Men with higher levels of testosterone may live longer, suggests new research

San Diego: Men with higher levels of the hormone testosterone may live longer, according to a new study.

Men with low testosterone levels tend to have fatter waists, high blood pressure and higher blood sugar levels, researchers found.

Those with high levels of the male sex hormone tended to have a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes in later life.

The study – the first of its kind to look at normal, relatively fit males – could lead to men with low levels taking supplements.

The survey followed the lives of 800 men aged over 51 since the 1970s. It found that those with low testosterone levels were a third more likely to die over an 18-year period than those with high testosterone levels.

The results cast doubt on the popular wisdom that the female hormone, oestrogen, is “good” for health in later life and testosterone is ‘bad’. According to the research team at the San Diego School of Medicine, the discrepancy could not be explained by pre-existing diseases such as diabetes or heart disease.

Dr Gail Laughlin, from the school’s Department of Family and Preventative Medicine, said: “We have followed these men for an average of 18 years and our study strongly suggests that the association between testosterone levels and death is not simply due to some acute illness. The study did show there may be an association between low testosterone levels and higher mortality.”

She cautioned that the study did not directly show that higher testosterone levels protected against diseases.

Testosterone declines slowly with age. However, there is a wide natural variation in the amount that different men produce.

The researchers said that besides tending to have larger waists and higher blood pressure, men low in testosterone had higher levels of inflammatory cytokines, proteins that contribute to the development of many diseases.

The San Diego School of Medicine is now considering trials of testosterone supplements to see if they have a preventative effect.

However, Dr Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, of the San Diego School of Medicine’s Division of Epidemiology, said the prospect of men popping testosterone pills to protect against diseases was a long way off.

She said: “We are very excited about these findings, which have important implications, but we are not ready to say that men should go out and get testosterone to prolong their lives.

She also said that low testosterone levels could be a by-product of obesity and suggested it may be possible to alter testosterone levels by lowering obesity.

Neurotic men likely to die earlier, says new US report

Mellow men live longer, according to o new research from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana in the US.

“We found that neurotic men whose levels (of neurosis) dropped over time had a better chance at living longer,” said Dan Mroczek, an associate professor of child development and family studies at Purdue

“They seemed to recover from any damage high levels of the trait may have caused. On the flip side, neurotic men whose neuroticism increased over time died much sooner than their peers.”

Researchers defined a neurotic personality as “a person with the tendency to worry, feel excessive amounts of anxiety or depression and to react to stressful life events more negatively than people with low levels of the trait.”

While researchers tracked 1,663 men — more than 90 per cent of whom were white — for 12 years, Mroczek believes the results would be similar for women or other ethnicities.

“You can find the full range of personalities in any ethnic or gender group,” he said. “There are those who are laid-back and then there are those who worry, who react very poorly to stress, who are always on edge.” Mroczek suspects a contributing factor behind early death in neurotic men may be high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Later this year, he will study the link.

The study’s results will be published in the Psychological Science in late May.

Women now live longer than men, even in the poorest countries

Sheffield: 2006 is likely to be the first year in human history when – across almost all the world – women can expect to outlive men, say researchers in the current issue of the British Medical Journal.

The trend towards this remarkable achievement will probably be confirmed this week in the 2006 world health report.

“We tend to forget that in many countries of the world women could expect, until recently, to live fewer years than men and that maternal death in particular remains a big killer,” write Danny Dorling and colleagues. In Europe, men last outlived women in the Netherlands in 1860 and in Italy in 1889. Elsewhere females’ life expectancy has long exceeded males’: in Sweden since 1751, Denmark since 1835, England and Wales since 1841.

But in all western European countries the life expectancy gap between women and men is now narrowing.

Greater emancipation has freed women to demand better health care and to behave more like men, and most importantly to smoke, say the authors. As this transition is so recent, the processes driving it cannot be purely biological: they relate primarily to social change.

“We must remember, though, that life expectancy data apply from birth onwards, so the picture would be different in some countries if life expectancy from conception was considered,” they add. “But even the life expectancy from birth may not be a permanent achievement, given that the largest remaining untapped market for cigarettes in the world is made up of women living in poorer countries,” they conclude.

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Calorie restriction does extend life, US scientists confirm

Louisiana: The first calorie-controlled diet to extend life in humans has confirmed that it reduces signs of ageing.

Researchers at Louisiana State University found that six months on a low calorie diet was enough to significantly cut the chances of developing diseases of ageing such as cancer. The findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A group of 48 overweight men and women aged between 25 and 50 were monitored in the experiement over a six month period.

A quarter of them were put on a diet of 25 per cent fewer calories than they would be expected to eat for their age and weight.

