Finally, a health benefit to getting older?

You are not getting older, you are getting better

New research is suggesting that blood vessels can actually get better with age and arteries adapt to oxidative stress caused by aging. These new findings contradict earlier theories and they may point to new ways to improve heart health and extend successful aging.

Oxidative stress is thought to be the main cause of many age-related diseases. It has been linked to cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases including diabetes, hypertension and age-related cancers. However, researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) have found that aging actually offered significant protection against oxidative stress. These findings suggest that aging may trigger an adaptive response to counteract the effects of oxidative stress on blood vessels.

“The most surprising thing we found is that the endothelium (lining of the blood vessels) was much less perturbed by oxidative stress during advanced age when compared to younger age. This finding contrasts with the generally held belief that the functional integrity of the endothelium is compromised as we age. Our study suggests that blood vessels adapt during the aging process,” said senior author of the study Steven Segal, who is a professor of medical pharmacology and physiology at the MU School of Medicine, Columbia, Missouri.

He said although more studies are needed to identify the mechanism by which the endothelium adapts to advanced age, these findings could lead to new treatments for preventing heart disease.

Today, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year (1 in every 4 deaths).

A diet pill made of spinach extract

Popeye was right all along. Eating spinach may be really good for you. A new study has found that consuming the concentrated extract of thylakoids found in spinach can reduce hunger and cravings.

Thylakoids encourage the release of satiety hormones, which is very beneficial in slowing down fat digestion.

The researchers conducted a study with 30 men and 30 women who were overweight or obese. They consumed either the spinach extract or a placebo in random order at least a week apart. The researchers looked at cholesterol levels and glucose levels before a normal breakfast, followed by a dose of the extract and a standard lunch four hours later. After another four hours, pizza was served. Throughout the daily activities various blood tests and responses were gathered.

The results showed that the spinach extract containing thylakoids increased satiety over a two-hour period compared to a placebo. There were no differences in plasma lipids and energy intake at dinner, but there were gender differences observed.

The researchers reported that thylakoid consumption may influence gender-specific food cravings. In a previous study, it was found that in women a reduced urge for sweets was significant after a single dose of the spinach extract and the reduced urge for sweets was sustained throughout the study. The researchers have published their findings in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Prostate cancer divided into five categories

Cancer investigators In England have for the first time identified that there are five distinct types of prostate cancer and found a way to distinguish between them. The findings could have important implications for how prostate cancer is treated in the future. It may help better identify which men are candidates for active surveillance (watchful waiting) or aggressive therapy.

The researchers from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and Addenbrooke’s Hospital studied samples of healthy and cancerous prostate tissue from more than 250 men. By looking for abnormal chromosomes and measuring the activity of 100 different genes linked to the disease they were able to group the tumors into five distinct types. Each type had a characteristic genetic fingerprint. This analysis was better at predicting which cancers were likely to be the most aggressive than the tests currently used by doctors, including the PSA test, and Gleason score.

“Our exciting results show that prostate cancer can be classified into five genetically-different types. These findings could help doctors decide on the best course of treatment for each individual patient, based on the characteristics of their tumor,” said study author Dr. Alastair Lamb from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. “The next step is to confirm these results in bigger studies and drill down into the molecular ‘nuts and bolts’ of each specific prostate cancer type. By carrying out more research into how the different diseases behave we might be able to develop more effective ways to treat prostate cancer patients in the future, saving more lives.”

John Schieszer is an award-winning national journalist and radio broadcaster of The Medical Minute. He can be reached at