Quest for the Fountain of Youth

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Longevity is knocking on our doors :-

The first man or woman who could live to be 150 may well be reading this. Longevity — for long a favourite subject of science fiction writers — is knocking on our doors. And since the frontiers of cutting edge tech are often the fantastical sci-fi pages, it’s not surprising that the claim should be made by Professor Gregory Benford, an award winning sci-fi writer and professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine.


Benford’s California-based company Genescient is hot on the pursuit of the elixir of life: through a gene formula.

And it’s happening in our own backyards. Genescient’s first longevity product — to be ready for human trials later this year — will be tested at a laboratory in Bangalore. Genescient’s patent advisor also is an Indian.

The company uses directed evolution techniques — molecular biology methods that mimic natural evolution in laboratory conditions — to produce long-lived animals. The genomics of these animals are used to find critical pathways to longevity. “Using those, we find substances, some from traditional Indian medicine, interestingly, to devise pills to enhance the longevity pathways we already have. Those are our first products — arrived at by further testing on animals, to be sure they work and have no bad side effects,” he says.

Benford, one of the large fraternity seeking to expand human lifespan and enhance maturing years, was a panellist at a session on longevity at a conference on the big innovation trends held in November 2008. A co-panellist, anti-ageing expert Terry Grossman, announced to a full hall that the face-off was between ageing, a disease, and growing older as a natural process. “Ageing is not a natural disease. It’s possible to grow older without ageing,” Grossman, also a naturopath and homoeopath, maintained.

In India, too, there has been some sporadic yet commendable research. Madhu Sudan Kanungo, an emeritus professor at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, and Kalluri Subba Rao, now with Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University, Hyderabad, have been studying ageing from the seventies.

Much before the advent of sophisticated techniques, Kanungo’s team discovered how the production of certain critical proteins by genes begins to fall in the thirties. They have found that by arresting the decline of many of these proteins, vital for the functioning of the brain and maintaining hormone levels, lifespans can be extended.

Rao’s studies, which started nearly 35 years ago, underline how diminished DNA repair in the brain is linked to ageing. Unlike most other cells in the body, brain cells don’t undergo any division to create new ones. So repair is the only way to maintain a healthy brain, says he.

Hundreds of companies and one-person armies are engaged in the mission of searching for longevity and life enhancing solutions. Three years ago Stanford University started its own Longevity Centre “to improve the course of human ageing,” exploring the gamut from policy to commercial solutions. It isn’t just about cosmetic enhancement but disease prevention through active intervention.

Undeniably, lifespans have increased. According to data from the United Nations, the Japanese and Icelanders top the list of life expectancy with an average of 82 years. In contrast, Swaziland is 40 per cent below the world average with just 39 years.

India’s average life expectancy is 64.7 years but there is one community that outlives most others: Parsis, who live well into their 80s.

Their longevity with comparative mobility (with also a preponderance of ailments such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) is the subject of a gene study that aims to break their secret of long life.

Avesthagen, a Bangalore-based biotech company, in partnership with some international companies, is studying the gene pool of the Parsis in its project Avestagenome. One aim is to find the molecular basis for longevity, says Dr Sami N. Guzder, head of the science and innovation division at Avesthagen.

“We are looking for biomarkers that could be used for diagnostics. Not everyone may have those distinct biomarkers,” he says. New biomarkers are constantly being discovered. But, Guzder cautions, the research is still in its early days — at least five years before any findings are put out for peer review.

Elsewhere too, companies are busy digging into the secrets of longevity.

Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a part of GlaxoSmithKline now, exploits sirtuin enzymes believed to be connected to the ageing process. Resveratrol, found abundantly in red wine, is another example of a much-in-demand, commercially sold, naturally produced plant antibiotic that is said to have anti-ageing properties.

Benford’s company bought Methuselah fruit flies, which through selective breeding over 28 years resulted in a lifespan 4.5 times longer than normal. The fruit flies were created by evolutionary biologist Michael Rose who through lab work brought about mutation in their genes, causing them to live 35 per cent longer than the average fly. Flies have 75 per cent genes in common with humans.

Given the medical and scientific research there is no reason one shouldn’t live till 1,000 years, said another of the November conference speakers, Aubrey de Grey. He is chairman of the Methuselah Foundation, UK, which gives the Mprize for scientific research to produce the longest living mice. And Methuselah, as the Biblical story goes, lived for 969 years.

Some believe that immortality is round the corner. Grossman has co-authored a book called Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever with futurist Ray Kurzweil, on how medical advances, biotechnology and nanotechnology will deliver radical life extension, and within decades, discover immortality. Kurzweil, 60, takes 250 supplements a day and Grossman, 61, about 60. The idea is to be ready by the time artificial intelligence and nanotechnology deliver the holy grail of sweeping longevity.

“Thwarting ageing is a broad issue, beyond conventional medicine. Supplements to enhance our pathways that let some live longer are the crucial frontier,” says Benford, still youthful in his sixties.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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News on Health & Science

Mediterranean Diet ‘Cuts Cancer’

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Adopting just a couple of elements of the Mediterranean diet could cut the risk of cancer by 12%, say scientists.


The Mediterranean Pyramid
The Mediterranean diet begins with the same basis of lots of grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Major differences from the USDA pyramid include:
• Using olive oil as the primary fat
• Allowing for only moderate amounts of milk products
• Using fish and poultry, rather than red meat, as the main source of high protein food from animals
• Including wine with meals

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruit and vegetables

A study of 26,000 Greek people found just using more olive oil alone cut the risk by 9%.

