Let's talk living a longer, healthier life

Let me start this off by posting this sobering snippet, related to the study of super agers:

Dr Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging, said what was striking about the group was what unhealthy lives many had lived.

He told me: "Almost 50% of them were overweight. Many were heavy smokers, did not exercise and had unhealthy diets - they did not do what their doctors said they should."

His research found several genetic variants among the group that appeared to confer protection against the diseases of ageing.

He says only about one in 10,000 people is lucky enough to have these protective super-ager genes, but believes science could help the rest of us.

"For more than 60 years metformin has been used as a very cheap first-line treatment for diabetes. Now, trials in a variety of animals have shown they live healthier, longer lives.

Exactly how metformin might delay the diseases of ageing is not well understood, but it appears to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in cells.

In humans, studies have linked metformin to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and cognitive decline. Dr Barzilai, who is also deputy scientific director of the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), is planning a randomised study of 3,000 adults aged 65-79 - half will take metformin tablets each day and half a placebo or dummy pill.

About half the $70m dollars needed has been raised; it is hoped the six-year trial will start in 2018, but this may depend on the support of one or more wealthy philanthropists. At present, the US medicines regulator, the FDA, does not recognise ageing as a medical condition.

But Dr Barzilai says if the metformin trial was successful it would provide a proof of principle that ageing can be targeted. And he believes better drugs will come in the future. Another promising area of ageing research is cellular senescence - the process by which cells stop dividing.

Most human cells can reproduce a limited number of times - this protects against cancer as the more cells divide, the greater the chance they will accumulate errors.

Cellular senescence helps keep humans predominantly free of cancer in the first half of life. But as we age, the senescent cells accumulate, secreting inflammatory molecules that can damage neighbouring tissue and help trigger several diseases of ageing. Senescent cells congregate in tissue affected by ageing, such as the joints and eyes - and are implicated in both osteoarthritis and age-related macular degeneration.

Unity Biotechnology, in California, is planning to begin human trials next year of a drug to clear senescent cells from the knee. Dr Jamie Dananberg, chief medical officer, told me: “Osteoarthritis is a key reason why it hurts to get old. Our hope is that a single injection will alleviate pain, halt and perhaps even begin to repair the knee.”

Even if the drug, which might need to be injected every few months, was partially successful, it could have huge implications for improving quality of life for those affected. Unity is also targeting eye, lung and kidney disease.

These drugs are not designed to make us live longer, but to make old age less painful and more healthy - to put more life in our years."

Males should ejaculate regularly in order to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Captain CargoShorts - 

Males should ejaculate regularly in order to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

I have read that too.

I made a thread about a guy who may very well have a pristine prostate:

Man has so many orgasms he can't stop

<span class="SmallText" style="font-size: 11px; color: #1B3453;">(24) [2466] by <a class="ProfileComment-p" href="http://forum.mixedmartialarts.com/mma.cfm?go=forum_framed.posterList&amp;thread=2694520&amp;forum=2" target="main">MMA Playwright</a> </span></p>

I wonder if metformin isn’t just giving you some of the benefits of lower blood sugar. In other words, could you get these same benefits by diet alone?

I find ignoring the cult of Steve most relaxing.

GenericAmerican - I wonder if metformin isn't just giving you some of the benefits of lower blood sugar. In other words, could you get these same benefits by diet alone?

That’s what I think, but then again, I also think that a diet that focuses so much on lowering blood sugar might run the risk of omitting other important foods.


Public Release:  29-Apr-2014

Simple tests of physical capability in midlife linked with survival

And more time spent in light intensity physical activity may ward off disability

Low levels of physical capability (in particular weak grip strength, slow chair rise speed and poor standing balance performance) in midlife can indicate poorer chances of survival over the next 13 years, while greater time spent in light intensity physical activity each day is linked to a reduced risk of developing disability in adults with or at risk of developing knee osteoarthritis, suggest two papers published on bmj.com today.

Previous systematic reviews of the literature and meta-analyses have shown that lower levels of physical capability are associated with lower survival rates in older community dwelling populations. Various explanations of these associations between physical capability and death have been postulated including the suggestion that low levels of physical capability may reflect undetected disease and ageing processes. However, there are a number of gaps in existing literature and a lack of studies which have examined these associations at younger ages.

In paper 1, researchers from the UK, US and Norway highlight that studies looking at physical capability with death in younger populations are "essential to elucidate whether associations exist even prior to the establishment of pathways between disease pathology, physical capability and mortality in later life".

The researchers, led by Dr Rachel Cooper at the Medical Research Council Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL (University College London), therefore used data from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development to examine the associations of grip strength, chair rise speed and standing balance time at age 53 with death rates from all-causes over the following 13 years (up to age 66). The survey has been tracking the health of over 5000 people since their births in 1946.

Physical capability was assessed during home visits, when all participants were 53 years old, using three common measures of physical capability: grip strength, chair rise speed and standing balance time.

