Entries in Old Age (2)


Centenarians' Positive Attitude Linked to Long Life

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Living to a very old age may be "in the genes" as the saying goes, still a recent study published in the journal Aging suggests that certain personality traits make up a major part of the mix of longevity genes.

Researchers found that having a positive attitude and a sense of humor could play a role in living a longer, healthier life.  They developed a questionnaire designed to identify certain genetically-based personality traits and used it to assess 243 Ashkenazi Jewish adults between 95 and 107 years of age. The investigators chose this population because their genetic similarity would make it easier to account for genetic differences in personality.

"The results indicated they had two things -- a positive attitude for life, meaning they are optimistic, easygoing, extraverted, laughed more and expressed emotions rather than bottling them up," said Dr. Nil Barzilai, a study co-author and director of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Institute for Aging Research.

The study participants also were less neurotic and more conscientious than a representative sample of other Americans.

Based on census data, centenarians make up about .2 percent of the U.S. population, but the number has been rapidly increasing, the authors wrote.

Previous research has suggested that the oldest adults may be genetically predisposed to living longer and healthier -- both physiologically and psychologically -- and that personality can affect a person's physical health.

"There's an interaction between personality and physiology," said Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Center on Aging.  Small was not involved in Barzilai's study, but has done research in this area. "It makes sense that being more positive causes less stress and seems to get people on the right track to live better."

The genes, it turns out, play a less important role in determining longevity.

"Several studies have found that genetics accounts for only about one-third of how long and well we live," said Small, who is also co-author of The Alzheimer's Prevention Program.

Barzilai added that it's still not known precisely how personality influences longevity.

"We still need to find out what the cause-and-effect relationship is," he said.  "We don't know if we can change longevity by having a positive attitude, or if achieving longevity causes a positive attitude."

They also hope to determine whether centenarians' positive outlook persisted throughout their entire lives, or if their personalities changed between the ages of 70 and 100, as some data have suggested.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Stem Cell Shots Make Aging Mice Young Again

Comstock/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Injecting younger cells into aging bodies could help people live longer -- and stronger, at least according to new research performed on mice.

Scientists said the research, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, offered provocative new clues about the potential to treat aging and ailing cells, but it doesn't mean they've uncovered a new fountain of youth.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center genetically altered mice to make them age faster, making them old and weak in a span of 17 days. The scientists then injected the mice with stem cell-like cells taken from the muscle of young, healthy mice.

The result was that they reversed the aging process. The rapidly aging mice lived up to three times longer, dying after 66 days, rather than 28 days. The cell injection also appeared to make the animals healthier, improving their muscle strength and brain blood flow.

In recent years, scientists have agreed that aging in both animals and humans begins when stem cells lose their ability to rejuvenate the body's tissues. While aging is universal, some researchers believe it may also be reversible.

The mice in the study had a condition of rapid aging called progeria, meaning they did not age normally, even by mouse standards. Normal mice live for about 800 days. Though the mice in the study lived nearly three times as long as they would have, they lived for only 66 days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio