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Monday, September 27, 2010

Long Life News Update

I’m still alive and, as far as I know, fatal-disease-and-accident-free. Good news. If I keep going this way, only old age will get me. But I want to get it too. So that’s fine.

Considering the length of this venture it may seem ambitious to write a weekly blog about my efforts but I’m confident this will remaining a thrilling spectator sport for the next century. Look at the London marathon. I do, every year, for at least four hours, and every year I’m engrossed. I don’t care who wins, I don’t support a particular runner and I’m not trying to spot someone I know. I just like the event. So it shall be with my longevity race, I hope. And if it does get dull I’m sure I can find someone dressed as a lobster to talk to.

To reflect this on-going appeal, I thought I’d present my top ten recent news stories on the subject of longevity. Every day someone writes something new about something old; here are those that I have found most useful/interesting/odd over the last few weeks:

NUMBER 10 – OLD CITY


Here’s a report on a city in China called Rugao which is home to 255 people over the age of 100. Considering it only has a population of 1.45 million, this is a remarkable number. Its secret? Well, there’s more than one: ‘regular and healthy eating’ (I certainly do the former), ‘good sleeping habits’ (I do have a habit of sleeping) and a ‘favourable environment’.

This last one is probably the most tricky because according to a study by the Jiangsu Provincial Institute of Geological Survey (you’ll probably know them as JPIGS – like JPEGS, just more piggy), the area has more selenium in its soil than is usual and selenium, they say, can stop you getting cancer. So as soon as I find a good selenium shop, I’m buying a load of the stuff and spreading it across my garden, before having a big meal and going to bed.

NUMBER 9 – OLD BOOK
 

So, this book was published back in 2003 but it’s still getting a lot of attention today, hence its inclusion here. The blurb boasts that ‘The Omega-3 Miracle’ (an excellent title, I think) ‘is the secret to longevity’. Setting aside the thorny issue of whether a secret can still exist when printed in a book, it goes on to explain that Icelandic people don’t get ill much because they eat fish oils so we also, should eat fish oils. As far as I can tell, that’s the entire message of Garry Gordon’s book.

Sorry, he’s not just Garry Gordon, he’s Dr Garry Gordon, M.D., D.O., M.D.(H.), who ‘received his Doctor of Osteopathy in 1958 from the Chicago College of Osteopathy in Illinois... his honorary M.D. degree from the University of California, Irvine in 1962 and completed his Radiology Residency from Mt. Zion in San Francisco, California in 1964’. Not only that, ‘Dr. Gordon is founder/president of the International College of Advanced Longevity and is currently a fulltime consultant for Longevity Plus, an Arizona based nutritional supplement company whose products are widely used by alternative health practitioners around the world.’

Highly qualified indeed. Too qualified? Should you really trust someone who is both founder and president of an ‘International’ College of something called ‘Advanced Longevity’. Well, someone calling herself AndreaK thinks not: recently she reviewed his book with the following blast; ‘There are NO medical studies on Mr. Gordon’s product. The author is NOT an MD, though he uses the title in his name. He is not a cardiologist. He is not a practicing radiologist and, despite the bio, he can not be located anywhere as a practicing Osteopathic doctor either. He is a complete hoax! So eat healthy foods, live a healthy life style and save your money – don’t fork over your hard-earned cash to a guy who lies about his background. Love the photo on the cover of him with a stethoscope around his neck – almost makes you think the guy has a medical background.’

That’s the sort of passion the longevity game can engender.

NUMBER 8 – OLD INSURANCE POLICY


I never knew it existed but now I think I should almost certainly get myself some ‘longevity insurance’. Obviously, if/when I reach 150 years old Innocent Smoothies will be slipping me a cool million but it’d be nice to have money in the bank until that point too.

Longevity insurance, or deferred annuity, protects you from outliving your money, something I should probably have considered when setting about this project. According to this helpful site ‘a typical longevity policy is purchased after one turns 60 and begins paying a monthly income after the policy holder turns 85’ – about halfway through my life.

Back to the website for a quick summary: ‘Is a longevity policy worth the expense? The key factor, obviously, is your life expectancy. If you’re in good health and come from a long-lived family, a longevity policy could make a lot of sense. People are living longer and longer’. Well, yes, I suppose we are.

