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  #31  
Old 09-22-2009, 02:43 PM
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On defeating cancer.

Quote:
THEY might be bald and ugly, but naked mole rats never get cancer. If their trick can be copied it could help humans resist cancer too.
It's almost impossible to culture naked mole rat cells in the lab, which made Andrei Seluanov and Vera Gorbunova from Rochester University, New York, wonder if this might be linked to their ability to resist cancer.
They found that a dilute solution of naked mole rat skin cells did start to proliferate, but stopped once the cells reached a certain, relatively low density. Such "contact inhibition" is also used by human cells to inhibit growth, but cancer bypasses this mechanism so cells keep growing.
The researchers also found that contact inhibition in naked mole rats is controlled by two genes, p16 and p27, while in humans it is primarily controlled by p27. "Naked mole rats have an additional barrier in the way of tumour progression," says Seluanov, who presented the results at the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence meeting in Cambridge, UK, last week.
If this check could be stimulated in humans, it could halt the growth of cancerous tumours.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/...re-cancer.html

I remember reading/hearing somewhere that sharks don't get cancer either.
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  #32  
Old 09-22-2009, 04:32 PM
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On defeating cancer.



http://www.newscientist.com/article/...re-cancer.html

I remember reading/hearing somewhere that sharks don't get cancer either.
....probably in those shark cartilage "supplement" ads.
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  #33  
Old 09-22-2009, 05:46 PM
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Impact of smoking bans:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8267523.stm

Quote:
Smoking bans cut the number of heart attacks in Europe and North America by up to a third, two studies report.

This "heart gain" is far greater than both originally anticipated and the 10% figure recently quoted by England's Department of Health.

The studies appear in two leading journals - Circulation and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
....
Dr James Lightwood, of the University of California at San Francisco, led the Circulation study that pooled together 13 separate analyses.

His team found that heart attack rates across Europe and North America started to drop immediately following implementation of anti-smoking laws, reaching 17% after one year, then continuing to decline over time, with a 36% drop three years after enacting the restrictions.

Dr Lightwood said: "While we obviously won't bring heart attack rates to zero, these findings give us evidence that in the short-to-medium-term, smoking bans will prevent a lot of heart attacks.
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  #34  
Old 09-23-2009, 06:07 AM
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Speaking of smoking, perhaps smoking is partly to blame for the "longevity gaps" for the U.S. vs. Europe?
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/22/sc...tier.html?_r=2

Quote:


Findings
To Explain Longevity Gap, Look Past Health System
...
An Americanís life expectancy at birth is about 78 years, which is lower than in most other affluent countries. Life expectancy is about 80 in the United Kingdom, 81 in Canada and France, and 83 in Japan, according to the World Health Organization.

This longevity gap, Dr. Preston says, is primarily due to the relatively high rates of sickness and death among middle-aged Americans, chiefly from heart disease and cancer. Many of those deaths have been attributed to the health care system, an especially convenient target for those who favor a European alternative.

But there are many more differences between Europe and the United States than just the health care system. Americans are more ethnically diverse. They eat different food. They are fatter. Perhaps most important, they used to be exceptionally heavy smokers. For four decades, until the mid-1980s, per-capita cigarette consumption was higher in the United States (particularly among women) than anywhere else in the developed world. Dr. Preston and other researchers have calculated that if deaths due to smoking were excluded, the United States would rise to the top half of the longevity rankings for developed countries.

As it is, the longevity gap starts at birth and persists through middle age, but then it eventually disappears. If you reach 80 in the United States, your life expectancy is longer than in most other developed countries.
The actual focus of the article was to talk about healthcare, but I was more interested on possible impacts of mortality trends.

I've looked at historical mortality data, as well as smoking incidence data, for the U.S., and one of the things I saw were the differences of at least whether someone was classified as a smoker [not necessarily how much they smoked, though]. It peaked for men sometime in the 40s or 50s, and it peaked for women in the 70s [I'm too lazy to look those up now - I think I got the data from the CDC].

Over the last few decades, mortality improvement for men has been much greater than for women, and I think a lot of this has to do with the historical pattern of smoking, and this particular difference should go away after awhile. The effect of stuff like Lipitor hasn't fully had its effects felt, I think, but the gains from reduced smoking are going to be less in the future as there's not such a high rate to come down from.
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  #35  
Old 09-29-2009, 04:08 PM
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I attended a good sessional meeting at the (UK) Institute of Actuaries yesterday on "What longevity predictors should be allowed for when valuing pension scheme liabilities?" (by Steven Baxter, Ana Madrigal, Fiona Matthews, Deven Patel and Andrew Gaches).

