to men who ate a low percentage of UPF. A related study that went on for 14 years showed a 32% higher risk for death from cardiovascular disease for men who ate a high UPF diet in comparison to men on a low UPF diet. It follows from this data that a simple diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, nuts and lean meat (chicken turkey, fish) with minimal amounts of UPF protects you from premature death.

Nov
11
2023

New Treatment against Advanced Bladder Cancer

At a Cancer congress in Madrid, Spain a new treatment against advanced bladder cancer was discussed at this year’s European Society for Medical Oncology Congress. The standard treatment for advanced bladder cancer is gemcitabine in combination with cisplatin or carboplatin. According to CNN the median survival with the standard chemotherapy is 16.1 months. In contrast, treatment with the new intravenous antibody drug enfortumab vedotin in combination with intravenous pembrolizumab resulted in longer survival. The combination yielded a survival of 31.5 months for advanced bladder cancer patients. This new immunotherapy method resulted in a 96% longer survival. The safety profile of the two approaches were similar. 55.9% of patients taking the combination immune therapy developed skin rashes or hyperglycemia, while 69.5% of those taking platinum chemotherapy developed this.

Other new findings about advanced bladder cancer treatment

Dr. Thomas Powles is a professor of urology cancer at the University of London and director of the Barts Cancer Centre in the United Kingdom. He said:” The problem with chemotherapy is although it works quite well initially, resistance occurs quickly, and the median survival for metastatic bladder cancer has been about a year. What this study showed is, we did a big, randomized Phase 3 study where we compared a new treatment — two new drugs — with standard chemotherapy,” Powles said. “And in this randomized trial, when you gave those two drugs together, you reduced the risk of death for this cancer by over 50%. So, you’ve doubled survival, with patients living twice as long, and we’ve got long-term durable remission.”

Erdafitinib study

A second study from the New England Journal of Medicine used erdafitinib in comparison to standard chemotherapy. Erdafitinib is a small molecule inhibitor of fibroblast growth factor receptor and is effective in the treatment of cancer. This study compared 136 patients on erdafitinib with 130 patients on chemotherapy. Patients treated with standard chemotherapy had a median overall survival of 7.8 months. This compares to 12.1 median survival for the erdafitinib group. Erdafitinib, a kinase inhibitor drug, is slowing the spread of cancer cells.

Side effects that led to death were less common with erdafitinib than with chemotherapy. Only 0.7% of erdafitinib patients had serious side effects versus 5.4% of chemotherapy patients.

Nivolumab study

Another clinical trial was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Nivolumab is an immune checkpoint inhibitor that was originally developed for treatment of intractable melanoma. However, subsequently it was found to be active also against lung cancer, kidney cancer and bladder cancer. In the clinical study mentioned above 304 patients with intractable bladder cancer were treated with standard chemotherapy alone. They were compared to 304 patients on standard chemotherapy plus nivolumab.

The median complete response with the nivolumab-combination therapy was 37.1 months. In contrast, with gemcitabine–cisplatin alone it was only 13.2 months. Side effects of the two treatments were about similar. The authors concluded that treatment with the immune checkpoint inhibitor, nivolumab plus standard chemotherapy with gemcitabine–cisplatin resulted in better survivals than treatment with gemcitabine–cisplatin alone.

Discussion

Immunomodulation is one of the newest approaches to cancer treatment. But at the Hope 4 Cancer Clinic immunomodulation is only one aspect of a comprehensive approach to cancer treatment.They mention that they restore the microbiome in the gut. Great detail is spent to a full spectrum nutrition. Detoxification and non-toxic cancer therapies are employed. Oxygenation helps to restore the acid/base balance. Immunomodulation with the newer agents mentioned above helps as well to combat cancer. Low-dose laser photodynamic therapy with various light frequencies helps to destroy cancer cells as well. These lasers activate a variety of sensitizers, which are taken up by cancer cells and lead to their destruction. Finally, the cancer patients are taught how to achieve spiritual and emotional well-being. The Hope 4 Cancer Clinic demonstrates that treatment with immunomodulation is best combined with other treatment modalities to improve patient survival.

