Friday, July 01, 2011

"Elixir of life" discovered on Easter Island

A very speculative extrapolation from people with a rare disease. Interesting that it is already used as an anti-rejection drug. No reports of the people receiving it in that connection suddenly bouncing around like Fred Astaire!

A drug has been discovered which scientists believe can reverse the effects of premature ageing and could extend human life by more than a decade.

Rapamycin, which has been nicknamed the “forever young” drug, was created from a chemical found in the soil on Easter Island, one of the most remote places on Earth and 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile.

It was used in experiments on children suffering from Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS), a rare genetic condition in which ageing is hyper-accelerated and sufferers die of “old age” at around 12 years.

HGPS causes a dangerous process whereby a protein called progerin builds up in every cell of the body, causing them to age prematurely. Rapamycin cleaned the cells of progerin, which swept away the defects and left healthy cells.

Researchers in the United States, who include Francis Collins, a pioneering genetic scientist and collaborators from Harvard Medical School, are expected to start looking at whether the drug could be used more widely, after similarities between HGPS and the normal ageing process were uncovered.

Rapamycin is already used to suppress the immune system in organ transplants.

Dimitri Krainc, one of the study's co-authors, said: “Even a small activation of this 'debris removal' system would extend the health and life-span of our cells and organs.”

The work was reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.


Sweets (candies) are 'good for children and may stop them from getting fat in later life'

This would appear to be support for the view that the war on obesity is one of the causes of obesity. Kids who are NOT told that sweet things are wicked are less likely to see such things as exciting and are more measured in their consumption of such things.

A social class explanation of the finding seems unlikely unless we assume that middle class people give their kids more sweets -- something that is usually attributed to working classs people

It is an astounding claim that flies in the face of decades of nutritional wisdom. Eating sweets might actually stop your child from getting fat, researchers say. According to their study, youngsters who regularly eat chocolate bars and other treats are significantly less likely to be overweight or obese than those who do not. The effect apparently extends to adolescence, when those who eat sweets are even more likely to be thinner.

The findings appear to contradict the vast bulk of research which indicates that sweets are not only bad for your teeth but bad for your body too. It could also make the job of parents who try to steer their children away from sugary treats even more difficult.

Researchers at Louisiana State University in the U.S. monitored more than 11,000 children and young people between the ages of two and 18 from 1999 to 2004. The data showed that children who ate sweets were 22 per cent less likely to be overweight or obese than those who did not. Among adolescents, even more – 26 per cent – were likely to weigh less than their counterparts who did not eat sweets.

Across all ages there were also lower levels of C-reactive protein in sweet-eating children. High levels of the protein are thought to raise the risk of heart problems and other chronic illnesses.

Explaining the survey results, the researchers said that children who were fed the right portions of sweets from an early age learned the vital skill of ‘food discipline’.

They also said those who ate treats just on special occasions were more aware of their eating habits and able to ‘successfully navigate the calories in, calories out balance’.

Dr Carol O’Neil, lead researcher, added: ‘The study illustrates that children and adolescents who consume candy are less likely to be overweight or obese. However, the results of this study should not be construed as a hall-pass to overindulge. ‘Candy should not replace nutrient-dense foods in the diet. It is a special treat and should be enjoyed in moderation.’

Britain is said to be on the brink of an obesity epidemic with nearly one in ten six-year-olds and 15 per cent of 15-year-olds in England classified as obese, Department of Health figures reveal.

Recently experts at the American Association of Pediatrics warned that Western countries have created a ‘perfect storm’ for childhood obesity as a result of advertising pressure and inactive lifestyles.

Southampton-based dietitian Priya Tew said that children who were given treats by their parents learned lessons that stood them in good stead later in life. ‘It could be that children get used to treats but learn to have smaller portions and not have them every day,’ she said, adding: ‘I’d be interested to see how much exercise the children in the study carried out because it might be that the children who eat the most sweets run around the most.’

The study results were reported in the journal Food and Nutrition Research.


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