Listen to Your Body

Healthy Life Extension

Funding Aging Research

Listen to Your Body

posted on May 8th, 2012

Dear Future Centenarian,

Two weeks ago, I was in a deep funk for about seven days. That™s unusual for me. For some reason, things don™t usually get me down. Oh sure, I get bummed out from time-to-time when things go south, but I usually bounce back quickly. This was different. From morning till night, for a whole week, I was in a general state of malaise.

My body was rebelling, so I took a day off.

That™s unusual for me too. I generally work every day. And more often than not, I enjoy working. What I don™t enjoy are distractions and getting beaten down with minutia.

How often have you been energized, raring to go, until you open your inbox and find fifty emails screaming for your attention, mostly asking you to respond to someone else™s agenda?

If you wouldn™t have peeked at those emails, you™d have been well on your way to a fun and productive day. But something happens to you as soon as you start scrolling through them.

First, you lose the focus and energy you started the day with. Second, you get bogged down for an hour or more in a reactionary mode instead of being proactive”which is what lets you accomplish your goals 95% of the time. (As long as your inbox is open, the emails keep coming too, don™t they?)

Third, it all adds up to stress. Now you™re behind schedule, you™re distracted and tense. And by the end of the day, you™re drained and frustrated, and your most important tasks are undone or sloppily done.

Unless you do something to turn the tide, tomorrow is a repeat performance, and the day after, and the day after that.

How do you solve or avoid this dilemma? Easy.

You refuse to open your email until you finish what™s important to you. That way, you stay in control of your day and your life. But that™s not in the cards, is it buckaroo? Nope. Curiosity gets the better of you, because who knows¦ that one life-changing email may be buried in your inbox. And it usually is. In fact, there are lots of them. But they™re life-changing in the negative ways we discussed.

While you keep your inbox closed, did you ever consider not answering your phone until you do œyour thing?

And when you do get stressed and out of control, what do you do? Let me guess. You bear down harder because of œdeadlines, right?

No. No. No. That™s exactly the wrong thing to do. The best time to de-stress and quickly get yourself on an efficient track is to take a short break when you think you can™t afford to take fifteen minutes off.  Simply empty your brain and meditate, do some deep relaxing breathing or do¦ nothing for those fifteen minutes.

So back to my funk. I shut my computer down Friday night and didn™t turn it on till Sunday morning. Ditto for my phone. I only made a few personal calls. Saturday was an off day where I completely disengaged. I caught up on some reading, caught some rays, got a strong workout and spent four relaxing hours at an oceanfront restaurant with some dear friends whom I hadn™t seen in a year.

The funk? It disappeared immediately. On Sunday, I followed the advice I just gave you, and for the most part, I did the same ever since. I™m energized and got more done that week than I did in the previous month. Then except for two brief phone calls, I took the next Saturday off too. Try it. You™ll like it. 

But how about when something really goes wrong in your life? Illness, injury, divorce, family member crisis, financial disaster, etc? I can™t tell you to simply shrug it off. You may feel your life suddenly came to a screeching halt. That™s only natural.

This advice won™t take the pain away, but it will lessen it and get you back in the game:

First, understand that whatever it is, it probably happened hundreds of millions of times¦ to someone else. And when it does, it has zero to little impact on you unless that someone else is close to you. So realize, it isn™t the event that bothers you, it™s that it happened to YOU this time.

When these things do happen, and they will, forget about feeling like a victim. Instead, try to visualize your challenge as if it™s someone else™s, and then address it as if you were consulting for that someone else. That way, you muster your creative juices and energy to attack and solve or mitigate your situation rather than letting it stress, drain or defeat you.

Stress makes you sick and shortens your life.

More Life,
David Kekich

P.S. If you think the U.S. government should support life extending research, please sign the petition at


More rejuvenation of stem cell function demonstrated in mice: "Researchers have rejuvenated aged hematopoietic stem cells to be functionally younger, offering intriguing clues into how medicine might one day fend off some ailments of old age.

