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Women turn back time on age-reversing eating plan



It may sound too good to be true, but a new study conducted in the US has shown it’s possible to reverse the body’s biological clock in as little as two months with diet and lifestyle changes.

Five women following a tailored ‘longevity’ diet and lifestyle programme saw their biological age reduced by up to 11 years in the small study looking at whether time can be turned back.

Six women completed the methylation-supportive diet and lifestyle regimen mapped out by researchers from the Institute for Functional Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and the American Nutrition Association.

After eight weeks, five of the six participants saw a reduction in their biological age. The maximum was 11.01 years and the minimum 1.22, with a mean biological age pullback of 4.6 years.

The findings featured in the journal Aging, which publishes investigative papers in all fields of ageing research, extends a previous pilot study involving men between 50-72 years.

In that instance the group saw their biological age go down by an average of 3.23 years.

The six women recruited for this latest research had an average age of 57.9. The eight-week programme they undertook included guidance on diet, exercise, sleep and relaxation, as well as supplemental probiotics and phytonutrients, and nutritional coaching.

DNA methylation and biological age analysis was conducted on blood samples at baseline and at the end of the eight-week period using the Horvath’s clock, a method that allows scientists to calculate ageing by examining certain chemical changes to genetic material.

The researchers noted that five of the six women had a biological age younger than their chronological at the start of the investigation. This, the researchers said, suggested that biological age changes were not related to disease improvement and instead might be attributed to underlying age mechanisms.

Whilst the researchers acknowledged that the small number of participants and a lack of control group were significant limitations of the study, they added: “This case series of women participants extends the previous pilot study of this intervention in men, indicating that favourable biological age changes may be achievable in both sexes.

“In addition, the investigation of otherwise-healthy individuals, rather than those with diagnosed disease, suggests an influence directly on underlying mechanisms of ageing instead of disease-driven ageing.”

The women followed a methylation-supportive diet that weekly included three, 3oz servings of liver (or a liver supplement in capsule form), and five to 10 preferably free-range, omega-3 enriched and organic eggs.

Additionally, the women were asked to consume daily:

  • Two cups of dark, leafy greens, such as kale and spinach.
  • Three cups of colourful vegetables chosen by the participants, but not including sweetcorn and potatoes.
  • Two servings of low-glycemic fruit.
  • One to two medium-sized beets.
  • Two cups of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Four teaspoons each of pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  • Six ounces of animal protein that was grass fed, free of hormones and antibiotics, and organic.
  • One or more servings of methylation adaptogens, such as half a cup of berries, two cups of green tea brewed for 10 minutes and half a teaspoon of turmeric.

The guidance also included adding healthy oils like flaxseed and coconut, not eating between 7pm and 7am, and drinking eight cups of water a day.

The women were also asked to avoid confectionery, dairy products, added sugar, legumes and grains, to get a minimum of seven hours sleep per night, and to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day for no less than five days each week.

To help combat stress, the women were requested to perform breathing exercises twice a day.

Reversing the biological clock and making the body’s cells young again has become the new scientific ‘Holy Grail.’ For most of history the average life span was less than 50 years, but thanks to improved nutrition and medical advances made across the 20th Century, the global average is now 73.

But reaching your three score years and ten is not long enough for some people. There is an increasing desire amongst those with cash to splash to emulate Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, the story of a man who gains the ability to remain eternally young so long as his portrait becomes ever more wrinkled and decrepit with each passing day.

Earlier this year 45-year-old American tech entrepreneur Bryan Johnson hit the headlines when he admitted to spending around $2m a year on medical procedures, treatments and a strict diet, in a bid to regain his youth.

According to an interview he gave to Bloomberg, Johnson employs a team of 30 doctors and health experts who monitor his “every bodily function” as he looks to achieve the “brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, tendons, teeth, skin, hair, bladder, penis and rectum of an 18-year-old.”





