Friday, June 23, 2017

Yoga and meditation reduce the risk of cancer by changing our DNA

Yoga and meditation reduce our risk of cancer by changing our DNA, new research reveals.

People who practice so-called mind-body interventions (MBI), such as yoga, meditation and Tai Chi, produce significantly lower amounts of molecules that activate inflammation-causing genes, a study review found.

Inflammation has been linked to cancer, accelerated aging and poor mental health.

Lead investigator Ivana Buric from the University of Coventry, said: 'Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of MBIs like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don't realise is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.

'Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.' 

Researchers from the universities of Coventry and Radboud analysed 18 studies with 846 participants conducted over 11 years.

Studies were included in the analysis if they measured gene expression after a MBI.

Results revealed people who practice MBIs produce significantly lower amounts of molecules that activate inflammation-causing genes.

These molecules are released after a stressful event due to the 'fight or flight' response.

Inflammation has been linked to cancer, accelerated ageing and poor mental health. 

Ms Buric said: 'Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don't realise is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.

'These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. 

'Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.' 

The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

The researchers believe the inflammation-causing fight-or-flight response, which is involved in wound healing, would have played an important role when we were hunter-gatherers due to there being a higher risk of infection from wounds.

Today, however, when stress is often long term and more internal than injury-related, inflammation-causing gene expression can be persistent and cause medical problems.

Ms Buric said: 'More needs to be done to understand these effects in greater depth, for example how they compare with other healthy interventions like exercise or nutrition.

'But this is an important foundation to build on to help future researchers explore the benefits of increasingly popular mind-body activities.' 

Also read:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Organic IS healthier: Vegetables grown without pesticides have higher antioxidant levels

Products grown without using toxic chemicals, which can cost twice as much as a result, contain higher levels of flavonols. These vegetables have 20 per cent more of the antioxidants, which prevent damage to the body, an Irish study suggests.

It comes five years after a major review of more than 200 studies concluded that organic food offered no nutritional benefit.  

However, the new Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown, investigation is the longest-running study to address the issue.

The findings will be welcomed by organic farmers, whose claims their food is more nutritious have previously been rubbished by the government watchdog.

How was the study carried out?

Researchers assessed the levels of flavonoids and antioxidants in 'Red Baron' and 'Hyskin' onions between 2009 and 2014.

These forms of the vegetable are known to be high in quercetin - hailed by scientists for its cancer-fighting properties. 

A range of crops, grown either organically or using pesticides, were measured for their levels of the compounds, according to the report published in the ACS' Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

What did they find? 

As well as being higher in flavonoids, the researchers also found that antioxidant activity was higher in both varieties of organic onions.

To be certified as organic, farmers are unable to use the strong chemical weedkillers and pesticides on their vegetables. 

Instead, they use natural forms of growing crops in time for their harvest, such as biological pest control and rotation. 

However, due to this method of farming being less efficient, it costs more to produce - explaining the higher price of such vegetables.

Also read:

Friday, June 2, 2017

Transfusions of young blood may protect against Alzheimer's, heart disease and cancer

It appears Dracula may have been onto something when he drank the blood of young maidens to stop him aging.

Older people given transfusions of blood from younger adults are at a lower risk of cancer, dementia and heart disease, new research shows.

In groundbreaking trials on humans, scientists appear to have confirmed the long-standing myth that such injections can reverse aging. 

Ambrosia, a start-up firm based in San Francisco, has been testing the horror-movie inspired technique to assess its benefits.

It is similar to that of former North Korean dictator Kim Il-Sung who was said to take blood from people in their twenties to try to live to 100. 

Jesse Karmazin, founder of the company, told New Scientist: 'I don't want to say the word panacea, but there's something about teenagers.

'Whatever is in young blood is causing changes that appear to make the aging process reverse.'

How did they carry out the study? 
The findings came from blood tests that were taken both before and a month after 70 participants were given the radical treatment.

All of those involved were at least 35 and had paid $8,000 (£6,200) to be part of the experiment out of their own pocket.

They were given plasma - the main component of blood - from volunteers aged between 16 and 25.

What did they find? 

Researchers noted improvements in biomarkers of various major diseases, also known of indicators
for certain conditions. This included a 10 per cent reduction in blood cholesterol, of which high levels are known to lead to heart disease.

Other effects noted by the scientists were a 20 per cent reduction in proteins called carcinoembryonic antigens. These can be seen in high quantities in people who have various forms of cancer, the website reports, but it remains to be seen whether.

The younger blood also helped to slash amyloid protein levels, which forms toxic clumps in the brains of dementia patients, by a fifth.  

In particular, one 55-year-old patient with early onset Alzheimer's began to show improvements in his condition after just one transfusion. Mr Karmazin said that another, slightly older, woman affected worse by the disease is showing similar improvements. He reported some of the firm's findings, which suggested people will receive the most benefit from two injections a year, at the Recode conference in Los Angeles yesterday.  

However, he hinted it's possible some of the effects of could have been imagined by those who were desperate to see results after paying so much. 

Scientists have long studied the effects of young blood on animals, but have come across a mixed bag of results.

Just last month US research suggested that the blood from human umbilical cords could be the key ingredient for a ‘fountain of youth’ drug.

The Stanford University team discovered a protein found with the plasma can reverse the effects of age-related mental decline.

However, experts at The Ottawa Hospital made a much different finding last July. They noted how blood donations from young women may be linked to poorer survival rates in recipients. 

Also read:

Going to the beach changes your brain for the better

You've probably noticed how spending a day at the water can make you feel more relaxed, rested and re-energized. That feeling is not all in your head, scientists say when we spend time by the water, our brain actually changes.