The diet, reports the British Journal of Cancer, also includes higher amounts of fruits, vegetables, cereals, and less red meat.

A separate study found adding broccoli to meals might help men vulnerable to prostate cancer cut their risk.

The Mediterranean diet came under scrutiny after researchers noticed lower rates of illnesses such as heart disease in countries such as Spain and Greece.

They noticed that people living there generally ate more vegetables and fish, less red meat, cooked in olive oil and drank moderate amounts of alcohol.

The latest study is one of the largest yet to look at the potential impact on cancer of the various parts of this diet.

‘No superfood’

Researchers from Harvard University persuaded thousands of Greek people of various ages to record their food intake over an eight-year-period.

Their adherence to the Mediterranean diet was ranked using a scoring system, and the group with the worst score compared with those who followed a couple of aspects of the diet, and those who followed it the most closely.

The biggest effect they found – a 9% reduction in risk – was achieved simply by eating more “unsaturated” fats such as olive oil.

But just two changes – eating less red meat, and more peas, beans and lentils, cut the risk of cancer by 12%.

Dr Dimitrios Trichopoulos, who led the study, said: “Adjusting one’s overall dietary habits towards the traditional Mediterranean pattern had an important effect.”

Sara Hiom, from Cancer Research UK, said the research highlighted the importance of a healthy balanced diet.

“It shows there are a number of things you can do, and there is no one ‘superfood’ that can stop you developing the disease” says Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK

Broccoli benefit

The other study suggesting that food had the power to prevent cancer came from the Institute of Food Research in Norwich.
Broccoli may help ward off prostate cancer:- CLICK & SEE
Scientists compared the effects of adding 400 grams of broccoli or peas a week to the diet of men at high risk of prostate cancer – and in the case of broccoli found differences in the activity of genes in the prostate which other studies have linked to cancer.

Their findings raised the possibility that broccoli, or other “cruciferous” vegetables, such as cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, could help prevent or slow down the disease, particularly if the man had a particular gene variant – GSTM1.

Professor Richard Mithen, who led the research, published in the Public Library of Science journal, said: “Eating two or three portions of cruciferous vegetables per week, and maybe a few more if you lack the GSTM1 gene – should be encouraged.”

Professor Karol Sikora, medical director of CancerPartnersUK, said the study was the first time in a properly controlled clinical trial that broccoli had been shown to change the expression of specific genes in the prostate gland.

“Although the observation period was too short and the numbers too small to show that the incidence of cancer actually fell, it is the first clear demonstration that broccoli and presumably other cruciferous vegetables may well reduce cancer risk.”

You may click to see:->Mediterranean diet benefits

>Diet Plans & Weight

>The Food Groups and the Food Pyramid

Sources: BBC NEWS:July 2, ’08

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Healthy Tips

Walking is a very good exercise

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Walking is a very good exercise…. this advice should be given to those who are above 30 years old or who may have some heart problem or other physical problems or are totally unable to do other exercises .But some times I find young people specially, young girls taking brisk walk in the park instead of playing in the field. They might think that they are doing lot of exercises by walking a long distances.According to me, walking is definitely good, it is refreshing,soothing and pleasant but it is not at all a full exercise for young people.They should rather play in the field, or swim or do other form of exercise which will really burn the required calories to be burnt by exercises.

But it is the best form of exercise for the people who doesnot get proper time or interest for doing any other exercise to keep the body fit.


5 surprising benefits of walking:
The next time you have a check-up, don’t be surprised if your doctor hands you a prescription to walk. Yes, this simple activity that you’ve been doing since you were about a year old is now being touted as “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug,” in the words of Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of course, you probably know that any physical activity, including walking, is a boon to your overall health. But walking in particular comes with a host of benefits. Here’s a list of five that may surprise you.

1. It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes. Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.

2. It helps tame a sweet tooth. A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.

3. It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.

4. It eases joint pain. Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.

5. It boosts immune function. Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.

To learn more about the numerous benefits of walking, as well as easy ways to incorporate a walk into your daily routine, buy Walking for Health, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School

You carry your own body weight when you walk. This is sometimes called    weight bearingâ exercise. Some of the benefits include:

  • Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes
  • Stronger bones and improved balance
  • Increased muscle strength and endurance
  • Reduced body fat.


To get the health benefits, try to walk for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can most days of the week. ˜Brisk  means that you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. Moderate activities such as walking pose little health risk but, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program of physical activity.



If it’s too difficult to walk for 30 minutes at one time, do regular small bouts (10 minutes) three times per day. If you want to lose weight, you will need to do physical activity for longer than 30 minutes each day. You can achieve this by starting with smaller bouts of activity throughout the day, as suggested above, and eventually building up to sessions of more than 30 minutes.

Physical activity built into a daily lifestyle plan is also one of the most effective ways to assist with weight loss and keep weight off once it’s lost. Here are some ways to build walking into your daily routine:

  • Try taking the stairs instead of the lift (for at least part of the way).
  • Get off public transport one stop earlier and walk to work or home.
  • Do housework like vacuuming ,gardening and mowing the lawn(with hand mower)
  • Walk (don’t drive) to the local shops.
  • Walk the dog .