Europe: Improving access to early-stage lung cancer care



Europe: Improving access to early-stage lung cancer care

Researchers from Amsterdam UMC Cancer Center Amsterdam have looked at inequalities in access to early-stage lung cancer care in Europe.

Early-stage lung cancer has stark differences between European countries regarding access and reimbursement.

There are also differences in reimbursement times and indications between the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Researchers from Amsterdam UMC Cancer Center Amsterdam analysed the landscape, publishing their results in The Lancet Regional Health Europe as part of a series on the latest developments in the treatment of this lung cancer.

“Tackling inequalities in access to care must be a common European priority,” says Amsterdam UMC pulmonologist Idris Bahce. In collaboration with colleagues from seven European countries, Bahce used a literature review to map out the latest developments and analyse access to these new treatments from a European perspective.

“The existing differences in healthcare systems and reimbursement structures between European countries threaten to exacerbate healthcare inequalities at both European and national level. We therefore call for a collective European approach to reduce these inequalities,” says Bahce.

He suggests measures such as more international cooperation between the EMA and other registration authorities, harmonising cost-effectiveness procedures in European countries, a more critical evaluation of reimbursement criteria and improving multidisciplinary collaborations around the patient.

The standard treatment for fit patients with early-stage lung cancer has always been surgery, sometimes combined with pre- or post-operative chemotherapy. Recently, the EMA has approved new treatments such as immunotherapy, which appear to significantly improve survival rates after surgery. More approvals of innovative treatments are expected, potentially further exacerbating existing inequalities within Europe.

In addition to the Dutch hospitals Amsterdam UMC and Erasmus MC, colleagues from Spain, France, Germany, England, Italy and Poland also contributed to this international study as well as a Review and a Viewpoint in The Lancet Regional Health Europe.

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Study looks at link between adversity and cognitive decline



A new paper has examined the relationship between childhood adversity and psychiatric decline, as well as adult adversity and psychiatric and cognitive decline. 

The findings revealed just one instance of adversity in childhood can increase cases of mental illness later in life. It also revealed that adverse events in adults can lead to a greater chance of both mental illness and cognitive decline later in life. 

The paper has been published by Saint Louis University associate professor of health management and policy in the College for Public Health and Social Justice, SangNam Ahn, Ph.D., in Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Ahn stated: “Life is very complicated, very dynamic. I really wanted to highlight the importance of looking into the lasting health effect of adversity, not only childhood but also adulthood adversity on health outcomes, especially physical health and psychiatric and cognitive health. 

“There have been other studies before, but this is one of the first that looks into these issues comprehensively.” 

Ahn, along with his team of researchers, examined data from nearly 3500 individuals over the course of 24 years. The group took the longitudinal data and evaluated it using a list of lifetime potential traumatic events.

The research team included childhood adversity events such as moving due to financial difficulties, family requiring financial help, a parent experiencing unemployment, trouble with law enforcement before the age of 18, repeating school, physical abuse and parental abuse of drugs or alcohol. 

Adulthood adversity events included the death of a child, the death of a spouse, experiencing a natural disaster after age 17, firing a weapon in combat, a partner abusing drugs or alcohol, being a victim of a physical attack after age 17, a spouse or child battling a serious illness, receiving Medicaid or food stamps and experiencing unemployment. 

The study determined that nearly 40% of all individuals experienced a form of childhood adversity, while that number climbed to nearly 80% for adulthood adversity. Those who experienced childhood adversity were also 17% more likely to experience adulthood adversity. Only 13% of individuals sampled reported two or more forms of childhood adversity, while 52% of adults experienced two or more forms of adult adversity. 

In cases of either childhood adversity or adulthood adversity, researchers found individuals who experienced adversity were also more likely to experience anxiety and depression later in life, and in the case of adulthood adversity, were also more likely to experience cognitive decline later in life. 

