When an extensive study was done in Taiwan on 4,20,000 randomly selected adults (men and women) for 10 years, it was found that compared with individuals in a totally inactive control group, those in the low-volume activity group, (who exercised for an average of 92 minutes per week) had a 14 per cent reduced risk of all-cause mortality and a three year longer life expectancy. Every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise beyond the minimum amount of 15 minutes a day further reduced all-cause mortality by 4 per cent and all-cancer mortality by 1 per cent. These benefits were applicable to all age groups and both sexes. So the minimum required is probably 15 minutes a day (90 minutes a week) of moderate-intensity exercise. CLICK & READ : Fun ways to keep fit in your office
Source: Published in The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)
Exceptional longevity results from favourable genes much more than from a healthy lifestyle and environment, according to the first extensive genetic analysis of people who lived past the age of 100.
Researchers at Boston University have identified 150 genetic variants that, taken together, can predict exceptional longevity with 77 per cent accuracy.
The scientists compared the genomes of 1,055 centenarians with a similar number of control subjects, using DNA-scanning technology. They distilled the differences down to 150 life-extending changes, each affecting one chemical “letter” in the 3bn letters of the human genetic code.
These changes run right across the human genome. A few affect genes associated with age-related diseases, such as the ApoE and Alzheimer’s but many have unknown functions.
“Longevity is an extremely complex genetic trait involving many biological processes,” said Thomas Perls, co-author of the paper and director of the New England Centenarian Study. “We’re a long way from understanding them.”
The research confirmed that there could be no simple “elixir” to extend life, he added.
The scientists were surprised to find that, on the whole, the centenarians did not have fewer genetic variants known to trigger disease than the controls.
“What makes a difference is more the positive enriching effect of genetic variants that protect against disease than the absence of disease-associated variants,” said Dr Perls.
Although the details remain a mystery, what seems to happen as people age is that lifestyle and environment – such as healthy eating, exercising and avoiding smoking and obesity – are important in determining lifespan up to the 80s. After that, genes play an increasingly important role.
DNA rather than lifestyle is almost entirely responsible for generating “super-centenarians” who survive beyond 110. They make up one in 7m people in the industrial world.
Eighty-five per cent of centenarians and 90 per cent of super-centenarians are women. In spite of claims of people living to 140 or 150 in places from the Andes to the Caucasus, Jeanne Calment, who died in France in 1997 at the age of 122, remains the world’s oldest documented person.
Paola Sebastiani, professor of biostatistics at Boston University, said all data from the longevity study would be available without restrictions. “We have no financial interests in it and we are not planning to patent anything here,” she said.
Researchers will put up a web page this month where people can calculate their prospect of longevity. They also expect companies that sell genetic tests to consumers quickly to include a longevity assessment.
A miraculous ‘elixir of youth’ which could extend the human life span by more than a decade is being developed by scientists.
The anti-ageing pill was created from a chemical found in the soil of Easter Island – one of the most remote and mysterious places on the planet.
In tests on animals, the chemical increased life expectancy by a staggering 38 per cent.
While the breakthrough sounds like something out of science fiction, scientists say the discovery is a major leap towards longer lives for everyone.
It is also employed in heart operations and is being tested for its anti-cancer properties.
The scientists believe that the drug could be developed within a decade.
Dr Arlan Richardson, who led the research at the University of Texas, said: ‘I never thought we would find an anti-ageing pill for people in my lifetime. However, rapamycin shows a great deal of promise to do just that.’
In a world where people routinely live to 90 and 100, retirement ages would need to creep forward into the 70s while extended life spans would put enormous pressures on healthcare, housing and social services – as well as marriages.
The implications of a such a pill also depends on the quality of those extra years.
If an ageing drug delays every aspect of getting old, then users could enjoy 100 years of good health.
But if it simply postpones death, they could find their last few decades blighted by failing eyesight, hearing loss, frailty and dementia.
Rapamycin was discovered in the 1970s during a worldwide search for new antibiotics.
The chemical is produced by a microbe that lives in the Easter Island soil.
In its current form, the drug is too dangerous to hand out as an anti-ageing pill.
The compound suppresses the immune system and makes patients vulnerable to any viruses and bacteria.
The existing version of the drug also increases the risk of cancer and would need to be modified before using in human trials.
However, researchers believe the new discovery will lead them to similar – but less harmful – anti-therapies.
