Category Archives: Announcements

Active Sex Life Strengthens Brain Power For Older Adults

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Now that is welcome news! A pair of studies has shown that certain cognitive functions are strengthened by a more frequent sex life for both men and women. Both studies found significant relationships, after adjusting for age, education, wealth, physical activity, depression, cohabiting, self-rated health, loneliness and quality of life.

The earlier (2016) study (Sex on the brain! Associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in older age) utilized 6,833 participants aged 50–89 (3,060 men and 3,773 women) from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. This research studied the relationship between certain cognitive functions and whether or not the participants had been sexually active at all in the previous 12 months, where sexual activity was defined as including intercourse, masturbation, petting or fondling. There were two cognitive tests: recall and number sequencing. For the recall task, respondents heard a list of 10 everyday words and were asked to recall them immediately and after a short delay. The number sequencing task required completion of a number sequence such as 1, 2, __, 4, where the correct answer would be ‘3’.

This study found that there were significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing and recall in men, but that in women there was a significant association between sexual activity and recall, but not with number sequencing.

The later (2017) study (Frequent Sexual Activity Predicts Specific Cognitive Abilities in Older Adults) built on the earlier study. The goals of this research were to extend the earlier findings to a range of cognitive domains, and to determine whether increasing frequency of sexual activity is associated with increasing scores on a variety of cognitive tasks. As with the first study, sexual activity was defined as including intercourse, masturbation, petting or fondling. The study utilized 73 participants (28 males, 45 females) aged 50–83 years old, and demonstrated that overall cognitive scores were consistently higher in those who are sexually active compared to those than those who are not. Moreover, it shows increasing scores on two specific cognitive domains (fluency and visuospatial ability with increasing frequency of sexual activity (from never to monthly to weekly).

Here are two articles about the latest study, together with the study itself:

An active sex life improves brain power in older adults

Frequent Sexual Activity Can Boost Brain Power in Older Adults

Published research:
Frequent Sexual Activity Predicts Specific Cognitive Abilities in Older Adults

And here are two articles about the first (earliest) study, together with the study itself:

Sex on the brain! Associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in older age.

Sex linked to better brain power in older age

Published research:
Sex on the brain! Associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in older age

All the links have been added to Aging.

New Chemo Brain Links Added

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We’ve added two new links on Chemo Brain:

Cancer and Careers | Working with Chemo Brain

Chemo Brain – CancerConnect News

Update: Aging vs Exercise Protecting Telomeres

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Previously, Physical Activity Staves Off Aging: Get Out There! described work relating physical activity to aging as measured by the lengths of telomeres in white blood cells. A new study has extended this to telomere length in heart muscle, a significant measure of heart health. So this provides even more reason to hit the gym or hit the road running or biking.

Here are two articles describing the work:

Endurance training may have a protective effect on the heart [2017]

Maryland Study Shows that Exercise Protects the Heart’s DNA Structure

Here is a link to the published research:

Acute exercise activates p38 MAPK and increases the expression of telomere-protective genes in cardiac muscle. [2017]

All the links have been posted in both Physical Exercise and Aging

Category: Aging, Announcements

Your Circadian Clock vs Aging Stress

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Surprise! Your circadian clock has alarms set to turn on a group of rhythmic stress-related genes as you grow older. A new study from Oregon State University (conducted with fruit flies, but applicable to human bodies) discovered a collection of genes that are part of a previously unknown stress-response mechanism. This set of genes is a subset of the genes involved in the regulation of daily circadian rhythms, or the “biological clock.” The genes in this newly identified subset appear to “become active and respond to some of the stresses most common in aging, such as cellular and molecular damage, oxidative stress, or even some disease states,”

“These genes may help to combat serious stresses associated with age, disease or environmental challenges, and help explain why aging is often accelerated when the biological clock is disrupted.”

Routine disruptions of circadian rhythms and sleep patterns have been found to lead to shorter lifespans and increased susceptibility to cancer.

Here is an excellent extended article on the research:

Do aging circadian clocks have tricks up their sleeves?[2017]

Here is another good article:

‘Late-life’ genes activated by biological clock to help protect against stress, aging[2017]

The published study is available here:

Circadian deep sequencing reveals stress-response genes that adopt robust rhythmic expression during aging[2017]

All these links have been added in Aging.