New Treatment against Advanced Bladder Cancer

New Treatment against Advanced Bladder Cancer

Conclusion

Physicians used three different immune therapies to treat advanced bladder cancer. Erdafitinib vedotin, a kinase inhibitor drug, in combination with intravenous pembrolizumab resulted in a survival of 31.5 months for advanced bladder cancer patients versus 16.1 months with standard chemotherapy. Another clinical trial showed that patients on standard chemotherapy had a median overall survival of only 7.8 months for advanced bladder cancer. This compares to 12.1 months median survival for the erdafitinib group. Finally, nivolumab, an immune checkpoint inhibitor was combined with standard chemotherapy. When end stage bladder cancer patients were treated with this combination, they survived 37.1 months. In comparison, the control group with chemotherapy alone (gemcitabine–cisplatin) survived only 13.2 months. There is definitely better survival of patients when immunomodulation is used. The hope is that future immunomodulators will have a stronger effect against cancer with less side effects.

Oct
07
2023

Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes

This article is about sudden cardiac death in athletes. Dr. Robert A. Harrington and Dr. Manesh Patel reported from the European Society of Cardiology 2023 Congress in Amsterdam. Notably, this congress took place from August 25-28, 2023 with 30,000 participants.  Another key point is that one of the important topics was sudden cardiac death in athletes. In general, you normally assume that athletes are healthy, and their hearts would support their peak athletic activities. It is important to realize as Drs. Harrington and Patel reported that under certain circumstances athletes can suddenly die.

Bronny James, a high school basketball player was rescued from a cardiac arrest as this article shows.  Apparently, he has a congenital heart condition, which makes him more vulnerable to get an irregular heartbeat. It must be remembered that his can cause his heart to stop beating. Fortunately, he was revived at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. To clarify, there are a number of non-invasive procedures that interventional cardiologists use to correct abnormalities in a heart. Specifically, following such procedures the person’s heart is more stable.

Ventricular fibrillation

To explain, irregular heartbeats leading to ventricular fibrillation is one cause of death in athletes. Another key point, often there can be other underlying conditions that lead to this. Examples are a long QT interval on an ECG, a big thick heart (medical term: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), and dilated aortas in tall people.

Success stories of reviving people and athletes with sudden cardiac death

In other words, over the years two methods showed success in rescuing athletes with sudden cardiac deaths. The first is CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).   This keeps the blood flowing and delivers oxygen to the lung capillaries. Next the emergency medical team is called in who provide an automated external defibrillator to the chest. This can revive up to 100% cases of athletes with sudden cardiac deaths. The key is to do CPR right away and to have the emergency medical team use the automated external defibrillator (AED) right away.

Screening methods to prevent sudden cardiac death in athletes

With this in mind, the medical profession has started to do preventative tests of athletes. First, Italy is one of the countries that has persistently done standard screening. Physicians order ECG’s and echocardiograms. They can readily diagnose hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with these tests. Second, a new stethoscope can get sounds and some ECG signals at the same time. This helps to diagnose several abnormal cardiac conditions.

Third, another point is that there have to be enough people around a sports event who have experience in performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Certainly, the sooner you start CPR, the more successful is the outcome with respect to a full recovery. Next medical personnel with the AED equipment are necessary to bring the heart rhythm back to a sinus rhythm. When the patient’s heart beats normally again, the patient needs transportation to the nearest hospital for further monitoring and stabilization.

Commotio cordis

When there is a lower chest impact from a hockey puck, baseball or lacrosse ball the heart can suddenly come to a standstill. Physicians call this commotio cordis. These athletes need immediate CPR to keep them alive followed by timely administration of an automated external defibrillator. Often the heart beats normally after this. If immediate medical help is not available, these young athletes die and it becomes an upsetting newspaper story.

Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes

Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes

Conclusion

Dr. Harrington interviewed Dr. Manesh Patel, a cardiologist from Duke University regarding sudden cardiac death in athletes. A thump to the chest from a hockey puck or a baseball can cause the heart to stop beating. In order to save this athlete from dying bystanders have to start CPR right away. This helps to continue blood circulation and brings oxygen into the tissues. Next medical personnel apply electrode pads from an automated external defibrillator (AED) to the chest wall. One or two electric shocks are administered. This often revives the heart or converts irregular heart contractions to the normal sinus beats, and the athlete recovers. The emergency medical team transports the patient to the nearest hospital for observation and further treatments. CPR and AED in combination can save up to 100% of cases that would otherwise turn into sudden cardiac deaths.