In the study, reported today in the journal Nature, scientists tested rapamycin on nearly 2,000 laboratory mice aged around 600 days – roughly the equivalent to a 60-year-old person.
Around a quarter of the mice were given a normal diet, the others the Easter Island chemical.
Land of mythical statues: Easter Island soil provided the anti-ageing chemical
The drug increased the maximum life span of the mice from 1,094 days to 1,245 days for females, and from 1,078 to 1,179 days for males.
From the point the mice began the treatment, the drug extended the females’ life expectancy by 38 per cent, and males by 28 per cent. Overall it expanded their life span by 9 to 14 per cent.
What amazed the scientists is that the drug worked even though the mice started to be given it only in middle and old age.
Until now, scientists have developed just two ways of extending the life span of mammals.
One is to tinker with their genes, the other to restrict their diet.
Repeated studies have shown that cutting calories can make animals and people live longer.
Experts believe that rapamycin – which acts on a protein in cells called TOR – might fool the body into thinking that calories are being restricted. British scientists described the findings as exciting – but stressed that rapamycin weakens the immune system, exposing patients to potentially dangerous diseases.
In its current form, an extended life span would come at the cost of having to live in a germ-free tent.
Researchers want to find another more subtle drug target that extends life, but which does not damage the immune system.
Dr Lynne Cox, researcher in ageing at Oxford University, said: ‘In no way should anyone consider using this particular drug to try to extend their own life span as rapamycin suppresses immunity. While the lab mice were protected from infection, that’s simply impossible in the human population.
‘What the study does is to highlight an important molecular pathway that new, more specific drugs might be designed to work on.
‘Whether it’s a sensible thing to try to increase life span this way is another matter: Perhaps increasing health span rather than overall life span might be a better goal.’
Nothing in gerontology comes close to fulfilling the promise of a dramaticallyextended life span — despite bold claims to the contrary.
“I have little doubt that gerontologists will eventually find a way to avoid, or more likely, delay, the unpleasantries of extended life,” says S. Jay Olshansky, author of “The Quest for Immortality: Science at the Frontiers of Aging.” But they’re not there yet.
For now, what researchers are finding is that, although we can certainly accelerate the aging process, we can’t stop it.
People don’t like to accept that our life spans are generally preset by genetics. “The only control we have over our life span is to shorten it,” says Olshansky, an epidemiology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. We do this by being sedentary, smoking, gaining weight and abusing drugs.
Olshansky adds: “If we do everything right, the best we can do is live out our potential with as little age-related disease and disability as possible.”
In the United States today the average life span for women is 80 and for men it’s 75. Of the planet’s current 6.5 billion inhabitants, no more than 25 people are older than 110. Jeanne Calment of Arles, France, who died in 1997 at age 122 1/2 , set the record for the greatest documented age reached by any human.
Researchers who study centenarians (people who live to 100) and super centenarians (those who live beyond 110) appreciate how rare it is to attain that age. They also understand how ridiculous it is to claim that people alive today can expect to live to age 125, which is what some longevity proponents claim is achievable.
“Saying that is inconceivably irresponsible,” says Tom Perls, a geriatrician and director of the New England Centenarian Study. That said, he does believe we can borrow from the successes, if not the genes, of people who’ve lived to be 100. “I wouldn’t be devoting my life to studying centenarians if I didn’t think something would come of it.”
There isn’t a cure for aging because it isn’t a disease, says Laurence Rubenstein, geriatrician at UCLA Medical Center. “It’s a natural and complex process that involves every system in the body.” That individuals age unevenly at vastly different rates suggests that genes, lifestyle and disease can all affect the rate of aging.
Our risk of dying increases as we get older because more can go wrong, says Olshanksy, citing what those in the field call increased competitive risks. “If you do an autopsy on an 85-year-old who died of a stroke, you will find five other things that person was about to die from.”
While research continues to look at ways to help people live longer and healthier, Perls is looking at populations that seem to do that better than most.
The Seventh-day Adventists are such a group: They live to an average age of 88, or about 10 years longer than other people in the country. They don’t smoke. They tend to be lean and fit and get regular exercise. They eat a largely vegetarian diet and spend a lot of time involved with family and religion, which scientists think helps them manage stress.
“If everyone in our country adopted those behaviors, the payoff would be huge,” said Perls, an associate professor of geriatrics at Boston University Medical Center. He would add one more piece of advice to the list:
We need to dream regularly as a vital release for our emotions, a leading psychologist says. Like yoga for the soul.