Category: Aging, Announcements

There is Something in the Blood

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A massive study has revealed molecular changes that occur in human bodies as they age.

From the Research Abstract:
Disease incidences increase with age, but the molecular characteristics of ageing that lead to increased disease susceptibility remain inadequately understood. Here we perform a whole-blood gene expression meta-analysis in 14,983 individuals…and identify 1,497 genes that are differentially expressed with chronological age. … We further used the gene expression profiles to calculate the ‘transcriptomic age’ of an individual, and show that differences between transcriptomic age and chronological age are associated with biological features linked to aging, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, fasting glucose, and body mass index. …

Additionally, the work revealed a connection between these genes and factors such as diet, smoking and exercise.

Links to articles about the study as well as the study itself have been placed in Aging:

AGE: IT’S ALL IN YOUR BLOOD
Signs of faster aging process identified through gene research

Published Research:
The transcriptional landscape of age in human peripheral blood

Category: Aging, Announcements

Exercise vs Aging: Yet Again

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You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: Physical exercise is very important in combatting aging, both the physical aging of your body, as well as the mental aging of your mind.

In this post, we draw together links to four articles on a recent new study about the way that exercise combats physical aging, together with a link to the study abstract. The study was carried out at the Mayo clinic in Rochester, MN, and demonstrated that exercise — particularly high-intensity interval training (HIT) — has profound effects at the cellular level. It may even reverse some of the aging effects in muscle cells, as well as possibly other cells in the body.

The Mayo researchers utilized 36 men and 36 women, broken into two age groups: 18-30 years old and 65-80 years old. Each age group was split into three exercise groups: HIT biking together with treadmill walking, weight training, and mixed biking and weight training. Each group worked out 5 days a week for 12 weeks. Muscle change assessments were based on biopsies taken from the volunteers’ thigh muscles, compared with biopsies taken from a sedentary control group.

All of the exercise groups showed muscle improvement, particularly increases in muscle cell mitochondrial capacity, which is the energy source for all cells. Strikingly, the younger HIT group showed a 49% increase, while the older HIT group showed a dazzling 69% increase. The study also showed that exercise leads to improvement in protein-building ribosomes.

Senior study author, Sreekumbaran Nair 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. . . . exercise is critically important to prevent or delay aging. There’s no substitute for that.”

And

“If exercise restores or prevents deterioration of mitochondria and ribosomes in muscle cells, there’s a good chance it does so in other tissues, too. Understanding the pathways that exercise uses to work its magic may make aging more targetable.”

 
The four articles on the study are:

This Workout Might Help Reverse the Aging Process, According to a New Study [2017]

Interval training exercise could be a fountain of youth [2017]

How exercise — interval training in particular — helps your mitochondria stave off old age [2017]

Mayo Clinic Study Identifies How Exercise Staves Off Old Age [2017]

The published study abstract is here:

Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans [2017]

All the links have been added to Aging.

Category: Aging, Announcements

Japanese Diet May Help Extend Life

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Many articles and studies have extolled the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet (Search for Mediterranean under Health > Diet). Now the “Japanese diet” has entered the field.

Life expectancy in Japan is among the highest in the world, with Japanese women having the longest life expectancy of anyone in the world, with an average age of 87.

The study enrolled 36,624 men Japanese and 42,920 Japanese women between the ages of 45 and 75, and followed them for 15 years. Those participants who closely followed government recommended dietary guidelines were 15% less likely to die over the 15 years, and were 22% less likely to die of stroke during those 15 years,

“Our findings suggest that balanced consumption of energy, grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, eggs, soy products, dairy products, confectionaries, and alcoholic beverages can contribute to longevity by decreasing the risk of death, predominantly from cardiovascular disease, in the Japanese population,” the authors wrote.

