Aging

Does fasting lead to a longer life?   You never see any really old fat people but that has more to do with other issues than starvation.   

Some studies indicate that caloric restriction does extend life spans in fruit flies, mice and, most recently, rhesus monkeys, apparently by slowing the aging process, but in the case of most, they were also weaned that way from birth, which will get you thrown in jail if you do it to your kids.

Virtually all those studies had been performed in sterile environments, on animals raised under relatively pathogen-free conditions.   Stanford University School of Medicine researchers decided to see if reduced caloric intake also helps creatures cope with infection.
Want to live forever but starving is not for you?   A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences may be more to your liking.
Severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with lower cognitive function in older adults, according to research from Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Researchers compared cognitive performance in over 4,150 adults with and without COPD and found that individuals with severe COPD had significantly lower cognitive function than those without, even after controlling for confounding factors such as comorbidities. 
Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London have discovered that an ingredient in human breast milk called pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor, or PSTI, protects and repairs the delicate intestines of newborn babies.

PSTI is found at its highest levels in colostrum, the milk produced in the first few days after birth.   The lining of a newborn's gut is particularly vulnerable to damage as it has never been exposed to food or drink. The new study highlights the importance of breastfeeding in the first few days after the birth.

The researchers found small amounts of PSTI in all the samples of breast milk they tested but it was seven times more concentrated in colostrum samples. The ingredient was not found in formula milk.
Good day, bad day, in between - this 1 minute video will put a smile on your face. An elderly couple walked in to the Mayo Clinic lobby, saw a piano, and played an impromptu duet. The man, who is turning 90, obviously wasn't there for knee surgery, based on the way he was bopping up and down. Check out the cuteness starting at 0:44 seconds, when they start trading places.

Happy Friday!


A new study says Tai Chi can have positive health benefits for musculoskeletal pain. The results of the first comprehensive analysis, conducted by The George Institute for International Health in Australia, suggests Tai Chi produces positive effects for improving pain and disability among arthritis sufferers. 
Graying hairs that crop up with age could be more than just nature, they could be signs of stress, according to a new report in the June 12 issue of Cell

The researchers say that the kind of "genotoxic stress" that does damage to DNA depletes the melanocyte stem cells (MSCs) within hair follicles that are responsible for making those pigment-producing cells. Rather than dying off, when the going gets tough, those precious stem cells differentiate, forming fully mature melanocytes themselves. Anything that can limit the stress might stop the graying from happening, the researchers said. 
Sleeping pills have been associated with a four-fold increase in suicide risk in the elderly but is it just bad correlation, in that sleeping pills are just a convenient way to commit suicide?   Researchers writing in the BMC Geriatrics say that  after adjusting for the presence of psychiatric conditions sedatives and hypnotics were both associated with an increased risk of suicide.

Anders Carlsten and Margda Waern from Gothenburg University carried out a case control study to determine whether specific types of psychoactive drugs were associated with suicide risk in later life.

Oxidative stress has been linked to aging, cancer and other diseases in humans. Paradoxically, researchers have suggested that small exposure to oxidative conditions may actually offer protection from acute doses. Now, scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have discovered the gene responsible for this effect. Their study, published in PLoS Genetics on May 29, explains the underlying mechanism of the process that prevents cellular damage by reactive oxygen species (ROS).

A recent study of adult neural stem cells suggests a new route for research and development of  treatments for neurodegenerative disease in elderly patients.

Within the last 20 years neuroscientists have shown that new neurons are generated in the brain throughout the lifespan. This finding opened a new area of research aimed at understanding if adult neural stem cells can be used in therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.

A challenge with this approach is that there are fewer neural stem cell in the aged brain and the loss of stem cells occurs at just the time when neurodegenerative diseases are most common. But a new study is providing important information that neural stem from an aged brain still have the capacity to mature into functional neurons.