Our minds are sent into a restful almost hypnotic space thanks to the soothing smells and sounds of the water. Researchers refer to this as "blue space."

Here's what a visit at the beach, or really a trip to the lake or any other body of water, can do:

Boosts creativity

Being in a blue space makes you more creative, because 
it allows your brain to become relaxed, so you are more likely to drift off and imagine than you would be when thrust in the middle of the often chaotic day-to-day world.

Stress melts away

If you put your toes in the water, or go for a swim, that water is filled with naturally occurring positive ions that are known to help relieve stress and boost your mood. Some scientists believe that the positive ions given off by the many appliances we use on a regular basis can leave us feeling angry, cranky, and overworked. Naturally occurring negative ions counteract all of this.

It reduces depression

The sounds of the waves can put you into a meditative state which has been associated with reduced depression and better mental clarity.

Your perspective is changed for the better

Being in a place surrounded by beautiful scenery, the sounds of the water and simply the presence of nature is incredibly soothing to the soul. It reminds us that there are things bigger on this planet than a traffic jam or a snarky co-worker.

Also read:

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Is this the fountain of youth? Methylene blue shows promise reversing aging in human skin

Don't be surprised if in a few years television commercials for skin cream start touting that they are "now formulated with methylene blue." That's because research out of the University of Maryland (UMD) has shown that the common antioxidant can reverse the effects of aging on our skin.

The dye has been used in medicine for more than 140 years for a variety of things - from staining bodily tissue during surgery to killing bacteria in urinary tract infections. It works by destroying disease-causing free radicals. Recently it's shown promise in fighting Alzheimer's disease. 

And now scientists at the University of Maryland have found another use: anti-aging.  

Lead author Professor Zheng-Mei Xiong said: 'Methylene blue demonstrates a great potential to delay skin aging for all ages.'

The researchers tested it for four weeks in skin cells from healthy middle-aged donors and octogenarians as well as patients diagnosed with progeria - a rare genetic disease that ages them quickly.

Methylene blue - first synthesized in 1876 - out-performed three other antioxidants N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), MitoQ and MitoTEMPO (mTEM).

Fibroblasts - skin cells that produce the structural protein collagen - experienced a decrease in damaging reactive oxygen species, a reduced rate of death and an increase in the rate of cell division throughout the treatment.

Anything that helps maintain collagen levels in the skin will keep it looking younger as natural levels of start to fall in your mid-30s. By the age of 55 they may have fallen by 40 percent. Less collagen means skin that sags and wrinkles.

Prof Kan Cao said: 'Our work suggests methylene blue could be a powerful antioxidant for use in skin care products.

'The effects we are seeing are not temporary. Methylene blue appears to make fundamental, long-term changes to skin cells.'

Antioxidants help counteract the effects of free radicals - unstable molecules in our body's cells which help speed up the ageing process,

The expression of two genes commonly used as indicators of cellular aging - senescence-associated beta-galactosidase and p16 - were decreased in the cells from older donors.

Prof Xiong said: 'I was encouraged and excited to see skin fibroblasts, derived from individuals more than 80 years old, grow much better in methylene blue-containing medium with reduced cellular senescence markers.'

The researchers whose findings are published in Scientific Reports then used simulated human skin they themselves developed to perform several more experiments.

The 3D model made of living skin cells includes all the major layers and structures of with the exception of hair follicles and sweat glands.

Prof Cao said it could also be used in skin irritation tests required by the Food and Drug Administration for the approval of new cosmetic products.

She said: 'This system allowed us to test a range of aging symptoms that we can't replicate in cultured cells alone.

'Most surprisingly we saw model skin treated with methylene blue retained more water and increased in thickness - both of which are features typical of younger skin.'

When methylene blue was added to cosmetic creams it caused little to no irritation - even at high concentrations. The researchers plan to develop safe and effective ways for consumers to benefit from its properties.

Prof Cao said: 'We have already begun formulating cosmetics that contain methylene blue. Now we are looking to translate this into marketable products..

'Perhaps down the road we can customize the system with bioprinting, such that we might be able to use a patient's own cells to provide a tailor-made testing platform specific to their needs.' 

Also read:

Just 10 minutes of meditation does wonders for your brain

Sitting down to clear your mind for just 10 minutes is enough to overcome stress and anxiety, a study claims.

New research revealed that a short stint of meditation will help block out the internal thoughts of restless people and allow them to concentrate.

The report from the University of Waterloo in Canada is the latest to demonstrate the benefits of meditation. Past studies have found self-reflection and deep thinking can even slow aging and help to fight off disease.

According to Mengran Xu, a researcher and PhD candidate at the university, taking a few minutes a day to meditate will allow for more concentration.

He said: 'Mind wandering accounts for nearly half of any person's daily stream of consciousness. For people with anxiety, repetitive off-task thoughts can negatively affect their ability to learn, to complete tasks, or even function safely.' 

The study asked 82 people who describe themselves as anxious to perform a task on a computer with random interruptions throughout the assignment.

Those who had a short meditation beforehand outperformed the other half who didn't.

Xu added: 'We also found that meditation practice appears to help anxious people to shift their attention from their own internal worries to the present-moment external world, which enables better focus on a task at hand.'

Meditation has been linked with beneficiary health results in the past, including fighting off diseases, and reducing stress and depression.

The popular exercise instructs people to focus on their present emotions and current sensations. 

Women experienced significant improvements in their emotional state, compared to men who had much lower results.

Also read:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The remarkable health benefits of grape seeds

Grapes are one of the most popular fruits in the U.S., but many people neglect to eat what is perhaps their healthiest feature — the seeds. Grape seeds are rich in powerful antioxidants and natural plant compounds called oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs).