The paper brings new perspective to what has been a life science controversy - countering what used to be broad consensus that the aging of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) was locked in by nature and not reversible by therapeutic intervention. HSCs are stem cells that originate in the bone marrow and generate all of the body's red and white blood cells and platelets. They are an essential support mechanism of blood cells and the immune system. As humans and other species age, HSCs become more numerous but less effective at regenerating blood cells and immune cells.

Researchers in the current study determined a protein that regulates cell signaling - Cdc42 - also controls a molecular process that causes HSCs from mice to age. Pharmacologic inhibition of Cdc42 reversed HSC aging and restored function similar to that of younger stem cells. We know the aging of HSCs reduces in part the response of the immune system response in older people, which contributes to diseases such as anemia, and may be the cause of tissue attrition in certain systems of the body. One reason the research team focused on Cdc42 is that previous studies have reported elevated activity of the protein in various tissue types of older mice - which have a natural life span of around two years.

Also, elevated expression of Cdc42 has been found in immune system white blood cells in older humans. In the current study, researchers found elevated activity of Cdc42 in the HSCs of older mice. They also were able to induce premature aging of HSCs in mice by genetically increasing Cdc42 activity in the cells. To test the rejuvenated cells, the researchers used a process known as serial competitive transplantation. This included extracting HSCs from young (2-4 months) and aged (20-26 months) mice and processing them in laboratory cultures. Young and rejuvenated cells were then engrafted into recipient mice. This allowed scientists to compare how well young and rejuvenated aged HSCs started to repopulate and transform into different types of blood cells. It also confirmed that HSCs rejuvenated by targeting Cdc42 do function similarly to young stem cells."

An example of ongoing work to make targeted cell-killing technologies economically practical: "For more than a decade, researchers have been trying to develop nanoparticles that would deliver drugs more effectively and safely. The idea is that a nanoparticle containing a drug compound could selectively target tumor cells or otherwise diseased cells, and avoid healthy ones.

Antibodies or other molecules can be attached to the nanoparticle and used to precisely identify target cells. [Researchers] devised a method by which the building blocks of the nanoparticle and the drug self-assemble into a final product. Two types of polymer combine to form the tangled mesh of [a] drug-laden spherical nanoparticle. One of these polymers has two chemically and structurally distinct regions, or 'blocks': a water-insoluble block that forms part of the mesh that encapsulates the drug, and a water-soluble block that gives the final product a stealthy corona to evade the immune system.

The other type of polymer has three blocks: the same two as the first, as well as a third region that contains a targeting molecule - the signal that will ensure the final particles attach to the desired cell types. The drug-carrying nanoparticles are formed by simply mixing these polymers together with the drug in the appropriate conditions. The self-assembling polymers can be produced in a repeatable and scalable fashion.

But the method has an additional benefit. The method by which the nanoparticles are built - from individual preparations of the two-block and three-block polymers - would also let researchers use high-throughput screening approaches, akin to how medicinal chemists design and test new drug compounds. Each block could be tweaked - extend one block, change the charge on another - and the relative amounts of each polymer could be varied. With so many parameters for tinkering, [scientists] can screen many combinations."

It has been a number of years since researchers started to investigate the role of DJ-1 in Parkinson's disease. Here, the work has made it to the stage of a possible therapy: "As we age, we naturally lose dopamine-producing neurons. Parkinson's patients experience a rapid loss of these neurons from the onset of the disease, leading to much more drastic deficiencies in dopamine than the average person.

Mutations in the gene known as DJ-1 lead to accelerated loss of dopaminergic neurons and result in the onset of Parkinson's symptoms at a young age. The ability to modify the activity of DJ-1 could change the progress of the disease. [Researchers have] now developed a peptide which mimics DJ-1's normal function, thereby protecting dopamine- producing neurons. What's more, the peptide can be easily delivered by daily injections or absorbed into the skin through an adhesive patch.

Based on a short protein derived from DJ-1 itself, the peptide has been shown to freeze neurodegeneration in its tracks, reducing problems with mobility and leading to greater protection of neurons and higher dopamine levels in the brain. We attached the DJ-1-related peptide to another peptide that would allow it to enter the cells, and be carried to the brain.

