According to new research from Ohio State University, taking omega-3 supplements may help slow the aging process. Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally found in fish, such as tuna or salmon, and other sources, such as walnuts, flax seed, and beans. The study found that adults who took the supplements had longer telomeres, which are protective caps that prevent genomes from becoming unstable. Longer telomere length has been associated with better health and increased longevity. Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, lead author of the study, said the telomere finding is provocative because it suggests that a nutritional supplement may make a difference in aging. More here and here.
It’s been said that honesty is the best policy and, according to a new study, it may also be best for your health. New research, presented at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention, suggests that telling lies may have a negative effect on health outcomes. The study included a sample of 110 people, among whom nearly half were asked to stop telling major or minor lies for 10 weeks. Anita E. Kelly, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame and lead author of the study, said evidence indicates that the average American lies 11 times per week. According to Kelly, participants who purposefully reduced their everyday lies saw their health significantly improve. Over the 10 week study, when participants told fewer lies they were also found to have fewer mental and physical health complaints, such as feeling tense or melancholy or having headaches or sore throats. More here.
Regularly engaging in leisure-time activities such as walking, gardening, housework, and home maintenance can contribute to heart health, according to new research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation. The study, which followed 4,200 participants over a 10 year period, found that moderate-intensity exercise had a positive effect on cardiovascular health, regardless of when participants became physically active. Mark Hamer, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and associate professor of epidemiology and public health at University College in London, said it is especially important for older people to be physically active because it contributes to successful aging. Hamer noted that activity levels increased as participants reached retirement age and even those who moved from inactive to active saw heart health benefits. More here.
According to research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, fragmented or interrupted sleep may predict future placement in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. The study, published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, asked women with a mean age of 83 to wear a device that monitored movement for at least three days and then followed up with them five years later. Compared with women who suffered few sleep disturbances, participants who spent the most time awake after initially falling asleep were three times as likely to be placed in a nursing home at the five-year follow up. Adam Spira, lead author of the study, said sleep disturbances are common in older people and, according to the results, more sleep fragmentation is associated with a greater risk of being placed in a nursing home or in a personal-care home. Previous research has linked poor sleep with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and disability in older adults. More here.
Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes at the end of chromosomes that serve as protection against deterioration. Shortened telomeres have been linked to biological or cellular aging, as well as increased risk of cancer, heart disease, dementia, and mortality. And now, according to a recent study from researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, shortened telomeres have been linked to stress and phobic anxiety in middle-aged and older women. The study, which looked at blood samples from 5,243 women between the ages of 42 and 69, found that participants that reported higher levels of anxiety had significantly shorter telomere lengths than women who reported less stress. The difference in telomere length between participants who reported anxiety and those who didn’t was similar to the effects of an additional six years of aging. Olivia Okereke, the study’s author, said the results were notable for showing a connection between a common form of stress and a plausible mechanism for premature aging. More here and here.
Research from Yale University shows that stressful events may lead to a loss of gray matter in the areas of the brain that regulate emotion, self-control, and physiological functions such as blood pressure. Emily Ansell, assistant professor of psychiatry and lead author of the study, said the findings suggest that the accumulation of stressful events may make it more challenging for individuals to deal with future stress. The study looked at 103 healthy subjects who were interviewed about stressful events in their life, such as death of a loved one, divorce, or loss of a job. The results suggest that the effects of trauma and stress can lead to disorders such as addiction, anxiety, and depression if not handled in a healthy way. More here.
An adult’s normal resting heart rate should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute. And, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, increases in your resting heart rate over time may mean a greater risk of dying of heart disease. The study looked at 30,000 men and women without any known heart disease and measured their resting heart rate over a 10-year period. The participants whose heart rate was less than 70 beats per minute at the first measurement and more than 85 beats per minute at the next measurement were more likely to die from heart disease or other causes after 12 years of follow-up. Ulrik Wisloff, the study’s lead author, says healthy adults should have a resting heart rate of about 70 beats per minute. If it increases more than 10 beats, it may be time to talk to a doctor. More here.
According to the latest study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, older Americans not only expect to work longer, many don’t expect to retire at all. In 2006, 1.7 percent of workers over the age of 50 said they planned to retire by age 80. By 2010, that percentage had risen to 5.2 percent and the number of those workers that said they never planned to retire reached 16.3 percent. Sudipto Banerjee, EBRI research associate and author of the study, said the general trend shows that older Americans are expecting to retire later. But, according to Banerjee, the most striking statistic is that nearly 20 percent expect to never stop working and an additional 15 percent said they don’t know when they would be able to retire. The EBRI study looked at data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Survey during the period between 2006 and 2010. More here.
Though the majority of men experience prostate gland growth as they age, most have no obvious symptoms. Those that do suffer from urinary-tract symptoms associated with the mostly harmless enlargement have been told, for years, that the herbal extract saw palmetto can help reduce those symptoms. But, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, saw palmetto was no more effective than an identical placebo when given to 369 men with prostate-related symptoms. Michael J. Barry, MD, lead author of the study, said between 40 and 45 percent of the men in both the placebo and the saw palmetto group saw perceptible improvement in their symptoms but the improvement can not be linked to any active ingredient in the saw-palmetto extract, though there were virtually no side effects associated with taking it. More here.
An experimental drug may offer new hope to the nearly 5.7 million people in the United States suffering from heart failure. Dr. John R. Teerlink, a cardiologist at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and author of one of two recent clinical trials, says the drug improves heart function by directly increasing the activation of certain heart muscle proteins, which could improve the efficiency and performance of the heart. Current drugs for heart failure indirectly increase heart function but can also cause dangerous heart rhythm abnormalities. The new drug, named omecamtiv mecarbil, was found to safely improve heart function in 45 heart-failure patients in another study from the University of Hull in East Yorkshire, England. Researchers are optimistic but caution that the drug is still only in the early stages of clinical trials. More here.