NUMBER 7 – OLD BILE


Only when I read this news report did I realise how little thought I’ve given to my bile so far. Quoting research from Canada’s Concordia University (recently published in a journal called Aging which I really must subscribe to), the author writes: ‘bile acids are beneficial to health and longevity. For example, they have shown to accumulate in the serum of long living mice and play a role in improving rodent liver and pancreatic function. This leads us to believe that bile acids have potential as pharmaceutical agents for the treatment of diabetes, obesity and various metabolic disorders, all of which are age-related… they may indeed offer hope for a healthy aging life.’

So, if you know somewhere that sells bile and selenium, let me know IMMEDIATELY.

NUMBER 6 – OLD MAID
 

This one isn’t all that relevant to me (I have a second kid arriving in time for Christmas – fingers, but nothing else, crossed), but on September 4th Edinburgh’s Isa Blyth celebrated her 106th birthday and, in the Sun’s words, ‘puts her amazing age down to being a VIRGIN’.

The rest of the article doesn’t hold too many surprises but you might be interested to know that ‘Isa has never even been KISSED’ (yes, this one was in capitals AND bold), she does like sherry, she worked in a whisky distillery and she celebrated her birthday with champagne. And if you think all that booze sounds a bit much for a centenarian, fear not. Have a look at number five.

NUMBER 5 – OLD DRINK


Ok, so we’ll rattle through the top five now. They all feature things that will, apparently, increase the length of your life and which I think will improve it too. For more details click the links.

Ignore the fact that this one comes from a website called www.daveywaveyfitness.com, the headline here is enough for me: heavy drinkers live longer. In fact, the more you read, the better it gets. The scientists cited by Wavey Davey (who do their thing at the University of Texas and Sanford University) have proved that both heavy and light drinkers outlive their non-drinking counterparts. The study took an astounding 20 years (but only featured 1,800 people which doesn’t sound like many to me but still...) and concluded that the known risks of alcohol are outweighed by its social benefits. Marvellous stuff.

NUMBER 4 – OLD CHOLESTEROL


Over to Tokyo now and news, at last, from the Japan Society for Lipid Nutrition who claim that high cholesterol levels are actually better for living longer. Hooray! There is a whole load of technical stuff about ‘good cholesterol’ and ‘bad cholesterol’ but basically I think I’m now ok to eat lots of eggs cooked in butter and booze.

NUMBER THREE – OLD FRIENDS


The news only gets better – you don’t have to enjoy all this not-so-naughty food and drink alone. Another study from America has revealed that people with no social life are fifty percent more likely to die early than those ‘who share a strong bond with friends’.

Now, I have to say that I don’t completely understand the maths here. Does that also mean that those ‘who share a strong bond with friends’ are also fifty percent more likely to die early than those with no social life? Never been good at numbers. Except for counting slowly (one number every year).

Other highlights from the study include the claim that ‘the impact of friends on life longevity was comparable to the effects of quitting smoking’ – so if you do smoke, don’t worry about giving up, just get on facebook; while those with few friends ‘are exposed to mortality risk … even higher than either obesity or physical inactivity’ – so if you are obese, don’t worry. Unless you also don’t have any friends.

NUMBER TWO – OLD BEAN


Not as exciting as the previous few but important to me at a time when my son is determined that I get up before six every morning: daily coffee also makes you live longer. Perhaps such a conclusion isn’t that surprising from a website promising ‘coffee things’ – there aren’t many goods (weapons excluded) sold on the basis that they actively shorten life. But the conclusions of the researchers at the University of Athens sound quite convincing for me, including as it does ‘the marked improvement that coffee has on the elasticity of the arteries, helping to prevent their ageing and thereby warding off potential heart disease.’ I know my arteries have felt particularly bendy over the past few weeks.

Incidentally, the 500 people examined all lived on Ikaria, a small Greek island also known as ‘longevity island’ because ‘a reported third of people live to reach their centennial birthday’. Not necessarily a fair place for this sort of study but maybe a future holiday destination.

NUMER ONE – OLD HAND


And at number one, mainly because it’s something I can introduce immediately at no extra cost but with a big smile on my face, is a study from the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) which states that a strong handshake means a longer life. Great stuff. Be warned that if we meet I’m going to grip your hand like a good ‘un (couldn’t think of a decent metaphor for gripping).

And here are some helpful links to strengthen your shake: Alternating Multi Curls.

See you somewhere soon (I’ll be the drunk, fat, slobbering, hyper one with loads of platonic friends with sore hands).

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