Deleting Genes Could Boost Lifespan by 60%

The secret of extending life by decades may lie in switching off certain genes, scientists believe, after showing that small genetic tweaks can make organisms live 60 per cent longer.

Source: Deleting genes could boost lifespan by 60 per cent, say scientists

Don’t get excited just yet – they’ve only done this with yeast.  But claim the genes deactivated were specifically mammalian related.  Not even mice yet…

Study: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Increases Longevity In Men

Older men whose low testosterone is restored to normal through gels, patches, or injections have a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, or death from any cause, compared to men who are not treated, scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have found.

Source: Testosterone replacement therapy may help men live longer

It wasn’t that long ago that I posted an article about the experimental treatment of administering testosterone.  The sample size and number of years is impressive – this isn’t a case of 100 or less being sampled.  What I have not been able to find is what the “acceptable level” is…

I, and I’m sure most medical professionals would agree, suggest pursuing natural means of raising testosterone levels before going for medication.

Loneliness and Social Isolation: as Threatening to Longevity as Obesity

 Loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity. The effect occurs even for people who like to be alone. Lack of relationships is a bigger health risk for people under age 65.

…Controlling for variables such as socioeconomic status, age, gender, and pre-existing health conditions, they found that the effect goes both ways. The lack of social connections presents an added risk, and the existence of relationships provides a positive health effect. The new study appears in Perspectives on Psychological Science.

… puts the heightened risk of mortality from loneliness in the same category as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and being an alcoholic. This current study suggests that not only is the risk for mortality in the same category as these well-known risk factors, it also surpasses health risks associated with obesity.

Source: Loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity

This is the empirical other-side-of-the-coin to a recent post about how powerful friendship is.  But there is a counterpoint study:

Social contact frequency is a well-defined and relatively objective measure of social relationships, which according to many studies is closely associated with health and longevity. However, no previous meta-analysis has isolated this measure; existing reviews instead aggregate social contact with other diverse measures of social support, leaving unexplored the unique contribution of social contact to mortality. Furthermore, no study has sufficiently explored the factors that may moderate the relationship between contact frequency and mortality. We conducted meta-analyses and meta-regressions to examine 187 all-cause mortality risk estimates from 91 publications, providing data on about 400,000 persons. The mean hazard ratio (HR) for mortality among those with lower levels of social contact frequency was 1.13 (p < 0.05) among multivariate-adjusted HRs. However, sub-group meta-analyses show that there is no significant relationship between contact and mortality for male individuals and that contact with family members does not have a significant effect. The moderate effect sizes and the lack of association for some subgroups suggest that mere social contact frequency may not be as beneficial to one’s health as previously thought.

The answer is: It Depends™.  Because I’ve encountered a lot who will push, beyond recommendation, to ignore quality issues.  Codependency is just as bad, and studies like the first link do not mention this.  To be more clear – is an abusive relationship (doesn’t have to be physical) better than the alternative?  My rule is: forgiveness to a point, after which it’s no longer forgiveness – that’s just condoning abuse.  My experience to date is that no abuser changes for the better, part of which I believe is due to falling into familiar patterns.

Your Friends Know When You’re Going to Die

There’s a troubling truth about self-knowledge and its limits: alarmingly often, when you’re faced with a big decision, you’re better off trusting the judgment of a friend – or even a stranger – than your own. To put it bluntly, you may be especially badly suited to figuring out whom you should marry, where you should live or what job you should do – precisely because you’re you.

For instance, according to a new study entitled “Your Friends Know When You’re Going To Die”, published in Psychological Science, if you want to predict the date of your death, you could do a lot worse than ask your friends. I don’t mean you should literally ask them to name a date. (That could cause some awkwardness at the restaurant table, I imagine.) But the things they know about you could still be the basis of the best estimate available.

Source: Your friends know more about your life than you do, including when you might die

Researchers found that your peers can predict your mortality, not because they’re psychic, but because a.) they know you—the real you, and the personality traits you possess (or don’t) that tend to affect longevity, and b.) there really is such a thing as crowd wisdom, if the crowd is comprised of people you know.

The study itself notes that it was conscientiousness and openness among men that predicted long life, but emotional stability and agreeableness (as rated by friends) that predicted many sunsets for women. And, in both cases, friends were better at predicting these traits than the self-reported assessments of the people themselves.

Born Under A Bad Sun: Solar Activity Blamed For Much Shorter Lifespans

New research suggests a surprising factor in human longevity. A look at 200 years of birth records found that high solar activity in a person’s birth year was correlated with a five-year reduction in lifespan.

Source: Born Under A Bad Sun: Solar Activity Blamed For Much Shorter Lifespans

Please see my kickstarter for X-Baby iShields. Moms just need to wear this lead apron* from time of possible conception to birth. Plus, it will keep you fit, as walking around with forty pounds of lead is good exercise.

