Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New book, The Biology of Human Longevity: Inflammation, Nutrition, and Aging in the Evolution of Lifespans

A New Book Examines Why and How We Age USNews & World Report 7/6/07 "In the last 200 years, one year of extra lifespan has been added for about every four years of historical time. Life expectancy has doubled since the industrial revolution, from about 40 years to near 80 years. The same factors that increased lifespan in modern times were also responsible for increasing human lifespans in evolution. Life expectancy doubled from 20 years in our great ape ancestors, to 40 years, which was the general human life expectancy before the modern era...What is inflammation, and how does it impact health? ...Inflammation comes from two major sources. The first is chronic infections, which have been reduced for most of us by advances in medical treatment. And of course, some infections we can't avoid. The second source of inflammation is the environment—what we breathe and what we eat. Obesity, for example, is a pro-inflammatory state. Fat tissues secrete inflammatory molecules called cytokines, which contribute to chronic inflammation and conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoking and air pollution are linked to vascular and lung diseases. The point is that the environment governs the progress of a number of the diseases of aging, such as atherosclerosis, cancer, and Alzheimer's. What can people do to stay healthy and live longer? ...Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight—both of which have anti-inflammatory effects—are remarkably preventive for all the diseases of aging. This cuts across all the systems. What's good for your heart is good for your brain and is good for preventing cancer. The separate diseases of adult life are much more related to each other and to overall health than we previously recognized."

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