Another quarter had their calorie intake reduced by 12.5 per cent and were also put on a strict exercise regime.

A third group stuck to a very strict diet of 890 calories a day – which compares with guidelines for people with low activity levels of 1,640 calories for women and 2,550 for men. The remainder were placed on a regime designed to maintain their weight.

The volunteers on the fewest calories lost 14 per cent of their body weight on average over the six months, while the other calorie-restricted dieters both lost 10 per cent.

All of those who cut down on their calories showed a fall in average core body temperature and reduced fasting insulin levels, both linked to living longer.

The rate at which their DNA decayed – a natural process – also slowed, reducing their chances of developing mutations and degenerative diseases related to ageing such as cancer.

Earlier this year scientists at Washington University also discovered that people on calorie-controlled diets had more elastic than others of the same age and gender.

After an average of six years on the regime, the experiment established that their hearts were able to relax between beats in a manner associated with much younger people.

Dr Luigi Fontana, who led the Washington study, said the latest research was the first to show a significant decline in DNA damage from calorie restriction.

He said: ‘The value of these studies is that they suggest possible mechanisms of ageing in humans and points of intervention to modify the effects of ageing.’

Dr Fontana’s colleague, John Holloszy, who originally found caloric restriction increased lifespan in mice and rats by 30 per cent, said the research was a turning point.

He said: ‘It’s becoming clear from studies that calorie restriction does change some of the markers we associate with ageing.’

Doctors Fontana and Holloszy will soon begin a study into the effects of a calorie-restricted diet over two years.

‘We know people on calorie restriction will lose weight,’ Dr Fontana said. ‘But this study isn’t a weightloss study. We’re hoping to learn more about whether calorie restriction can alter the ageing process.’

In long-term studies on monkeys carried out by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, those on calorie- controlled diets suffered fewer ailments such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

One of the underfed monkeys reached 38 years, the human equivalent of 114 years.

Experts believe cutting calories works by causing biochemical changes in the body, reducing free radicals, the toxic particles created by the breakdown of food which are more difficult to eradicate in an ageing body.

Women aged 74 can expect to live to 90, says new study

London: People born in the 1930s were the first to see a dramatic increase in life expectancy, according to a new survey being presented to the UK’s Institute of Actuaries this week.

The single biggest leap is recorded among those who are now just past, or just approaching, their 74th birthday. The increase is put down to better medical care, greater wealth and smaller families.

A woman now aged 74 can expect to live to nearly 90, while a man will on average reach his 87th birthday, according to the study for the savings industry. The numbers dying at 70 will continue to decline by 3.5 per cent a year over the next two decades as medical science and general health care improves, the report says.

Stephen Richards, co-author of the report said that people born in the 1930s had a better chance of living longer because of the advances in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis in their early years. There was also a very strong fall in heart disease from 1975 onwards.Seventy-somethings have also adopted healthier lifestyles, including better diets and giving up smoking, as well as being too young to serve inthe second world war.

Women can expect to live to 89

London: Women in the UK aged 65 today can expect to live until 89 as a result of improvements in life expectancy, says a report from the insurance actuarial profession.

The figures also reveal that men of the same age will on average reach their 86th birthday. Life expectancy figures are expected to continue to improve with men aged 65 in 2015 living until they are 90 and women until 93. Longevity is improving as a result of improved medical treatment for killer diseases such as cancer.

Whilst this is good news, state and private pension systems in most western countries are already suffering from the burden of a growing ageing population and poor investment returns. In the UK the Government is attempting to raise the age of retirement.

The figures, from the Continuous Mortality Investigation, suggests the life expectancy of today’s 65-yearold men is three-and-a-half years longer than in 1994, when the last study was conducted by the CMI. They questioned savers who are more likely to be middle-class and better off financially.

Official figures put life expectancy lower because they take data from all social groups. The latest Government figures show a girl born in 2002 can expect to live until 80. A boy born in the same year can expect to live until 76.

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Mediterranean diet extends life

A Mediterranean-style diet can extend the average life by a year, according to experts at the University of Athens Medical School.

Eating fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil together with an occasional glass of wine and a low consumption of diary and meat, can contribute to longevity.

The findings are based on a study of 74,000 men and women in nine European countries and found that a healthy man of 60 who followed the diet could expect to live a year longer than one of the same age who ate differently.

The conclusion endorses the findings of previous research in which the Mediterranean diet is responsible for a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer, the biggest killer diseases in the developed world.

Analysis of the findings showed those who followed the Mediterranean-diet quite closely were less likely to be among the group who died.

The Greeks were found to adhere most closely to the Mediterranean diet followed by the Spanish, Italians and French.

The British were fifth – ahead of the Danes, the Germans, the Swedes and the Dutch, who came last.