*Lead may be harmful to babies. There isn’t 100% consensus. Teach the controversy.

Study Time! Warfarin Impact on Longevity, Atrial Fibrillation

A new study has discovered that the drug, which is taken by hundreds of thousands of patients at risk from a blood clot, may increase bleeding and so the risk of death during a haemorrhage in the brain.

The research carried out in the United States found that those taking the drug had twice as much bleeding when they did suffer a stroke. This in turn led to a greater risk of death unless treated quickly.

Source: Blood-thinning drug warfarin may raise risk of death from brain haemorrhage

Anyone surprised?  The medical community calls us “bleeders” for a reason.

As with anything, there will be trade-offs.  I lasted six months after coming off medication before having my second pulmonary embolism.  Off medication, I have a serious risk of heart attack, stroke and aneurysm.  Depending on what I’m doing, that may or may not be a bigger issue to those around me (IE: driving).  I’d been told a story of someone locally who was so much of a concern, they are not allowed to drive – they have to take public transit.  And considering the study focused on people in the later stage of life, I have some time before the findings become a concern 😉

A nitpick about the term “blood thinner”.  Warfarin/coumadin does not “thin” the blood – it inhibits the ability to clot.

On a related note, warfarin isn’t an ideal choice for atrial fibrillation (AF):

Among residents with AF, use of warfarin and maintenance of INR levels to prevent stroke appear to be suboptimal. Among prescribers, perceived challenges associated with warfarin therapy often outweigh its benefits. Further research is needed to explicitly consider the appropriate balancing of risks and benefits in this frail patient population.

I found this article to be a balanced read about the pros and cons of warfarin.  I didn’t know about the renal (kidney) concern with using heparin – no one mentioned in the three courses (5-7 days long?) I’ve had it administered in.  But in certain circumstances, aspirin can be good – where warfarin can be significantly better.

No Magic Gene Behind Supercentenarians’ Longevity

Previous studies identified genes coding for proteins that might play an important role in longevity, including insulin-like growth factor-1. Some people have a variant of IGF-1 that becomes less active over time, and this can slow the ageing process.

But when Stuart Kim of Stanford University in California and his colleagues compared the genomes of 16 women and one man aged 110 or older with those of 34 people aged 21 to 79, they found no significant differences in IGF-1 or any other gene (PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112430). Ironically, one supercentenarian woman had a gene variant known to raise the risk of sudden death through irregular heart rhythms.

Source: It Turns Out That “Longevity Genes” Don’t Exist

So get back to your eating and exercise!  🙂  I’d argue about sample size, but there aren’t many supercentenarians to draw from.  Though with technology, given time (heh) we’re likely to build up a sizable sample for better conclusions.

Biologically, longevity isn’t something that would have evolved.  It’s counterproductive – more resource competition and less emphasis on evolution (breeding, biodiversity, generational turnover).

We’re Living Too Long

…The longer life span doesn’t bode well for the corporate pension plans that are supposed to support workers into old age.  New mortality estimates released Monday by the nonprofit Society of Actuaries show the average 65-year-old U.S. woman is expected to live 88.8 years…

Source: Rising U.S. Life Spans Spell Likely Pain for Pension Funds

The article is behind a paywall, but there wouldn’t be a concern about the pension if the population size per generation were the same or bigger.  The largest on record was the boomers, and those since are significantly smaller so there’s concerns with pensions and jobs.  This sums the generational mentality perfectly.  I was told in school that jobs would be plentiful because boomers were going to be retiring – never happened, and with depleted pensions they’re less likely.  But eventually they will leave the workforce, and we don’t necessarily have the population to staff those jobs.  Which in turn means taxes and such for local governments…  Which means looking at immigration to stave the demand.  Even with it’s strict policy on official citizens, the US has only managed to stay at par because of immigration.

There’s real impact to resources, society and biology if we live longer.  Consider that two people need an organ transplant – one is 40 and the other is 70…  There’s some research that suggests ailments are due to having a father who was 40+ at child conception.  People living longer means financial resources to support that – some won’t retire, or will have to take jobs previously held by teenagers.

On a slightly more uplifting note, I’ve enjoyed some of the “Ask a Mortician” youtube series.  But that might’ve been because of the Type O Negative clip I heard once…  Here’s a couple of the ones I’d enjoyed and/or recommend:

Being cremated is my last hope for a smoking hot body.  But you have to urn it 😉

Bonus link: What Happens to Your [US] SSN When You Die?

Resveratrol May Not Be The Elixir In Red Wine And Chocolate

…resveratrol might not be the health booster it’s been cracked up to be – at least if we’re getting it from food alone. In a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, a team of scientists report that dietary resveratrol had no apparent association with longevity or inflammation, or rates of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Source: Resveratrol May Not Be The Elixir In Red Wine And Chocolate