OPCs are most well known for their antioxidant activity, which means, at the very least, grape seed may help to destroy free radicals in your body, which in turn may help you avoid premature aging and certain chronic diseases.

However, OPCs also demonstrate a host of other beneficial activities in the body, which may explain why grape seed extract appears to help so many different health conditions while exerting its effects body-wide.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):

"Today, grape seed extract is used as a folk or traditional remedy for conditions related to the heart and blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor circulation …

…  [C]omplications related to diabetes, such as nerve and eye damage; vision problems, such as macular degeneration (which can cause blindness); swelling after an injury or surgery; cancer prevention; and wound healing.

The grape seeds used to produce grape seed extract are generally obtained from wine manufacturers."

OPCs Help make grape seed extract a health superstar

One of grape seed extract's claims to fame is OPCs, which are related to the much more well-known compound resveratrol (found in grape skins). According to the journal Alternative Medicine Review, OPCs not only have antioxidant activity but are also:

  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral
  • Anti-carcinogenic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-allergic
  • Vasodilatory actions

In addition, the journal reported OPCs "have been found to inhibit lipid peroxidation, platelet aggregation, capillary permeability and fragility, and to affect enzyme systems … Based on these reported findings, OPCs may be a useful component in the treatment of a number of conditions."

OPCs may even play a role in cancer prevention. Research published in the journal Prostate found OPCs helped stop the spread of prostate cancer cells and also caused apoptosis (cell death) among prostate cancer cells. Further, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center:

"Studies have found that grape seed extracts may prevent the growth of breast, stomach, colon, prostate, and lung cancer cells in test tubes. However, there is no clear evidence whether it works in humans.

Antioxidants, such as those found in grape seed extract, may help reduce the risk of developing cancer. Grape seed extract may also help prevent damage to human liver cells caused by chemotherapy medications."

Grape seed extract also contains high levels of compounds (procyanidin dimers) that act as aromatase inhibitors. This is likely another way grape seeds may help prevent and treat cancer, specifically hormone-dependent breast cancer.

Aromatase, an enzyme, converts androgen to estrogen and is expressed at higher levels in breast cancer tissues than normal tissues.

Many types of breast cancer are fueled by estrogen, which is why some chemotherapy drugs work by inhibiting the activity of aromatase. Grape seed extract may exert similar effects naturally.

Grape seed for your heart health, skin and brain

The more research that emerges on grape seeds, the more it becomes clear they have wide-reaching health benefits. Grape seeds have been shown to improve flexibility in joints, arteries and body tissues such as your heart, for instance.

Grape seed also helps improve blood circulation by strengthening capillaries, arteries and veins. Additional health benefits include those that follow.

High blood pressure

The antioxidants, including flavonoids, linoleic acid, and phenolic procyanidins, in grape seed extract help protect your blood vessels from damage, which may help prevent high blood pressure.

Grape seed extract has previously been shown to help dilate blood vessels and was shown to lower blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome (most of whom also had prehypertension).

Another study found that a grape seed extract beverage improved blood pressure in people with pre-hypertension, while a single dose of grape seed extract improved blood pressure in hypertensive rats.

Chronic venous insufficiency

The OPCs in grape seed extract may benefit this condition. About 80 percent of those who consumed OPCs had an improvement in symptoms after the first 10 days of treatment. Feelings of heaviness, itching, and pain were reduced significantly.

Bone strength

Grape seed extract has been shown to improve bone formation and bone strength in animal studies.

Swelling (edema)

Grape seed extract has been found to inhibit leg swelling that can occur during prolonged sitting. In addition, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center:

"Edema is common after breast cancer surgery, and one double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that breast cancer patients who took 600 mg of grape seed extract daily after surgery for six months had less edema and pain than those who took placebo.

Another study found that people who took grape seed extract after experiencing a sports injury had less swelling than those who took placebo."

Cognitive decline

Animal studies suggest grape seed extract may reverse hippocampal dysfunction in the brain by reducing oxidative stress and preserving mitochondrial function. Grape seed extract may even be useful as a preventative or therapeutic agent in Alzheimer's disease.

Oral health

Grape seed extract solution led to less demineralization and more remineralization of cavities in one lab study. Since remineralization is an effective treatment that may stop or reverse early tooth decay, grape seed extract could play a beneficial role in oral health.


Grape seed extract administered along with exercise training improved lipid profile, weight loss, blood pressure and other diabetic complications better than either intervention administered alone.

According to researchers, "This [grape seed extract and exercise training] may constitute a convenient and inexpensive therapeutic approach to diabetic complications."

Slight evidence suggests grape seed extract may also be beneficial for:
  • Improving night vision
  • Protecting collagen and elastin in your skin (for anti-aging effects)
  • Treating hemorrhoids
  • Protecting against oxidative rancidity and bacterial pathogens

Can you get the benefits of grape seeds from eating grapes?

If you enjoy snacking on grapes, there's no reason to spit out the seeds (and may be some benefit from eating them). However, to reach therapeutic quantities of grape seeds you'd need to eat a lot of grapes — and this is not recommended since grapes are one of the highest-fructose fruits.

Most grape-seed extract comes from ground-up seeds from grapes used to make red wine. In fact, grape seeds and their extract are considered a byproduct of the wine and grape juice industries.

While you can purchase whole grape seeds to consume for health purposes, they're very bitter. This is actually a good thing, as polyphenols, flavonoids, and other beneficial plant compounds almost always taste bitter — it's a sign they're good for you.

Unfortunately, since most people find them to be unpalatable, "the food industry routinely removes these compounds from plant foods through selective breeding and a variety of debittering processes."If you're willing to get past the bitter taste, then whole grape seeds are an option.