In pre-clinical trials, the treatment was tested on mice. From both a behavioral and biochemical standpoint, the mice that received the peptide treatment showed remarkable improvement. Symptoms such as mobility dysfunctions were reduced significantly, and researchers noted the preservation of dopamine-producing neurons and higher dopamine levels in the brain.
Preliminary tests indicate that the peptide is a viable treatment option. Though many peptides have a short life span and degrade quickly, this peptide does not."

Moderate exercise improves life expectancy: "Undertaking regular jogging increases the life expectancy of men by 6.2 years and women by 5.6 years, reveals the latest data from the Copenhagen City Heart study.

The study's most recent analysis (unpublished) shows that between one and two-and-a-half hours of jogging per week at a 'slow or average' pace delivers optimum benefits for longevity. The study, which started 1976, is a prospective cardiovascular population study of around 20,000 men and women aged between 20 to 93 years. The study, which made use of the Copenhagen Population Register, set out to increase knowledge about prevention of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Since then the study, which has resulted in publication of over 750 papers, has expanded to include other diseases.

The investigators have explored the associations for longevity with different forms of exercise and other factors. For the jogging sub study, the mortality of 1,116 male joggers and 762 female joggers was compared to the non joggers in the main study population. All participants were asked to answer questions about the amount of time they spent jogging each week, and to rate their own perceptions of pace (defined as slow, average, and fast).

The first data was collected between 1976 to 1978, the second from 1981 to 1983, the third from 1991 to 1994, and the fourth from 2001 to 2003. For the analysis participants from all the different data collections were followed using a unique personal identification number in the Danish Central Person Register. These numbers have been key to the success of the study since they've allowed us to trace participants wherever they go. Results show that in the follow-up period involving a maximum of 35 years, [risk] of death was reduced by 44%."

An interview with a researcher in the field: "the reality is that our brains age throughout life and, in fact, the science tells us that at age 45 we can measure cognitive and memory decline in the average person. There's a steady gradual decline that continues. Age is the greatest risk factor. By age 65 or older, your risk is about 10 per cent for Alzheimer's dementia. By 85, it's 40 per cent or more.

The implications are that we have a lot more people who have dementia and a lot more people concerned about developing it. ... The studies of successful aging tell us that, when it comes to cognitive success or avoiding dementia or developing it, for the average person only a third of what determines that cognitive outcome results from genetics, from what we inherit. Rarely there are families, less than 2 per cent of cases, with very strong genetic components; they have mutations that cause the disease very early in life. For the vast majority, the genetics are not as strong. They are a factor.

About 20 per cent of the population has this risk. It increases the likelihood of getting the disease and the likelihood of getting it at an earlier age but it's not 100 per cent. That means that two-thirds of the formula comes from non-genetic factors: the lifestyle choices we make every day have a major impact on how well our brains age. Physical exercise, mental exercise, nutrition, stress management and other behaviors, like avoiding head trauma, not smoking and so forth. Exercise seems obvious [but] it may not be completely obvious for people. They know there is a connection between exercise and physical health, exercise and avoiding heart disease. But not everybody is aware of the strong connection between physical exercise and brain health."

Researchers are trying to create new lymph nodes in the body, but tailored to specific needs: "Designer lymph nodes are built with specialized gene-modified cells that are injected into patients and produce a pre-planned immunologic response for cancer patients locally and then throughout their bodies.

The researchers are examining a cancer vaccine 'boosting' effect of the manufactured lymph nodes in patients with advanced melanoma. Patients with cancer have a dysfunctional immune system either because of the tumor's presence in the body or as a side effect of drugs or radiation used to treat the tumor. The designer lymph nodes, aimed at rebuilding their immune systems, may overcome this dysfunction. The researchers are using antigen-presenting cells made from the patient's blood, which are then genetically manipulated to express certain genes before injection into patients.

They can inject gene-modified cells at multiple, independent sites throughout the body to create independent lymph nodes that work together. In the trial, the researchers have found early formation of lymph nodes at the vaccine injection sites and are subsequently testing the nature and anti-tumor function of them. [The team] anticipate partnering with [other institutions] to create designer lymph nodes for diseases other than cancer and expand their designer gene immunity boosting research into fighting infectious diseases and even improving the function of immune systems in the elderly."

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