23 July 2018
MONDAY, July 23, 2018 (HealthDay News) — It’s only worked in mice so far, but scientists report a finding that might pave a path to erase the signs of aging in humans. In the new study, the researchers focused on the function of mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells. They produce 90 percent of the chemical energy that cells need to survive, according to the study. When the study team triggered a mutation that causes mitochondrial dysfunction, the mice quickly developed wrinkled skin and fur loss. In just four weeks, the mice showed gray hair, reduced hair density, slowed movements and lethargy — changes that are all hallmarks of aging. Wrinkled skin was seen four to eight weeks after the mutation was introduced, and females had more severe wrinkles than males. But when mitochondrial function was restored by turning off the mutation, the mice regained smooth skin and thick fur that was indistinguishable from healthy mice of the same age. “To our knowledge, this observation is unprecedented,” said study author Keshav Singh, a professor of genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Research in animals often doesn’t produce the same results in humans. But the study authors believe this finding opens the door to further investigation. “This mouse model should provide an unprecedented opportunity for the development of preventive and therapeutic drug development strategies to augment the mitochondrial functions for the treatment of aging-associated skin and hair pathology and other human diseases in which mitochondrial dysfunction plays a significant role,” Singh said in a university news release. The study was published July 20 in the journal Cell Death and Disease. More information The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotions outlines how to protect your health as you age.
12 March 2018
MONDAY, March 12, 2018 (HealthDay News) — A hip replacement may help seniors live longer — for at least a decade anyway, a new study from Sweden suggests. “Our study suggests that hip replacement can add years to life as well as adding ‘life to years’ — increasing the chances of longer survival as well as improving the quality of life,” said study author Dr. Peter Cnudde. He’s an orthopedic surgeon with the Swedish Hip Arthroplasty Register in Gothenburg. Cnudde’s team analyzed data on nearly 132,000 residents of Sweden, 68 years old on average, who’d had a total hip replacement between 1999 and 2012. The patients’ progress was assessed for about six years after their operation. In that time, about 16 percent of the study participants died. However, those who’d had the surgery had a longer life expectancy for the decade after their procedure than did people of similar age who had not had a hip replacement. Survival was 1 percent higher among hip replacement patients in the first year after their procedure, 3 percent higher after five years and 2 percent higher after 10 years, the study found. After 12 years, the two groups had similar survival rates. The survival benefit was most significant among people with age-related hip wear and tear — called primary osteoarthritis. They accounted for 91 percent of those who’d had hip replacements. People with a higher number of other health conditions had lower survival odds after hip replacement, as did those who were single and had lower levels of education. The study was published online recently in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. Only an association, rather than a cause-and-effect link, was seen in the study. And the reasons why people who’ve had hip replacement surgery seem to live longer remain unclear, according to the researchers, but likely involve many factors. “No surgeon would recommend [total hip replacement] to patients just to live longer,” Cnudde said in a journal news release. “But it is likely that the chances of surviving longer are associated with undergoing the successful operation, for patients in need of a hip replacement.” More information The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on hip replacement.
05 January 2018
FRIDAY, Jan. 5, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Could facial “yoga” be a new fountain of youth? A new, small study suggests it’s possible. Investigators asked 27 middle-aged women (between 40 and 65) to embark on a 20-week facial exercise regimen. For the first half of the study, the women were asked to perform 32 specific facial exercises daily, for about a half hour in total. For the remainder of the study period, the exercise regimen was performed every other day. Two dermatologists then compared photographs taken before the study began with photographs taken both halfway through and again at the end. The result: By the study’s end, participants appeared to have turned back the clock by an average of nearly three years. “The scientists looking at appearance changes found that the upper and lower cheeks were full after the study,” explained study author Dr. Murad Alam. He’s vice chair in the department of dermatology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “Patients themselves found even greater benefits, and noticed that 18 of the 20 areas and features of the face that were studied got better over the course of the study,” Alam said. “In general,” he added, “the appearance benefit was that the contour of the face became smoother, fuller and firmer.” The investigators noted that skin elasticity tends to loosen over time, and fat “pads” located between the muscle and skin thin out. The exercise experiment set out to combat that. Participants first underwent two 90-minute training sessions. Each exercise was one minute in duration, and included such movement-to-hold positions as smiling without showing teeth; pursing the lips; and smiling while forcing the cheek muscles upwards. Before the study, age appearance was pegged at 50.8 years old, on average. Midway through the program that dropped to 49.6 years, finishing at 48.1 years by the end of the 20 weeks. That said, not all the women stuck to the program, with 11 dropping out before the study ended. But a survey of those who stuck with it suggested a high rate of satisfaction with the regimen and results. The findings were published Jan. 3 in the journal JAMA Dermatology. Alam noted that none of the researchers had a financial interest in the facial yoga exercise program. As for whether men or perhaps younger women might achieve a similar benefit, Alam said, “we would expect to see an effect. But until we study it we won’t know if it is a little more or a little less.” Still, exercise alone may not be enough “to replace the tried-and-tested methods of improving facial appearance” that can be achieved with fillers, lasers and the like, Alam acknowledged. Instead, exercises might best serve to enhance such interventions, he said. Meanwhile, Dr. Steve Xu, who also teaches dermatology at Northwestern University but was not involved in the study, cautioned that the study was small and 11 of the 27 patients dropped out. “That’s something to keep in mind,” he said. But Xu praised the study design while suggesting that facial exercise “makes a lot of intuitive sense.” Why? “Facial aging is so much more than just seeing more wrinkles on the face,” said Xu. “It’s a complex process, and includes thinning of the upper layers of the skin, loss of collagen and elastin in the deeper layers of the skin, and loss of fat and muscle. “Oftentimes,” Xu continued, “it’s the loss of the fat and muscle that really adds years to a person’s face. High cheekbones is a large component of an attractive face. When we age, this definition fades, leading the cheeks to lose their fullness pulling the face inward and downward. This then leads to the jaw becoming less defined as well. “Strengthening facial muscles through exercise makes a lot of sense in helping reverse some of those changes, by allowing the muscles of the face to get bigger and provide more fullness to the overlying skin,” he said. More information There’s more on facial aging at Harvard Medical School.