177 deaths (88 due to cancer, 47 to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 42 to other causes) occurred between ages 53 and 66. Participants with lower physical capability scores at age 53 years tended to have lower socioeconomic position, less healthy lifestyles and higher prevalence of self-reported CVD, diabetes and severe respiratory symptoms when compared with those with higher scores. Even after taking account of these factors, people in the lowest fifth of performance were found to have higher rates of all-cause mortality than those in the highest fifth of performance. In addition, after adjusting for sex, those who could not perform any of the tests at age 53 had over 12 times higher death rates when compared with people able to perform all three tests. The main findings were unchanged after excluding all deaths occurring during the first two years of follow-up.

The findings suggest that people with poor physical capability in midlife (i.e. who have relatively low performance or who are unable to perform the tests for health reasons) are an important target group. Further research is needed to identify the most effective interventions as studies so far have only focused on high risk older people.

The researchers conclude that there are "robust associations of standing balance time, chair rise speed and grip strength at age 53 with all-cause mortality rates over 13 years of follow-up". They suggest there is value in using these simple tests to assess physical capability in midlife to identify those people who are less likely to achieve a "long and healthy life".

Your personality affects how long you’ll live. In The Longevity Project, one of the largest studies if its kind that spanned eight decades, Stanford researchers Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin found that conscientiousness beat out all other personality type when it comes to life expectancy. “The qualities of a prudent, persistant, well-organized person, like a scientist-professor — somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree” are the qualities that help lead to a long life. “Many of us assume that more relaxed people live longer, but it’s not necessarily the case.” Why? Conscientious behavior influences other behaviors. Conscientious people tend to make healthier choices, including who they marry, where they work, and the likelihood they’ll smoke, drive too fast, or follow doctors’ orders.

Your diet matters. A lot. Many studies looking at the lives of centenarians look at what they eat, and considering many people who live into their hundreds reside in the Mediterranean, that diet — which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats like olive oil — gets a lot of attention. The diet has been linked to a healthier older age, lower risk for heart disease, and even protection against memory loss. Friedman and Martin also found that lifestyle factors like diet play a role.

Of course, genetics are a factor too. If your parents had long lives, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will too, but there are likely some biological factors at play. Just last week, researchers studying the body of that 115-year-old woman found that stem cell exhaustion may be one of the causes of death for healthy people who live into their hundreds. That means cells get exhausted and literally expire. Similarly, other research suggests that some people may be prone to fewer diseases, or may have varying levels of chemicals in the brain, like serotonin or dopamine, that may be giving them an edge by regulating body functions.

Staying in school will add a few years. Education is correlated with a longer life. A 2012 report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found that people with a bachelor’s degree or higher live about nine years longer than people who don’t graduate high school. James Smith, a health economist at the RAND Corporation, is also an proponent of the argument for staying in school for better life expectancy. His findings show education may be an even bigger factor than race and income. Educated people are more likely to land better jobs, plan for their future, and make healthier lifestyle choices.

Work stress isn’t bad for you, necessarily. Being a hard worker doesn’t necessarily mean job-stress will harm you. The Longevity Study found that plenty of hard workers lived long lives. “Skeptics may wonder if hard workers really are enjoying life,” the authors write. “We found that productive, hardworking people (even in old age) are not stressed and miserable, but tend to be happier, healthier, and more socially connected than their less productive peers.”

But it helps to be mindful. There are some findings to suggest that being mindful can actually have effects on lifespan. One such study looked at people attending a three-month stay at a meditation retreat and found that after the three months the meditators had on average about 30% more activity of the enzyme telomerase than the controls did, which is related to aging. The findings are very preliminary, but they suggest that the mind does have influence on the body.

You don’t have to be a Pollyanna. While a constantly pleasant disposition seems like it would put people at a lower stress level (and therefore make them healthier) the Longevity Study researchers say that “thinking positive” isn’t necessarily healthy. “If you’re … very optimistic, especially in the face of illness and recovery, if you don’t consider the possibility that you might have setbacks, then those setbacks are harder to deal with,” Dr. Martin told the New York Times.

Being social is critical. Having a strong social group is associated with a longer life. Women tend to have stronger social networks, and that may be part of the reason women tend to live longer than men. We often turn to friends and family for support, and taking care of the people that matter to us may help us take better care of ourselves, some evidence shows. Some research even suggests that immune function is improved when we are around our friends, and that they help with stress regulation.

Sitting a lot is probably the worst thing you can do. Research shows that sitting for long bouts of time put people at risk for shorter lifespans and other health risks. A 2011 study found that each hour people spent sitting down and watching TV after age 25 was linked to a deduction of 22 minutes from their overall life expectancy.

Meet the doctor who is convinced he will live to 150

An anti-ageing expert is convinced he will live until he is 150 and claims healthy Brits will live far longer than they expect.

Dr Alex Zhavoronkov, director of the UK-based Biogerontology Research Foundation think-tank, argues that medical advancements and the widespread use of antibiotics mean that life expectancy is now much greater than we believe.