If not, grape seed and grape seed extract is available in supplement form. There is no daily recommended amount at this time, but some studies used doses of between 100 to 300 milligrams/day. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends looking for products that are standardized to 40 percent to 80 percent proanthocyanidins, or an OPC content of not less than 95 percent.

Also read:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

21 Anti-Aging Herbs and Nutrients

If you would like to look and feel younger, there are some herbs and nutrients that just may help you do that.

1. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA): ALA is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your body from free radical damage. It also helps to recycle other antioxidants like vitamins E and C, giving you greater protection against free radicals. Free radicals are to blame for aging and disease, including skin damage and wrinkling.

2. Bilberry: Packed with antioxidants, bilberry is potent medicine against many age-related concerns. It is helpful to preserve vision and prevent degenerative eye diseases.

3. GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid): Declining levels of HGH are linked with many of the symptoms linked with aging: fat gain, muscle loss, loss of energy, poor sleep, skin changes, bone density loss, and a decline in libido. Supplementing with GABA, a natural amino acid helps to maintain levels of HGH naturally, lessening these unwanted symptoms. Avoid GABA if you are prone to seizures.

4. Garlic (Allium sativum): Garlic is renowned for its potent effects on viruses and bacteria, but it also reduces cholesterol levels and helps lower blood pressure. In one Japanese study, garlic slowed age-related memory loss in animals.

5. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba): There is solid scientific research that supports the use of ginkgo to increase blood flow to the brain, one of the areas that is commonly affected by aging. European research shows ginkgo’s capacity to help people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia to become more sociable and alert. You can take 60 to 240 mg of standardized ginkgo extract per day.

6. Ginseng (Panax ginseng): Among the Chinese, ginseng is considered the Fountain of Youth. According to renowned herbalist Dr. James Duke, it tones the skin and muscles, improves appetite and digestion, and restores sexual energy.

7. Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica): Frequently used in India to improve memory and extend longevity, gotu kola is excellent when made into an herbal tea.

8. Horsetail (Equisetum arvense): Loaded with the mineral silicon that often declines with age, horsetail plays a role in increasing the silicon in arteries, skin, bones, cartilage and connective tissues. Horsetail is also available as a tea.

9. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum): Since the liver has more than five hundred functions, including processing and filtering medications and environmental toxins, it can suffer from the stresses of the modern world. Silymarin, an active ingredient in milk thistle stimulates liver cell regeneration to help the liver rebuild after it has been damaged. A standardized extract of 140 mg of silymarin per day is suitable to help protect and repair the liver.

10. Peppermint (Metha peperita): In addition to helping with digestion and gastrointestinal problems linked with aging, peppermint contains antioxidants that help prevent cancer, heart disease, and other age-related disorders. It is readily available as an herbal tea.

11. Turmeric (curcuma longa): Turmeric is powerful against many types of pain and inflammation associated with aging. A spice, commonly used in Indian curries, you can add it to your soups, stews, and curries to benefit from this valuable spice.

12. Frankincense: This herb is often used to fight arthritis. Components of this herbaceous plant are frequently used in numerous anti-aging formulas.

13. Rosemary: The rosemary herb contains numerous active compounds that have displayed powerful anti inflammatory, anti oxidant, and tyrosinase-restraining properties. One such compound, carnosic acid, is potentially neuroprotective. What this means is that it protects the brain cells from free radical damage, which is often seen in things like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

14. Licorice Root: This herbaceous plant includes anti inflammatory and anti oxidant properties. Additionally, it has been proven to guard your skin against harmful ultraviolet rays. Licorice’s active pharmaceutical ingredients contain glycyrrhizin, glycyrrhetinic acid, liquiritins, and more.

15. Neem: This herbaceous plant is highly valued for the way it can restrain bugs and bacteria. Seen to possess hypoglycemic, anti-malarial, and wound-healing properties, neem is also established to have strong free-radical inhibiting and anti oxidant properties.

16. Fenugreek: this is a common kitchen herb. This herb contains vitamin B3 that is instrumental in recovering damaged skin cells. In addition, it contains niacin, which helps in lightening ageing spots and reducing wrinkles that form on the corner of the eyes and lips.

17. Aloe Vera: it is among the most effective herbs for the skin. It is a natural remedy that deals with acne and pimples. Furthermore, it reduces skin wrinkles and increases the youthfulness of the skin. In addition, it improves the elasticity of the skin. 

18. Mullein: it is a herb that is quite beneficial in skin care. It plays a major role in tightening the skin. It acts by increasing circulation within the skin. It also prevents stretch marks and treats scars that occur on the skin. Mullein is considered to be a natural wrinkle fighter since it contains minerals and important vitamins.

19. Witch hazel: it is an effective skin tightening herb that contains some of the most powerful antioxidant properties. This alcohol free witch hazel with aloe vera helps in promoting healing properties as well as reducing skin wrinkles. In the end, it acts by enhancing the quality of the skin glow.

20. Thyme and basil: are well known for helping with skin issues. If you are trying to deal with wrinkles, skin sagging or age spots these two anti aging herbs may be of immense benefit to you.

21. Vitamin D: vitamin D helps protect against bone loss linked with aging, as well as many chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Staying free of these diseases can certainly help you live a longer, healthier life.

Also read: 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Traffic pollution linked to DNA damage - children are more vulnerable

Children and teenagers exposed to high levels of traffic pollution were found to show signs of premature aging, according to new study. 

Researchers in California also found youngsters with asthma had higher levels of a pollutant caused by motor vehicle exhaust. Those with higher levels had a specific type of DNA damage called telomere shortening - the main cause of age-related break down of our cells.

