Reverse Aging News 9-10 2010

It's a simple question: If you were to die early, who would miss you? People with a circle of friends and family who do care have cut their risk of dying young in half according to a new study done at Brigham Young University in Utah which was recently published in the Public Library of Science Journal PLoS Medicine.

Not having a good social life was likened to other risk factors for mortality like obesity. According to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD the lead author of the study. "A lack of social relationships was equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day." Not having a good social life was more dangerous than not exercising and was roughly equivalent to being an alcoholic in terms of an unhealthy outcome.

As we move toward national health care, there are policy implications here suggesting that vigorous steps should be taken to combat the social isolation of America 's graying population. The effect of isolation on health was thoroughly explored by Dean Ornish, MD in the anti-aging documentary "Reverse Aging Now."

Sun Protection Guide

Summer is winding down, but the sun is still strong. In fact, these same pointers can be used for ski season which can start as early as next month in higher elevations.

We've been told for years by the Centers for Disease Control to use sun block. The Food and Drug Administration has required SPF numbers on sun block sold in the US since 1978. Unfortunately there's a misconception about SPF, the sun protection factor. An SPF of 100 does not offer double the protection of SPF 50. Sunlight is 95% UVA radiation, the ultraviolet light that contributes to wrinkling and skin cancer. Sunburns are caused by the 5% of UVB rays. SPF only refers to the blocking power of a lotion to screen out UVB rays.

Most dermatologists suggest a sunscreen of SPF 30. According to Jeffery Dover, the president of the American Society of Dermatological Surgery, most patients don't use enough. People should apply at least as much as will fill a shot glass. The lotion should be applied early enough to be absorbed, then reapplied every couple of hours, or after a swim.

Most sun blocks offer avobenzone to absorb UVA while oxybenzone is used to counteract UVB. Since oxybenzone can act as a hormone disrupter, it shouldn't be used by pregnant women.

When I worked as a lifeguard, many of my colleagues used zinc oxide to keep their noses from getting burnt. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide physically block the sun's rays from reaching the skin. In recent years these compounds have been micronized into nanoparticles, tiny units that don't turn your skin white, but are still effective.

In the anti-aging documentary "Reverse Aging Now" UCLA dermatologist Nicholas Lowe, MD explains how he urges all his patients to use sun block for protection since it's only in recent decades that the link between skin cancer and sunlight has been proven.

Cataract Surgery Can Improve More than Clouded Lenses

Most people who have cataract surgery are grateful that they can see at all after the procedure, but by making the right choice in replacement lenses you could eliminate or diminish your need for glasses. Prior to 1981 patients needed very thick glasses after surgery because their eyes' lenses weren't replaced. Recent advances in intraocular lens, IOL, design have made it possible for many patients to go without external corrective lenses. Multifocal and accommodating premium IOLs are now available that will correct for astigmatism or presbyopia, where the lens loses its focusing flexibility. Only 10% of those going through cataract surgery opt for premium lenses. Expect these numbers to grow as more people learn about this option. For more about the basics of lens correction, watch this free video on laser eye surgery.

Calcium Supplement Picture Unclear

From the time we were kids we were told that to build strong bones we needed calcium. Since few of us continue to consume the same amount of milk as adults that we did as children many of us have started taking calcium supplements to make up for the deficiency.

In recent years thanks to CT Scans, calcium deposits in the coronary arteries have been recognized as a risk factor for heart disease. A new study shows that although calcium supplements may counteract the drop in bone density that causes osteoporosis, it might actually increase the risk of heart attack, by close to a third.

photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Ian Reid, MD of the University of Auckland, New Zealand analyzed results from 11 controlled trials of calcium supplements in more than 12,000 patients. In the journal BMJ he reported a 31% increase in heart attacks - 143 for those who took supplements, compared to 111 who got a placebo.

These results are for calcium supplements only and don't apply to natural sources. Foods with the greatest content of calcium include dairy products, salmon, tofu, rhubarb, sardines, collard greens and broccoli leaves (not the crown the tiny leaves on the stalks.).

Dairy is part of the USDA food pyramid, but can be laden with saturated fat, so eat dairy that is fat free or very low in fat because saturated fat can be turned into cholesterol by our bodies, also increasing the risk for heart attack or stroke.

If you find yourself coping with osteopenia, the beginning stage of osteoporosis, don't forget to add vitamin D to your calcium intake. As reported here before there is growing evidence that the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is too low.

To see how one middle-aged man is applying anti-aging precepts to his own life, go to AntiAgingDiary.com. To embrace anti-aging you need to make a mental as well as physical journey. It's not always easy, but well worth the effort. Remember to watch our anti-aging documentary, “Reverse Aging Now.

Reverse Aging News c. 2009 Checkmate Pictures - Paul M. J. Suchecki, Editor

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