Aging

Scientists have demonstrated that mobility can be restored in patients with Parkinson's disease, the major degenerative disease of the motor system worldwide. 

The experiments used stem cells to generate dopaminergic nerve cells and reactivate the production of dopamine in the brains of rats with symptoms of shaking palsy or Parkinson's disease. 

Though deaths due to drug use and hepatitis C have gone up, falling death rates due to cancer and heart disease have resulted in a global life expectancy increase of 5.8 years in men and 6.6 years in women between 1990 and 2013, according to an analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 (GBD 2013).

In high-income regions, falling death rates from most cancers (down by 15%) and cardiovascular diseases (down by 22%) have increased life expectancy, while rapidly declining death rates for diarrhea, lower respiratory tract infections, and neonatal disorders have helped extend life expectancy in low-income countries (see figure 7 page 14, and table 2 pages 15-23). 


A new study says that delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord in newborns by two minutes leads to a better development of the baby during the first days of life - by influencing the resistance to oxidative stress in newborns. 


Some people just age better than others and it is isn't due to lifestyle. Most centenarians smoked cigarettes at one point, many were obese and almost all eat red meat. 

Perhaps birds can tell us what really matters. 


Epidemiologists have examined the relationship between body weight and life expectancy and say that overweight and obese individuals have the potential to decrease life expectancy by up to 8 years.

If diabetes or cardiovascular disease develop, that could shorten life expectancy ever more, according to their analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (years 2003 to 2010) which was used to estimate the annual risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults with different body weights.

The data from almost 4,000 individuals was also used to analyze the contribution of excess body weight to years of life lost and healthy years of life lost. 


Drinking 3-5 cups of coffee per day has been linked to protection against Alzheimer's Disease, according to a new review of studies.

The number of people in Europe aged over 65 is predicted to rise from 15.4% of the population to 22.4% by 2025 and, with an aging population, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease are of increasing concern.  Alzheimer's Disease affects one person in twenty over the age of 65, amounting to 26 million people world-wide.

Epidemiologists have linked regular, moderate coffee consumption with a possible reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease. An overview of the findings were presented during a satellite symposium at the 2014 Alzhemier Europe Annual Congress.



Studies that deliberately exclude older adults from their samples render older adults' sexuality invisible. shutterstock

By Sue Malta, University of Melbourne

It is commonly believed that one key issue in brain again is that it becomes less flexible - plastic - and that learning may therefore become more difficult.

A new study contradicts that and shows that plasticity did occur in seniors who learned a task well, it just occurred in a different part of the brain than in younger people.

When many older subjects learned a new visual task, the researchers found, they unexpectedly showed a significantly associated change in the white matter of the brain. White matter is the the brain's "wiring," or axons, sheathed in a material called myelin that can make transmission of signals more efficient. Younger learners, meanwhile, showed plasticity in the cortex, where neuroscientists expected to see it.


If you want to know the secret to a longer life, look to reptiles. But you may not like the answer you find.

There is a belief that a fast-paced lifestyle is damaging to health. Slowing down will not just be more relaxing, but also keep you around, finds an analysis of 1,014 species of reptiles (including 672 lizards and 336 snakes), a representative sample of the approximately 10,000 known reptiles on the planet. After examining their life history parameters, such as body size, earliest age at first reproduction, body temperature, reproductive modes, litter or clutch size and frequency, geographic distribution, and diet, they found that early sexual maturation and a higher frequency of laying eggs or giving birth were associated with shortened longevity. 

Supplement marketers have been aggressively claiming that vitamin B12 and folic acid reduce the risk of memory loss, but a large study on long-term use of supplements found no benefits.   

The study involved people with high blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer's disease. Early observational studies claimed there may be some benefit to thinking and memory skills in taking folic acid and vitamin B12, but the results were not duplicated in later randomized, controlled trials.