Telomeres are vital to our health - they can be described as the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces.

'Children may be especially vulnerable to the effects of telomeric DNA damage due to their physical development as well as developing immune system,' wrote Dr John Balmes from the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues who carried out the study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

We already know how harmful outdoor air pollution is - it is responsible for about 3.7 million deaths a year according to the World Health Organization. 

Many previous studies have demonstrated that exposure is associated with heart and lung diseases - such as asthma, lung cancer, ischemic heart disease, and stroke. Despite this mounting evidence, the exact underlying mechanisms by which air pollutants cause this is not clear, the authors note. The new preliminary study suggests telomeres may be the key to understanding how pollution exposure leads to adverse health outcomes. 

The study analyzed 14 children and adolescents living in Fresno, California - the second-most polluted city in the US.

The researchers assessed the relationship between an 'ubiquitous' motor vehicle exhaust air pollutant called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and shortening of telomeres.

As the exposure to PAHs increased, telomere length decreased. Children and teenagers with asthma were exposed to higher PAH levels than those without asthma.

The relationship between PAH level and telomere shortening remained significant after adjustments for asthma and other factors (age, sex, and race/ethnicity) weer made. 

Previous studies suggest that telomere length is linked to progression in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

It also suggests that children may have 'different telomere shortening regulation than adults' - which might make them more vulnerable to the damaging effects of air pollution.  

The authors wrote, 'Our results suggest that telomere length may have potential for use as a biomarker of DNA damage due to environmental exposures and/or chronic inflammation.

'Greater knowledge of the impact of air pollution at the molecular level is necessary to design effective interventions and policies.' 

Telomeres are shortened as we age, but telomeres can also be shortened by stress, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and a poor diet, previous research has shown. 

Also read: 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Just 30 minutes of jogging a day could add 9 YEARS to your lifespan

Just 30 minutes of jogging a day for five days a week could extend your lifespan by up to 10 years, a new study claims.

New research shows that those who exercise regularly can slow down the aging of cells.

The workouts have to be high intensity for the effect to be strong enough, researchers say.

Experts at Brigham Young University determined there was a difference of nine and seven years at a cellular level between those who did intense workouts on a regular basis compared to those who did moderate exercises.

Women, they found, need to jog for up to 30 minutes a day for five days a week in order to slow down cell aging. For men, it's 40 minutes.

It could even stave off the onset of wrinkles and graying hair. 

For young people, cells throughout the body are strong which translates into smooth and firm skin, shiny, full hair and lots of energy.

As the years pass, the strength of cells diminishes and they suffer breakage. Outwardly this is shown through wrinkles, grey hair and visible veins.  

Exercise science professor Larry Tucker said: 'Just because you're 40, doesn't mean you're 40 years old biologically.

'We all know people that seem younger than their actual age. The more physically active we are, the less biological aging takes place in our bodies.'

The research found those who trained in high volumes compared to those who didn't or those who exercised less frequently had much longer telomeres, which are the protein endcaps of chromosomes.

The length of telomeres have a strong correlation with a person's age and over time the endcaps get shorter and shorter.

The longer the telomeres, the more they protect DNA from 'fraying' and succumbing to disease. And the longer the telomeres, means for looking and feeling more youthful.  

Telomeres serve as a guide as what causes aging and how much cells can renew. Cell renewal keeps tissues young and healthy.

For some, exercise may not work to slow down the hands of time.

Researchers from the University of California in Los Angeles claimed that some people are destined to die earlier, no matter their levels of physical activity or their lifestyle. 

Through the study, they found five percent of people are genetically programmed to age faster and die younger than others. 

Race may be another component on how cells age. 

Latinos age slower than any other ethnicity according to researchers at UCLA.

They claim the group is unequivocally healthier due to cells taking much longer to age.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinos in the United States live an average of three years longer than Caucasians, with a life expectancy of 82 versus 79. 

Physical activity has been linked to several other benefits which could increase lifespans.

Tucker said: 'We know that regular physical activity helps to reduce mortality and prolong life, and now we know part of that advantage may be due to the preservation of telomeres.'

Exercise has been found to ward off obesity and limit the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Despite the benefits of working out, statistics on regular physical activity in the nation are bleak; only about 20 percent of Americans get enough exercise and about 64 percent never do any physical activity at all. 

Also read:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Do you want a 'younger' brain? Drink beetroot juice before exercising

Combining the drink with exercise strengthens certain regions of the brain, making it appear more youthful and potentially preventing the organ's decline.

This finding could help people who are at risk of brain deterioration to remain functionally independent, such as those with a family history of dementia.

Beetroot juice's power likely lies in its nitric oxide content, which both increases blood flow to the brain and improves exercise performance. 

Study author Professor Jack Rejeski, said: 'Nitric oxide is a really powerful molecule. It goes to the areas of the body which are hypoxic, or needing oxygen, and the brain is a heavy feeder of oxygen in your body.

'Compared to exercise alone, adding a beetroot juice supplement to exercise resulted in brain connectivity that closely resembles what you see in younger adults.'

Scientists from Wake Forest University, North Carolina, studied 26 men and women aged 55 and older who did not exercise and had high blood pressure.

Some participants were given beetroot juice one hour before walking for 50 minutes on a treadmill, while others did the same exercise but without the drink. This was repeated three times a week for six weeks.

Those who drank the juice had healthier brains, including the regions involved in movement, emotion and cognitive function.

The scientists also found higher levels of nitrate and nitrite in those who drank the juice. 

Beetroot contains nitrate, which is first converted to nitrite and then nitric oxide in the body. 

This comes after researchers from Queen Mary University of London found one daily glass of 250ml beetroot juice substantially lowers blood pressure.

