Aging

Illicit drug use is more common in older people than ever before - but that's because they did it the most when they were younger and they are more likely than ever to survive into old age.

New research published in Age and Ageing found that the lifetime use of cannabis, amphetamine, cocaine and LSD in 50-64 year olds has significantly increased since 1993 and is much higher than lifetime use in adults aged over 65. The study also found that drug use in inner London was higher than the overall UK average.

The study analyzed data on illicit drug use from two household surveys*. The most recent national survey included 2,009 people aged 65 and 1,827 people aged 55-65. The inner London survey included 284 and 176 people in these respective age groups

You know it's true.  It's common sense.  Continue to exercise and you will have a better life. Muscle mass will decrease as you age unless you stop it but 12 weeks of training geared towards improving muscular power in older people were shown to be highly effective for improving their functional capacity and quality of life, according to studies carried out by the Biomechanics and Physiology of Movement research group at the Public University of Navarre.
Sex helps in multiple ways, it seems.  New research presented at The Gerontological Society of America's meeting, based on 2004 General Social Surveys, found that the more often older married individuals engage in sexual activity, the more likely they are to be happy with their lives and marriages.

Based on the survey responses of 238 married individuals age 65 years or older, the research showed that frequency of sexual activity was a significant predictor of both general and marital happiness. The association even remained after accounting for factors such as age, gender, health status, and satisfaction with financial situation.

As we reach old age, our bodies undergo several changes. And not for the better. More and more people are beginning to wonder whether we can do something about this. A lot of research is going on to uncover the mechanisms of aging, which should give us a better understanding of the origin of the changes that occur. Some claim that with this understanding comes the increasing possibility that we will actually be able to do something about it.

Biologists working with fruit flies activated a gene called PGC-1, which increases the activity of mitochondria, the tiny power generators in cells that control cell growth and tell cells when to live and die.  Result: it slowed the aging process of the flies' intestines and extended their lives by as much as 50 percent.
 
Fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, have a life span of about two months. They start showing signs of aging after about one month - they slow down, become less active and die. They are a good model for studying aging  because scientists know every one of their genes and can switch individual ones on and off.

Higher levels of testosterone have been associated with reduced lean muscle mass loss in older men, especially in those who were losing weight. In thoese men, higher testosterone levels were also associated with less loss of lower body strength.

Loss of muscle mass and strength contribute to frailty and are associated with falls, mobility limitations and fractures. Men also lose more muscle mass and strength than women as they age, suggesting that sex steroids, and testosterone in particular, may contribute to body composition and physical function changes.

Women often gain weight as they age and a new study in Cell Metabolism says the sex hormone estrogen, and estrogen receptor-α (ERα) has an important yet under-appreciated role in those bigger waistlines. 

A study out tomorrow in Nature by researchers from the Institute of Healthy Ageing at the University College of London and colleagues is questioning the anti-aging effects of sirtuin – which is “just”the most important anti-aging gene of the decade - claiming that its capacity to increase longevity was nothing more than an experimental error, and showing that,once the flaws are corrected, sirtuin has no effect on lifespan.

Does playing music lead to less age-related hearing problems or do people without hearing problems continue to play music?

Hearing studies have shown that trained musicians have highly developed auditory abilities compared to non-musicians but a new study concludes hearing abilities in musicians and non-musicians differs, across the age spectrum from 18 to 91 years of age, and that musicians retain a keener ability to  detect and discriminate acoustic information from the environment.

Around 27 million Americans have arthritis, three million of which began with a joint injury that provokes slow and steady cartilage deterioration.

A new study from MIT suggests that glucocorticoid dexamethasone, a steroid drug currently used to treat inflammatory diseases, could also prevent osteoarthritis from ever developing in those people if given soon after the injury.