Individuals with one childhood adversity experience saw a 5% higher chance of suffering from anxiety, and those with two or more childhood adversity experiences had 26% and 10% higher chances of depression and anxiety, respectively. Individuals who experienced two adulthood adversities had a 24% higher chance of depression, while also experiencing a 3% cognitive decline later in life. 

While most of the results were expected or unsurprising, one area that stood out to Ahn was education. Those individuals studied who reported higher levels of education saw a reduction in the number of adversity experiences. Ahn hopes to study this avenue more to learn how education may be able to mitigate or prevent these declines. 

“Before including education, there was a significant association between childhood adversity and cognitive impairment,” Ahn said. 

“But when including education as a covariate, that significant association disappeared. Interesting. So there were important implications here. Education and attending school, people could be better off even if they were exposed to childhood adversity. They’re likely to learn positive coping mechanisms, which may help avoid  relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking or excessive drinking or drug use.

“Education is quite important in terms of health outcomes. If I am educated, I’m likely to get a better job, have a higher income, and live in areas with less crime. I’m likely to buy gym membership or regularly exercise. I’m likely to shop at Whole Foods and get proper nutrition. All of which help combat these adversities we hinted at in the study. So the education and health outcomes are already closely related, and that is what we saw in our study.”

Ahn also encourages clinicians and everyday people alike to discuss their stress. Clinicians can learn more about their patients and have a better approach when it comes to their physical and mental health, while others could potentially relate to shared experiences. But through awareness and recognition, these adverse experiences could potentially have less serious, lasting effects. 

“Public health is very interested in stress,” Ahn said. “But we’re still examining how daily stress impacts our long term health outcomes. So to see the effects here in the study, I want people to pay attention to their stress and proactively address it. Clinicians should have deep discussions with their patients about their stress and mental state. And those topics can be approached in other areas too, like the classroom or the dining room table. The more we are aware of stress and discuss our stress, the better we can handle any adversities we find in life.”

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New tool to explore mechanisms of age-related diseases



New tool to explore mechanisms of age-related diseases

A new screening tool has been developed that will investigate the mechanisms behind conditions such as cancer, arthritis, neurodegeneration and cardiovascular disease.

Wellcome Sanger Institute researchers and their collaborators at Open Targets and EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) have developed the screening tool called scSNV-seq.

The tool has been designed to uncover how genetic changes affect gene activity that can lead to diseases such as cancer, autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. 

The tool enables the investigation of thousands of DNA mutations identified by genetic studies in one experiment, and will help to guide the development of advanced diagnostics and treatments.

scSNV-seq allows the rapid assessment of the impact of thousands of genetic changes in cells that have never been screened before, directly connecting these changes to how those same cells operate. 

This technique helps researchers to pinpoint mutations that contribute to disease, which will offer crucial insights for developing targeted therapies.

In a new study, published in Genome Biology, the team applied scSNV-seq to the blood cancer gene, JAK1, accurately assessing the impact of JAK1 mutations.

The assessment revealed for the first time that certain mutations caused a “halfway house” phenotype cycling between different states which was not possible under previous approaches.

The technique is designed to demonstrate versatility across cell types, including hard-to-culture primary cells like T cells and stem-cell derived neurons, as well as various editing methods such as base editing and prime editing. 

Applied on a large scale, scSNV-seq could transform understanding of the genetic changes driving cancer and decoding genetic risk for Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes and other complex diseases.

Dr Sarah Cooper, first author of the study at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, stated: “In an era where the rate of genetic variant discovery outpaces our ability to interpret their effects, scSNV-seq fills a major gap for studying challenging cells like T cells and neurons. 

“We are already using it to shed light on the impact of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s risk variants on brain cells.”

Dr Andrew Bassett, senior author of the study at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “Our technique is able to directly connect effects of mutations to how a cell behaves, revealing downstream impacts that previous technologies alone cannot deliver. 

“The technique speeds up the identification of causal genetic mutations, which will allow better diagnosis and deepens our molecular understanding of diseases, paving the way for more targeted and effective treatments.”

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