Also read:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Just 4 minutes of intense cycling can stop cells from aging quickly, study reveals

High-intensity interval training for just four minutes at a time can stop the aging process.

Short bursts of super-intense exercise, used in spinning classes, have been found to reverse damage to cells which decline with age.

Many people may think long bike rides are the best exercise, or at least a half-hour session pedaling at the gym. But a US study found just four minutes of all-out cycling, followed by three easier minutes, are needed 12 times a week, along with another 90 minutes walking on a treadmill.

High intensity interval training, as it is known, works better than longer cycling sessions and weightlifting to halt the damage to the cells' 'batteries' which may kickstart the aging process.

Fixing defects in the DNA of these batteries, the mitochondria, is believed to help people live longer before falling ill with diseases of old age like heart failure and cancer.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota found short bursts of exercise improve fitness, cut body fat and can ward off diabetes, as well as tackling cell aging.

They signed up 72 men and women aged 18 to 30 and 65 to 80 for high-intensity training, resistance training using weights, and combined training with longer bouts of cycling and fewer weights sessions.

In good news for time-poor office workers, senior author Dr Sreekumaran Nair, concluded the short bursts were the best.

He said: 'Based on everything we know, there's no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the aging process. These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine.'

High intensity interval training works to burn more fat by producing 'excess post-oxygen consumption'. Four minutes cycling at close to maximum effort, before collapsing red-faced on the handlebars, leaves someone's resting metabolic rate elevated for longer after exercise.

The latest study shows it also works particularly well in causing cells to make more proteins for their energy-producing mitochondria. This ability is lost as people grow older.

The study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, took biopsies from the participants' thigh muscles and compared the molecular makeup of their muscle cells to samples from sedentary volunteers.

The younger volunteers in the interval training group saw a 49 percent increase in their mitochondrial capacity, and the older volunteers saw an even more dramatic 69 percent increase.

Some of these reversed the decline in mitochondria caused by age, and the decline in proteins needed for muscle-building, which makes people increasingly frail as they get older.

These people did four minutes of high-intensity cycling, followed by three minutes of easier pedaling with no load, repeated only four times. The cycling sessions, on three days of the week, were coupled with two 45-minutes walks at a lower intensity on a treadmill.

It was better for aging than resistance training, involving lower and upper body weightlifting repeated eight to 12 times on four occasions twice a week. It also beat five days a week of cycling for half an hour at a lower intensity, plus four days of weightlifting with fewer repetitions.

However, interval training was less effective at improving muscle strength, which typically declines with aging.

Dr Nair, whose participants did not regularly exercise before joining the study, said: 'If people have to pick one exercise, I would recommend high-intensity interval training, but I think it would be more beneficial if they could do three to four days of interval training and then a couple days of strength training.'

The team hope a drug could be developed to mimic the effects of exercise in warding off old age. 

Also read:

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Every hour you run adds 7 hours to your lifespan

Every hour you run extends your life span by seven hours - no matter how slow you go, a new study has revealed.

Scientists say that running just one hour a week is the most effective exercise to increase life expectancy. This holds true no matter how many miles or how fast you run, the researchers claim.

For those that take this advice to heart and run regularly, they say you can extend your life span by up to three years.

The study, conducted at Iowa State University, reanalyzed data from The Cooper Institute, in Texas, and also examined results from a number of other recent studies that looked at the link between exercise and mortality.

Scientists found that the new review reinforced the findings of earlier research.

At whatever pace or mileage, a person's risk of premature death dropped by 40 percent when he or she took up running.

This applied even when researchers controlled for smoking, drinking or a history of health problems such as obesity.

Three years ago, the same team conducted a study that analyzed more than 55,000 adults, and determined that running for just seven minutes a day could help slash the risk of dying from heart disease.

They followed participants over a period of 15 years, and found that of the more than 3,000 who died, only one-third of deaths were from heart disease.

Co-author Dr Duck-chul Lee, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, told The New York Times that after this study was released, the team was hounded with questions wondering if other activities, such as walking, were as beneficial.

High-mileage runners also questioned if they were overperforming and if, at some point, running would actually contribute to premature mortality.

After analyzing the data in the new study, scientists determined that hour for hour, running statistically returns more time to people's lives than it consumes.

In The Cooper Institute study, participants reported an average of two hours running per week. 

The amount ran over the course of 40 years would add up to fewer than six months, but it could increase life expectancy by more than three years.

The researchers also determined that if every non-runner who had been part of the reviewed studies took up the sport, there would have been 16 percent fewer deaths over all, and 25 percent fewer fatal heart attacks. 

Other types of exercise were also found to be beneficial. Walking and cycling dropped the risk of premature death by about 12 percent. 

Dr Lee says scientists remain uncertain as to why running helps with longevity. But he says it's likely because the sport combats many common risk factors for early death, including high blood pressure and extra body fat, especially around the middle. It also raises aerobic fitness, one of the best-known indicators for long-term health.

Running, however, does not make you immortal and the life expectancy rates don't increase beyond three years.

Improvements in life expectancy generally plateaued at about four hours of running per week, Dr Lee said. But they did not decline.  

Also read:

Monday, April 10, 2017

The super trio: How olive oil, nuts and avocado can help you live forever

The magic potion for a long and healthy life could be in your cupboard - in the form of olive oil. A form of fat found in the staple kitchen ingredient may help people to reach 100 years old, scientists claim.

Animals given the healthy compound, which is also found in avocado and nuts, were found to live longer. Experts believe the findings may also be relevant to humans as we apparently share similar qualities with the animals.