Jul
30
2023

Learn about Longevity from the Blue Zones

People who live in blue zones often turn 100 or older, so we can learn about longevity from the blue zones. The 5 most often cited blue zones are in Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California, United States. But there are many more blue zones throughout the world. These zones contain the most centenarians, people who have reached the age of 100. It is thought that it is the people’s lifestyle that makes them live much longer than the rest of the world.

Lifestyle of centenarians

People are active, are bicycling, walking, swimming, constantly on the go and they are careful about what they eat. They stay slim, but are muscular. Their diet consists mostly of vegetables and salads, with very little meat. They may consume a small piece of beef on Sundays, but not during the rest of the week. Fish may be a part of their diet two or three times per week.

Diet characteristic of blue zones

Sandee LaMotte  published an article on March 4, 2023 at CNN, which describes the diet consumed in blue zones. People in blue zones are active, handle stress well, are close to friends, have a purpose in life and are often members of a social or religious group. They eat mostly a plant-based diet and they stop eating before they are full.

The food consists of complex carbohydrates. No processed foods are eaten. The American Heart Association says: “Complex carbohydrates, such as beans, peas, vegetables and whole grains provide vitamins, minerals and fiber that can go missing in processed and refined foods. In addition, they are digested more slowly, and the fiber helps you feel full longer.”

Origin of blue zone foods

The blue zone food has its roots in the African, Asian, Latino and Native American diets. Dan Buettner originally published an article about the blue zones in the National Geographic Magazine. Recently he published a collection of 100 blue zone recipes in book form.

The Mediterranean diet is very close to blue zone eating.

What blue zone meals contain

Buettner said: “The five pillars of every longevity diet, including the blue zone, are whole grains, vegetables in season, tubers, nuts and beans. In fact, I argue the cornerstone of a longevity diet is beans.” People in blue zones eat similar foods as those who eat a Mediterranean diet, but they do not eat as much fish as people on a Mediterranean diet. People on a blue zone diet don’t eat any milk products. On the other hand, goat and sheep’s milk cheeses such as feta and pecorino are part of the blue zone diet. In the blue zones the consumption of purple sweet potatoes, sesame seeds, fresh vegetables and fruit are the major staples.

More info about Blue Zone diet

All of the meals contain complex carbohydrates, micronutrients and a whole variety of fiber.

Perhaps the important difference to the Standard American diet is that in the blue zone there is a lack of beef, hamburgers, processed foods and highly processed carbohydrates like bread, pasta, sugar-sweetened beverages, salty snacks like potato chips, candies, cookies and processed meats (bacon, sausages or cold-cuts). People in blue zones eat very little bread and if they do, they eat sourdough bread, which does not raise the blood sugar level as the highly refined white bread.

Recapturing healthy foods

So, what foods are blue zone people really eating? Tofu, quinoa, mushrooms, lentils, beans, turnip greens, artichokes, asparagus, chickpeas and spinach are the main staples of their nutrition. They stay away from sugar, rarely eat meat (once or twice per week) and otherwise have a healthy lifestyle. Scientists think that longevity comes from the healthy lifestyle and diet, which centenarians practice. Several longevity genes get activated as explained in this publication. This translates into living long lives with very few illnesses and experiencing energy until the end of their lives.

Learn about Longevity from the Blue Zones

Learn about Longevity from the Blue Zones

Conclusion

We can learn a lot from observing what centenarians eat and do. Scientist have investigated the lifestyle of people living in blue zones in various parts of the world. These zones contain the most centenarians, people who have reached the age of 100. People in blue zones eat mostly vegetables and very little red meat. They avoid sugar and processed foods. But they are also very active, have a rich social life and allow themselves enough sleep. Scientists accumulated evidence that genetic longevity switches are activated by the life style of people living in blue zones.  It is the activation of these epigenetic switches that are responsible for the longevity of people in blue zones.

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