Links to articles about the study, together with the study itself, have be published in Health > Diet:
Following a Japanese diet may help you live longer
Japanese Diet Filled High In Grains, Vegetables, And Fish May Lower Heart Disease Risk

Published Research:
Quality of diet and mortality among Japanese men and women: Japan Public Health Center based prospective study

Category: Aging, Announcements, Health

Yoga, Meditation, Running: Possible Help for Brains

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Spend a few minutes on the web searching for “benefits of yoga”, and you’ll keep coming up with phrases like these:

Stress relief, inner peace
Create strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body
Gives you peace of mind, gives you inner strength
Improves Brain Function
Yoga may help bring calm and mindfulness to your busy life
Yoga also helps to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol

Obviously, most of these indicate an effect on the mind/brain. This led researchers at UCLA to investigate the effects of using yoga in a small study (split into control and experimental subgroups) involving 25 participants over 55. Both groups had positive improvements, but the experimental group’s improvements were greater.

Links to stories about the study, as well as to the published study itself, are listed below and have be included in Alzheimers > Amelioration/Prevention.

Yoga May Be Good for the Brain
Could Yoga Help Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk?

Published research:
Changes in Neural Connectivity and Memory Following a Yoga Intervention for Older Adults: A Pilot Study.


Meditation is one component of yoga, and was practiced by the experimental subgroup in the yoga study above together with the more physical yoga exercises. In a related study, a group at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J investigated combining meditation with running as a means of alleviating depression. Working with a group of 52 people, 22 of which had been diagnosed as depressed, the program had clear benefits. The 22 participants with depression had a 40% reduction in depression symptoms, while the healthy control group reported feeling happier than they had felt at the start of the study. Since depression is a very common component of the onset of dementia, this study has clear applicability to management of dementia.

Links to stories about the study, as well as to the published study itself, are listed below and have be included in Alzheimers > Amelioration/Prevention.

Combining Aerobic Exercise and Meditation Reduces Depression
Exercise and meditation together help beat depression

Published research:
MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity

Bigger Brains (at least not Smaller)

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A study looking at 1,094 participants from the Framingham Heart Study shows that people who are more physically active in middle age tend to have larger brain volumes in later life.

The study participants were an average age of 40, with no signs of dementia or heart disease. They took a treadmill fitness test and underwent MRIs. Twenty years later, they underwent another treadmill test, along with MRI brain scans.

The estimates of brain volume were calculated based on measurements of oxygen used during treadmill tests, together with blood pressure and heart rate tests. Based on these estimates, people who were more active in their 40s tended to have larger brain volumes twenty years later.

Links to articles about the study and the study itself have been posted in Health > Physical Exercise:
People who exercise at middle age might have bigger brains later on
Exercise at middle age may keep brain bigger later in life
Better Fitness In Middle Age May Stop This Organ From Shrinking

Published research:
Midlife exercise blood pressure, heart rate, and fitness relate to brain volume 2 decades later

Some Early Stage Drug Research

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Drug research relating to dementia and Alzheimer’s is ongoing. Below is a collection of relatively recent reports. All of the links have been added to Alzheimers > Treatment > Drugs


trazodone and dibenzoylmethane

From the articles:
A team of scientists who a few years ago identified a major pathway that leads to brain cell death in mice, have now found two drugs that block the pathway and prevent neurodegeneration. The drugs caused minimal side effects in the mice and one is already licensed for use in humans, so is ready for clinical trials.

Experts excited by brain ‘wonder-drug’
Scientists discover two repurposed drugs that arrest neurodegeneration in mice
Published research:
Repurposed drugs targeting eIF2α-P-mediated translational repression prevent neurodegeneration in mice


Methylene blue

Drug Could Improve Short-term Memory, Study Says [06/28/2016]
Methylene Blue Shows Promise for Improving Short-Term Memory [June 28, 2016]
Published research:
Multimodal Randomized Functional MR Imaging of the Effects of Methylene Blue in the Human Brain [November 2016]


LMTX

Testing of new Alzheimer’s drug disappoints, but it’s not all bad news [July 27, 2016]
TauRx Alzheimer’s Drug LMTX Fails in Large Study Although Some Benefit Seen [July 27, 2016]


mefenamic acid

This Common Period Pain Medication Reverses Alzheimer’s Symptoms in Mice [16 Aug 2016]
Treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease possible [11 Aug 2016]
Alzheimer’s Disease: Period Pain Drug Cures Symptoms In Mice, New Research Shows [08/13/16]
Research publication:
Fenamate NSAIDs inhibit the NLRP3 inflammasome and protect against Alzheimer’s disease in rodent models [11 August 2016]


Category: Announcements, Drugs