Stanford University School of Medicine researchers believe the fat helps to protect cells from the signs of aging. They also said it allows the body to quickly access energy from foods in the study published in the journal Nature.

Lead author Professor Anne Brunet said: 'We have known for some time metabolic changes can affect lifespan, but we expected the long-lived animals in our study would be thinner.

'Instead, they turned out to be fatter. This was quite a surprise.'

It may also explain why southern Europeans, who frequently eat olive oil in their Mediterranean diet, live longer and have lower rates of heart disease, despite consuming more fat.

In the study, roundworms were fed mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are already known to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Not only did the roundworms become obese, but they also lived two days longer on average than their svelte counterparts. Their average lifespan is a fortnight.

Research has previously shown roundworms that lack a complex of proteins called COMPASS live for 30 per cent longer than their peers. 

Tests later found blocking COMPASS helped convert unhealthy polyunsaturated fats in the animals' guts into mono-unsaturated fats. This came as a surprise as severe calorie restriction has also been shown to extend the lifespan of worms and many other animals.

The researchers are now working to understand how the mono-unsaturated fatty acid accumulation might work to extend lifespan.

Humans with diets rich in mono-unsaturated fats have been shown to have a reduced risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Some studies have even shown that centenarians store more mono-unsaturated fat than non-centenarians. 

Commenting on the study, London-based nutritionist Rob Hobson said 'it has many health benefits' mainly supporting the heart.

Healthspan's head of nutrition added: 'It contains unique anti oxidants that reduce inflammation such as oleocanthal.

'Like all healthy foods it’s energy dense so by that although good for you you still need to eat in moderation.' 

Also read:

Monday, April 3, 2017

Harvard scientist claims NMN drug has knocked 20 years off his age, and given his 77 year old father the energy of a 30 year old

A professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School has spent two decades investigating how to ‘cure’ aging and believes NMN is by far the best prospect of providing the answer.

His fountain of youth is actually a specialised variant of vitamin B3 that is found in many foods, including broccoli, cucumber and avocado, that helps our cells repair damaged DNA. The latter is believed to be a major cause of natural aging.

In the body, NMN is converted into a related chemical called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which is found in every cell of living organisms and is essential for life. NAD is crucial in fuelling the seven different genes in our body that govern aging. However, our NAD levels decline by about 50 per cent as we age, turning off the body’s defenses against aging and age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Experiments on mice by Professor Sinclair and his team showed that after just a week of being fed NMN dissolved in their drinking water, the cells of aging mice were indistinguishable from those of young mice. Their muscles looked and behaved like those of a young mouse, too.

In human terms, it was the equivalent of a 60-year-old’s cells and muscles transforming into those of a 20-year-old. According to the team’s paper in the international journal Science, the mice suffered no negative side-effects.

Often what works brilliantly in lab mice doesn’t translate to the more complex systems of humans. However, Professor Sinclair says no one has ever tried to replace our dwindling NAD before.

‘NAD is a naturally occurring molecule in the body, so we’re really just replenishing what’s been lost over time,’ he says. ‘That’s different to other strategies that have introduced a foreign molecule from a bacterium or a plant, which could have all sorts of side-effects.

‘This is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-ageing drug that’s perhaps only three to five years from being on the market if the trials go well.’

The first tests on humans will soon begin in Boston in the U.S., focusing first on safety and then on whether the treatment can actually reverse aging in people, too. They will be monitored closely by the U.S. space agency NASA, which is interested in using the drug during future missions to Mars to stop the accelerated aging process that affects astronauts exposed to radiation in space.

Professor Sinclair is so convinced of his pill’s safety that not only has he been taking it himself, so has his 77-year-old father.

The results certainly sound encouraging. Before he started taking a 500mg NMN pill every morning, 47-year-old Professor Sinclair had his blood tested and was told his body had a biological age of 58.

After consuming NMN for three months, he was tested again and his biological age was 32.

As for his father, he’s recently been out-pacing the professor’s younger brother on mountaineering expeditions in their native Australia.

‘He’s as vigorous as he was in his 20s and 30s, and he seems to be getting more energetic,’ says Professor Sinclair.

The manufacturing process of the NMN pill is complicated and expensive, and it currently costs Professor Sinclair more than $1,000 (£797) a month to buy it just for himself. Large-scale manufacturing would bring the cost down, but he says that ultimately it won’t be cheap. Of course it won’t — if it lives up to the hype, then it really is the long-sought-after elixir of youth.

We each have our own image of what it might entail, and taking a pill with my Bran Flakes is certainly not what I had in mind.

I mention Ursula Andress bathing in mystical cold flames that kept her forever young and gorgeous in the 1960s film version of the H. Rider Haggard story She.

Professor Sinclair remembers it, too. Nothing like that is quite on the cards, he admits… at least not yet.

For a start, what his NMN pill cannot do is rejuvenate our exterior appearance — especially if we’re already old.

The fact that Professor Sinclair, a father of three young children, still has no grey hairs and very few wrinkles seems a miracle in itself, but he suggests it isn’t because of his pills.

Hair loss, grey hair and wrinkled skin are not yet reversible, he says, although if you start taking NMN young, it may delay visible aging, as it’s much easier to prevent hair loss and grey hair than reverse it.

‘I don’t think people will go from 80 to looking like they are 20, although a person who started taking it in their 40s could stay looking in their 40s for longer.

‘What I am expecting is that their body’s internal workings will function better and people will be better protected against diseases as they get older,’ he explains.

And yet all is not lost for Ursula Andress wannabes. Stem cell replacement — the field that could rejuvenate skin and hair — is still in its infancy, but is looking hopeful, he says.

Professor Sinclair mentions Samumed, a California research company whose backers include the venture capitalist arm of IKEA and which claims considerable success in reversing the cosmetic aspects of aging.