The essence of the paper was that instead of just choosing a mortality table based on:
- age, year of birth (such "two way" mortality tables have been in commonplace use in the UK for the last couple of years or so, as opposed to previous "one way" tables, where the same qx was used for age x no matter whether age x was attained in 2010 or 2011, or 2020 etc, although a different "one way" table was usually selected for future pensioners as opposed to current pensioners), sex and (usually implicitly) another couple of factors such as industry the plan sponsor was in and/or pension amount
- instead, as well as age, year of birth, sex, varying the two way table selected according to the value of a socio-demographic factor (e.g. postcode where the person lives) and also salary at retirement can increase the fit of observed to actual mortality significantly.
Differences in life expectancy at retirement could be as much as ten years given the same age, sex and year of birth but very different postcodes and salaries at retirement. This could translate into financial terms as a difference of 60% in annuity values, so very significant.
Details of the paper (including a link to download it) are currently at
http://www.actuaries.org.uk/media_ce...eeting20090928
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  #36  
Old 09-30-2009, 05:00 AM
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Medical research into longevity improvement techniques
http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/09/nea...increased.html

Quote:
NY Times: “In five or six or seven years,” said Christoph Westphal, Sirtris co-founder [Sirtis was bought by GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million], “there will be drugs that prolong longevity.” [H/T Michael Annisimov, Accelerating Future]

.... [round up of various news items on this type of research]....

So 9-13% improvement in the lifespan of elderly with a procedure that has side effects has been achieved in the lab. The first SENS goal is 300% improvement in the lifespan of elderly mice. There has been 0.1 to 0.2 years of improvement in lifespace enhancement in humans for decades because of the improved treatment of various diseases and general improvements in health. Individuals can choose a healthy lifestyle (exercise, proper diet, do not smoke) and have a good chance to increase their lifespan by ten years over not following a good lifestyle.
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Old 10-01-2009, 11:08 PM
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Default More than half of babies now born "likely to live to 100"

See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8284574.stm.

Excerpt from the article:
Quote:
More than half of babies now born in the UK and other wealthy nations will live to 100 years, researchers say.

The study, published in The Lancet journal, also says the extra years are spent with less serious disability.

Data from more than 30 developed countries shows that since 1950 the probability of surviving past 80 years of age has doubled for both sexes.
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  #38  
Old 10-05-2009, 04:33 AM
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Just came across this in my morning comics:


Maybe I should tell my husband this [he was born in 1961]
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Old 10-05-2009, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by campbell View Post
Just came across this in my morning comics:


Maybe I should tell my husband this [he was born in 1961]
So was Obama.



Oh, wait this isn't political is it? Sorry.
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  #40  
Old 10-06-2009, 05:06 PM
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From the NYT:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/sc...=1&ref=science

Quote:
Deep down, we are all cannibals. Our cells are perpetually devouring themselves, shredding their own complex molecules to pieces and recycling them for new parts. Many of the details of our endless self-destruction have come to light only in the past few years. And to the surprise of many scientists, links are now emerging between this inner cannibalism and diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

“There’s been an explosion,” said Daniel Klionsky of the University of Michigan. “All of a sudden, researchers in different fields are seeing a connection.”

In fact, as Dr. Klionsky wrote in a paper published online in Trends in Cell Biology, this cannibalism may extend our lifespan. Increasing our body’s ability to self-destruct may, paradoxically, let us live longer.
....
The shredded debris that streams out of the lysosomes is not useless waste. A cell uses the material to build new molecules, gradually recreating itself from old parts. “Every three days, you basically have a new heart,” said Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo, a molecular biologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

This self-destruction may seem like a reckless waste of time and energy. Yet it is essential for our survival, and in many different ways. Proteasomes destroy certain proteins quickly, allowing them to survive for only about half an hour. That speed allows cells to keep tight control over the concentrations of the proteins. By tweaking the rate of destruction, it can swiftly raise or lower the number of any kind of protein.

Lysosomes, which eat more slowly than proteasomes, serve different roles that are no less essential. They allow cells to continue to build new molecules even when they are not getting a steady supply of raw ingredients from the food we eat. Lysosomes also devour oily droplets and stores of starch, releasing energy that cells can use to power the construction of new molecules.

“If you don’t have a snack between lunch and dinner,” Dr. Cuervo said, “you’re going to have to activate your lysosomes to get nutrients.”
....
In recent years, scientists have also found evidence of autophagy in preventing a much wider range of diseases. Many disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, are the result of certain kinds of proteins forming clumps. Lysosomes can devour these clumps before they cause damage, slowing the onset of diseases.

Lysosomes may also protect against cancer. As mitochondria get old, they cast off charged molecules that can wreak havoc in a cell and lead to potentially cancerous mutations. By gobbling up defective mitochondria, lysosomes may make cells less likely to damage their DNA. Many scientists suspect it is no coincidence that breast cancer cells are often missing autophagy-related genes. The genes may have been deleted by mistake as a breast cell divided. Unable to clear away defective mitochondria, the cell’s descendants become more vulnerable to mutations.

Unfortunately, as we get older, our cells lose their cannibalistic prowess. The decline of autophagy may be an important factor in the rise of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders that become common in old age. Unable to clear away the cellular garbage, our bodies start to fail.
Huh. I have a lot of biology and biochemistry to learn...
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