And to test the theory he has committed himself to living a life that should give him the best chance of living to a ripe old age.

He takes 100 different drugs and supplements each day, exercises regularly, goes for frequent check ups and monitors his own blood biochemistry and cell counts. He also vaccinates as soon as vaccines become available and claims to have ‘suppressed cravings’ for marriage, children and material assets to concentrate on anti-ageing research.

His comments come just weeks after Austrian researchers declared that old age now does not begin until 74 because of advances in health and medicine.

Dr Alex Zhavoronkov, 37, said: “I think that even people past their 70s, who are in good health, have a fighting chance to live past 150.

“All of the supercentenarians alive today lived through tough times, when no antibiotics were available and our understanding of human biology was not that far from the stone age.

“Longevity of these people is attributed mostly to luck and stress resistance attributed to multiple factors including genetics.

“But people alive today will soon see the fruits of biomedical research come to market and gradually reduce mortality from many diseases and extend healthy longevity.

“I think that in two-three years we will have effective pharmacological solutions based on already approved drugs that will help people remain younger and healthier until other advances in regenerative medicine and gene therapy become available to further extend their longevity."

Dr Zhavoronkov believes the biggest ageing culprits are not biological, but economic, social and behavioural and that much of the battle still lies in people’s heads.

“The toughest level of ageing to address is psychological aging,” he added.

“People are evolved to accept their certain decline and demise and human behavior and attitude to life changes throughout life and events like child birth or retirement trigger many processes that are very difficult to reverse.

“People form their longevity expectations primarily using their family history and country averages and are not prepared to change their expectations quickly.”

A baby girl born today is now expected to life to an average age of 82.8 years and a boy to 78.8 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.

But many health experts believe that if people embraced all the known anti-ageing interventions that are now documented, most could live far longer.

Simple lifestyle changes such as walking regularly, cutting down on sugar, salt and fat, and taking advantage of drugs that already exist, like statins, could all extend life.

However trying to persuade people to do what is good for them has proved tricky, as Cardiff University found.

In 1979, 2,500 men were asked to follow five simple rules – eat well, work out, drink less, keep their weight down and never smoke.

Four decades on, just 25 pensioners managed to stick to the plan. But they are all far fitter and healthier than those who gave up.

Dr Peter Ellwood, who carried out the study said: “We found that we could make read reductions in areas like cancer and dementia. People weren’t just living longer, they were healthier.

“Living a healthy lifestyle is better than any pill and have proved that it is possible to fit and active after the age of 65.”

Dr Zhavoronkov believes that rapid advances in medicines and technology will make it possible to extend human lives well beyond what was evolutionary necessary; to survive long enough to reproduce.

“Even if you look at the previous century, life expectancies in developed countries doubled even without major technological interventions,” he said.

“So unless our civilization suffers a major blow from one of the catastrophic events like a global economic crisis, rise of militant religions or bioterrorism, many people alive today will be living extraordinarily long lives and take an active role in further human evolution.”

Dr Zhavoronkov is also a professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and heads the laboratory of regenerative medicine at the Federal Clinical Research Centre for Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology in Moscow

He is the co-founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine, a biotech company dedicated to drug discovery for cancer and aging located at Johns Hopkins University.


Dr Zhavoronkov Top 10 tips for living to 150

"Thousands of years of human history show that neither diet, exercise or herbs will significantly extend human lifespan. But here are a few rules that I set for myself to stay young until life extension technologies mature and reach the clinic:

Avoid psychological aging: Set your expected longevity horizon to theoretically achievable, yet challenging target. I aim for 170 at the moment.
Make more time for yourself and your research: Postpone reproduction to avoid any responsibilities that come with child birth. Prioritize health and knowledge assets over material assets. Constantly invest in your education and in education of everyone around you.
Maintain youthful social network:Socialize with the young people and preferably young scientists and medical doctors. College professors live longer and remain intellectually agile much longer than the rest of the population.
Engage in ageing research: Support and actively engage in research in aging and longevity. Only first hand intimate knowledge of the field will provide confidence for trying prescription drugs to slow down ageing or prevent age-related pathologies. Some of these drugs are already available.
Maintain a healthy body: Get 7 hours of sleep (unfortunately I can not afford this luxury), practice intermittent caloric restriction, do yoga and periodically exercise with weights. Maintain your body mass index (BMI) between 20 and 25. Avoid inflammation and avoid getting sick.
Know your predispositions: Perform basic genetic testing to understand predisposition and the likely effects of the various drugs.
Monitor your health: Regularly monitor your blood biochemistry, cell counts, heart rate, activity, and other performance metrics.
Start taking geroprotectors: Start a personalized geroprotector drug regimen after getting to know the field and yourself.
Store your biospecimens: Store your blood and tissue specimens in a biobank for future research.
Make your life interesting to want to crave longevity: Find a research interest that drives you. Read science fiction and try open world video games. Life should never be boring.