Sunday, November 19, 2006

Value in a firm handshake?

A strong grip, a good education, a wife, and not becoming overweight are among the keys to a long life for middle-aged men who would like to grow old in good health, a new study shows. Nine factors were good predictors of which middle-aged men would live healthily into their 80s and beyond, concluded a 40-year US study released yesterday of nearly 6000 Japanese-American men living in Hawaii. The factors: not being overweight, low blood pressure, low blood sugar levels, low levels of bad cholesterol, not drinking alcohol excessively, not smoking, having a strong grip, achieving a high level of education, and being married.

Grip strength is a strong indication of upper body strength. It is further proof "that it is important to be physically robust in mid-life . . . consistent with theories of ageing that suggest that better-built organisms last longer," the study, published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association said.

The men in the study averaged 54 years when it began in 1965. Those who met all the healthy criteria had an 80 per cent chance of living to age 80, and also were much more likely to reach old age while avoiding illness. Of the 5820 original study participants, 2451 - or 42 per cent - survived to age 85, and 655 participants (11 per cent), reached that age without suffering serious health problems such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. "Your chances were more than 60 per cent of being healthy at that age if you avoided these risk factors, yet if you had six or more of these risk factors you had less than a 10 per cent chance of living into your mid-80s," study author Dr Bradley Willcox of Pacific Health Research Institute in Honolulu said.

The over-85 age bracket is the fastest growing in industrialised countries, but it also comprises the biggest consumers of health care resources, the study said.


Lamarckian inheritance revived?

I will have to leave it to the genetics experts to comment on this one but Lamarckianism -- the inheritance of acquired characteristics -- has long been regarded as discredited. The idea was of course long supported in Russia by Trofim Lysenko and Joe Stalin. Leftists hate the "straitjacket" of genetic inheritance

New world-first Australian research proves not only that you are what you eat - you also inherit the food sins of your mother and your grandmother. Scientists from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute have found that a pregnant woman's diet affects not only her unborn child's health, but also the health of her children's children. "Our research suggests diet can directly affect the health of future generations. You inherit not only the genes of your parents and grandparents, but the consequences of their lifestyle," scientist Jennifer Cropley said.

The research found that the diet of a pregnant woman can switch certain genes on or off. That genetic state is passed down to the foetus and that child then grows up with the same genetic pattern, which is passed on to their child in turn. Until now scientists believed these "epigenetic" states cleared between generations. "We found that a vitamin supplement switched off the gene in mice and it continued on into their grandchildren," Dr Cropley said. "This shows us that not only does what we eat affect our own health, but also the health of our children and grandchildren."

Fellow investigator Catherine Suter said the findings were significant as they could lead to discovering which of the genes causing conditions like diabetes or obesity are affected by diet. If those genes can then be identified and "switched off", research could potentially lead to wiping out those conditions.

First-time mother Megan Rowe knows first-hand the impact of hereditary health conditions. The 29-year-old has just been diagnosed with arthritis, a condition her mother also suffers from. With her own daughter Olivia, 2, having the same tall and lanky body shape as her mother and grandmother, Ms Rowe said she is not surprised to hear of the dietary impact on generations. She said it showed the importance of pregnant women taking supplements and eating well. "I took a folate supplement as soon as I found out I was pregnant and a multi-vitamin all through pregnancy and while I was breast-feeding," she said.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter? It is just about pure fat. Surely it should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

9). For a summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and no lasting harm from them has ever been shown.


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