It has become one of the most cherished neuroses of Western culture that we exist in a state of acute sleep deprivation, a dearth to which legions of casual complaints and magazine headlines testify. Nevertheless, the psychologist and sleep guru Rubin Naiman is equally disturbed by another deficit: namely, that 21st-century society is undergoing an epidemic of dreamlessness.
He says it is vital to dream. “An essential function of dreaming is psychological stretching, a kind of yoga for the soul: gently expanding, releasing, opening, and softening.” Like stretching a muscle, a dream can release emotional pain, tightness from earlier in the day – or even hurt from childhood. Dreaming provides “a poetic cushion” for our sharply literal lives, he says.
Modern lifestyles interfere with healthy dreaming. Overexposure to light at night suppresses melatonin and thus dreaming. Many commonly used medications, including sleeping pills, also restrict our ability to dream, or the REM [rapid eye movement] sleep that yields it. Sleep apnoea, usually associated with snoring, can significantly diminish dreaming too. “And, last, but certainly not least,” Dr Naiman says, “we live in a world where the dream has become devalued. ‘Forget it,’ we say to a loved one who has a nightmare, it’s just a dream’.”
The majority of dreams flit by in episodes of between five and 20 minutes, four or five times a night. Nevertheless, during an average life span, this nightly couple of hours will add up to a good six years enmeshed in fantasy. From the 1940s to 1985 the psychologist Calvin S. Hall collated more than 50,000 dream narratives at Case Western Reserve University, Ohio. He argued that sleepers the world over conjure the same sort of visions. Universal motifs include: education, being chased, an inability to move, tardiness, nudity and humiliation, flying, shedding of teeth, death, falling in love with or having intercourse with random individuals, car accidents and being accused of a crime.
Anxiety is the most common emotion experienced and negative sentiments tend to be more prevalent (or better recalled). America ranks the highest among industrialised nations for aggression in dreams, while sexual themes occur about a tenth of the time.
Theories about the function of dreams differ radically from the notion that they are Nature’s own form of psychotherapy to their being merely the brain’s mode of dejunking. Dr Naiman’s take is a fusion of the practical and the poetic. “Dreaming plays a critical role in learning and the formation of certain kinds of memory. It also helps us to heal from emotional losses.
“Much of the depression explosion we witness today is associated with an actual loss of dreams,” he says. If we cannot sleep on it, so the evidence suggests, the “it” in question may threaten to overwhelm us.
How might such a deficit be rectified? Better sleep as a whole will conjure better dreams. Thus, the dreamless are advised to avail themselves of the potions born of Dr Naiman’s collaboration with Origins, the natural skincare company: products designed to get us back to what he terms “deep-green sleep”, that is, chemical-free repose in a nurturing environment.
Beyond this, it may not be too complicated. “The simple act of directing our attention back towards our dreams will encourage them to come out of hiding,” he says. Once they begin to flow, make a note of them and share them. “The bottom line is about befriending our dreams and remaining open to all they bring.”
Another reason that we turn away from dreams is that so many of them are, in fact, “bad”. One study suggests that about two thirds of the emotional content of our dreams is negative. But they are bad only when viewed from a waking perspective. “We are a wake-centric culture,” he says. “We presume that waking consciousness is it: the gold standard for our experiences, happiness, sanity.”
He says that youngsters should be encouraged to talk about their dreams. “So many learn that dreams are of little consequence in the adult world … so, although they may experience them vividly, they tend to avoid discussing them and lose interest.” Parents, he says, should ask their children about their dreams, as well as share their own.
So what he advocates is an embrace of deep-green dreaming? “Why not? Healthy dreaming and healthy sleep are reciprocal. I dream best in deep-green forests.”
Sweet dreams :-
Limit your exposure to artificial light
This includes television screens, because the blue component restricts melatonin and thus dreaming. Invest in some blue light-eliminating bulbs and glasses (www.lowblue lights.com) or opt for candlelight.
Avoid excess alcohol and dream-suppressing medications
But you must treat conditions such as sleep apnoea that may interfere with dreaming. Melatonin, which requires a prescription in the UK, is a safe way to rekindle dreaming.
Look at dreaming as a form of psychological stretching
Keep a dream journal and discuss your dreams with your family and friends. Encourage children not to feel inhibited about sharing their nocturnal adventures.
Try to foster an awareness that you are dreaming when it’s happening
This is especially important when it comes to nightmares. Yield to the message of a nightmare rather than becoming embroiled in it