New longevity study

Boston: A new study is trying to determine the secret to living to age 100 by looking at genetic and environmental characteristics common to people in families who live longer.

Dr Thomas Perls of the Boston University Medical Centre which is carrying out the study says: “Exceptional longevity runs very strongly in families. Where people have a markedly increased chance of living longer so we want to find out what these family members have in common, as in environment, behavior and genes.”

One such person is Tony Pierro, who is 110-years-old and credits diet.

“Three good meals,” he said. “Nothing to worry about.”

His brother, Nick Pierro said: “The secret is to learn early in life to have peace of mind.”

Nick’s son, Rick, 57, who’s also taking part in the study, agrees.

“I think you have to go with their outlook – have no problems, no worries, keep headaches to a minimum, good eating. Your health is very important,” he said.

Researchers conducting the study are looking for families with at least two siblings who are 90 or older to take part in the study.

Exercise may help fight cancer

New Jersey:A study of mice has shown that exercise helps fight cancer.

Researchers at Rutgers University found that female mice exposed to a form of ultraviolet light took longer to develop skin tumours if they had access to a running wheel.

However, experts warned the study, published in the journal Carcinogenesis, was not an excuse to go out in the sun unprotected.

In the first part of the study mice were exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) three times a week for 16 weeks. Then for the next 14 weeks, in the absence of further UVB treatment, half the mice had access to running wheels in their cages, while the other half did not.

In the second part mice were exposed to UVB light twice a week for 33 weeks, and, from the beginning, half had access to a running wheel and half did not.

All the mice in the high risk part of the study developed skin tumours. But exercising mice took an average of seven weeks to show signs of cancer, compared to an average of just 3.5 weeks in the mice which took no exercise.

The tumours in the exercising mice were also less numerous and smaller.

Non-malignant tumour size per mouse was decreased by 54% and malignant tumour size per mouse by 73%.

The second part of the study produced similar results. Again the exercising mice were slower to develop tumours, developed fewer tumours and those that they did develop were smaller.

This time non-malignant tumour size per mouse was decreased by 75% and malignant tumour size per mouse by 69%.

Analysis of samples found that exercise appeared to enhance programmed cell death (apoptosis) – a process that removes sun-damaged cells – both in the skin, and in tumours.

Lead researcher Dr Allan Conney said: “While UVB is triggering the development of tumours, exercise is counteracting the effect by stimulating the death of the developing cancer cells.”

Dr Conney said the results also showed that animals with less fat developed less tumours. He said this might be a significant factor – particularly as obesity rates were rising throughout the Western world.

Wine drinkers have healthier diets than beer drinkers

Copenhagen: People who buy wine also buy healthier food and therefore have healthier diets than people who buy beer, finds a Danish study.

Studies have shown that drinking wine is associated with lower mortality than drinking beer or spirits. Some studies have also suggested that wine drinkers have healthier diets than beer or spirits drinkers, and this may explain wine’s beneficial effect on health.

To study this theory, researchers in Denmark investigated the link between the purchase of beer and wine and various food items from supermarkets. The results are published in the British Medical Journal

They analysed 3.5 million transactions chosen at random from 98 outlets of two large Danish supermarket chains over a six month period (September 2002 to February 2003).

Customers were categorised as “wine only,” “beer only,” “mixed,” or “non-alcohol” buyers. Details of items bought, the number and price of the items, and the total charge for each customer’s transaction were recorded.

They found that wine buyers bought more olives, fruit and vegetables, poultry, cooking oil, and low fat cheese, milk, and meat than beer buyers. Beer buyers bought more ready cooked dishes, sugar, cold cuts, chips, pork, butter or margarine, sausages, lamb, and soft drinks than wine buyers.

These results indicate that people who buy (and presumably drink) wine purchase a greater number of healthy food items than those who buy beer, say the authors. They also support findings from the United States, Denmark, and France showing that wine drinkers tend to eat fruit, vegetables, and fish and use cooking oil more often and saturated fat less often than those who prefer other alcoholic drinks.

The health benefits of drinking wine may be due to specific substances in wine or to different characteristics of people who drink other types of alcohol, they add. Thus, it is crucial that studies on the relation between alcohol intake and mortality adjust for other lifestyle factors such as drinking patterns, smoking, physical activity, education, or income.