By reprogramming genes to be younger, it is developing molecules that could restore hair and hair colour and remove skin wrinkles.

Another drug could even regenerate cartilage in the knees of arthritis patients.

Professor Sinclair, a molecular biologist by training who sold his first research company to British drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million and who was in Time magazine’s 2014 list of the world’s 100 most influential people, is certainly not a lone voice.

There’s a growing scientific consensus that ageing is not inevitable.

There’s considerable disagreement, however, over to what extent the inevitable can be put off. A minority, so-called ‘immortalists’ — who are big on imagination but short on serious scientific credentials — believe we can avoid death indefinitely.

They include Aubrey de Grey, a British technology expert and thinker who reckons we can live for 1,000 years.

Then there’s the American futurist, Ray Kurzweil, who believes that humans will eventually physically merge with artificial intelligence and transcend our biological limitations.

Finally, there’s Martine Rothblatt, a transgender woman and one of America’s highest-paid chief executives, who intends to grow new organs from people’s DNA.

She has already commissioned a ‘back-up version’ of her own wife — a robot which has been uploaded with the real woman’s thoughts, memories and even feelings.

Aging science is a world full of quacks and charlatans, but that hasn’t stopped Silicon Valley billionaires and celebrities terrified by the thought of death from plunging vast sums into scientifically dubious projects.

A recent Los Angeles meeting to discuss the latest theories brought together the actress Goldie Hawn, pop star Moby and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who has talked of ‘curing death’.

More serious scientists, including Professor Sinclair, are relatively modest in their ambitions: they speak of adding at most a few extra decades to our lifespans. But what’s possibly more important, they say, is improving our ‘health-spans’.

For what’s the use of having another 50 years to live, if you have to spend it in a wheelchair, crippled by arthritis?

Professor Sinclair has strong personal reasons for devoting his career to unlocking the secrets of aging.

He was in the middle of studying for his PhD when his mother contracted lung cancer. And he vividly recalls his sense of outrage watching his once vibrant grandmother grow old, enfeebled and pass away. It’s a tragic story being played out in everybody’s family, so why aren’t we up in arms about aging, he asks.

The answer, he knows, is because we regard aging as inevitable. In fact, everyone believed that until scientists identified genes that control DNA repair, and therefore the ageing process, in the Nineties.

It was known that strenuous exercise and a low-calorie diet put stress on our cells, prompting them to produce more NAD and so build up their defences against the sort of damage that will age us.

But we learned that over-exercising and starving ourselves is damaging, too, especially for older people — and so scientists intensified their search for a drug that could mimic their effect.

It was Professor Sinclair who initially identified a possible candidate in resveratrol, an antioxidant found in tiny amounts in red wine and in cocoa which reversed aging in mice.

Complicated to manufacture, difficult to administer and of limited effectiveness, resveratrol was not the miracle it had appeared. And so his search for a far more powerful substance led him to NMN.

As to what exactly it may do for us, he mentions strengthened endurance and fitness, enhanced energy, and muscles and organs such as the liver that will function more like they did when we were much younger. (If DNA damage is repaired or minimised, our organs don’t have a shelf life as such.) An increased metabolism might lead to weight loss, too.

Serious aging researchers are wary of being too specific on how many extra years their discoveries may give us, but given what it’s done for mice, Professor Sinclair’s estimate that NMN could buy us an extra five or ten years of healthy life sounds a little disappointing.

But it’s only a start, he insists. Combined with other research that scientists are doing around the world, our age span could be extended by half again.

‘I’ve stated before that the first person to live to 150 has already been born, and that’s me projecting where we’ll be [scientifically] 50 years from now,’ he says.

‘I don’t think we’re going to be immortal, but there’s no law of biology that says we can’t live for 200 years.’

What are these other areas of research? Professor Sinclair mentions two more promising drugs. One is metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes, which has been found to help some diabetics live longer than non-diabetics.

The other is rapamycin, derived from a fungus found on Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean and used to prevent organ transplant rejection. Tests have shown it suppresses the onset of cancer in mice. Both of these drugs, like NMN, trick our body into upping its defences against diseases and negative effects of aging.

The market for an effective anti-aging drug has been estimated at $26 billion a year.

However, Professor Sinclair and his team must first convince regulators to accept that aging is a treatable condition — essential if they want NMN officially approved as a drug — before the floodgates can open to the millions who may want to buy it.

In the meantime, many may ask whether we want to live until we’re 150 and — just as important — whether the world can cope if we do.

Critics of extending human lifespans warn that it will impose a crippling burden on healthcare and the global economy. But Professor Sinclair believes the opposite, arguing that it’s economically essential that we find a way of keeping the elderly healthy and productive.

‘We’re talking about people in their 90s playing tennis and educating their great-grandkids,’ he says.

‘It’ll be a totally different world where your 80s and 90s will be the equivalent of your 60s and 70s now.’

And from work with laboratory mice and observations of the very elderly, it seems death when it comes will be much more rapid, possibly after a short illness such as pneumonia. Scientists call this phenomenon the ‘compression of morbidity’.

Professor Sinclair says he thinks about the ethics of his work every day. What bothers him most is the idea that he could be sentencing people in unpleasant, unrewarding jobs to decades more misery as they struggle towards a far later retirement.

In the developed world, we’re well past the Bible’s approximation of the human lot of threescore years and ten — even without molecular tinkering.

Advances in medical and pharmaceutical technology, and improving lifestyles, mean that lifespans will continue to extend for much of the world’s population.

The prospect of a pill to boost longevity further still is a very good reason for our children, at least, to start looking forward to that 120th birthday party.