Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the unmet sleep needs of the elderly elevate their risk of memory loss and a wide range of mental and physical disorders.

In an article published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, the researchers argue that unlike more cosmetic markers of aging, such as wrinkles and gray hair, sleep deterioration has been linked to such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and stroke.

“Nearly every disease killing us in later life has a causal link to lack of sleep,” said the article’s senior author, Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience. “We’ve done a good job of extending life span, but a poor job of extending our health span. We now see sleep, and improving sleep, as a new pathway for helping remedy that.”

Though older people are less likely than younger cohorts to notice and/or report mental fogginess and other symptoms of sleep deprivation, numerous brain studies reveal how poor sleep leaves them cognitively worse off.

Moreover, the shift from deep, consolidated sleep in youth to fitful, dissatisfying sleep can start as early as one’s 30s, paving the way for sleep-related cognitive and physical ailments in middle age.

Walker and fellow researchers cite studies that show the aging brain has trouble generating the kind of slow brain waves that promote deep curative sleep, as well as the neurochemicals that help us switch stably from sleep to wakefulness.

“The parts of the brain deteriorating earliest are the same regions that give us deep sleep,” said article lead author Bryce Mander, a postdoctoral researcher in Walker’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at UC Berkeley.

Aging typically brings on a decline in deep non-rapid eye movement (NREM) or “slow wave sleep”, and the characteristic brain waves associated with it, including both slow waves and faster bursts of brain waves known as “sleep spindles”.

Youthful, healthy slow waves and spindles help transfer memories and information from the hippocampus, which provides the brain’s short-term storage, to the prefrontal cortex, which consolidates the information, acting as the brain’s long-term storage.

“Sadly, both these types of sleep brain waves diminish markedly as we grow old, and we are now discovering that this sleep decline is related to memory decline in later life,” said Joseph Winer, a doctoral student in Walker’s lab.

Another deficiency in later life is the inability to regulate neurochemicals that stabilize our sleep and help us transition from sleep to waking states. These neurochemicals include galanin, which promotes sleep, and orexin, which promotes wakefulness.

“The American College of Physicians has acknowledged that sleeping pills should not be the first-line kneejerk response to sleep problems,” Walker said. “Sleeping pills sedate the brain, rather than help it sleep naturally. We must find better treatments for restoring healthy sleep in older adults, and that is now one of our dedicated research missions.”

Also important is the question of quantity versus quality. “Previously, the conversation has focused on how many hours you need to sleep,” Mander said. “However, you can sleep for a sufficient number of hours, but not obtain the right quality of sleep.”

“Indeed, we need both quantity and quality,” Walker was quoted as saying in a news release.

source: Manila Bulletin

Parents who smoke may contribute to genetic changes in their kids that are associated with the most common type of childhood cancer, a recent study suggests.

Some previous research has linked parental smoking to an increased risk of childhood leukemia, but with less consistent results for mothers than for fathers. The current study is the first to link smoking by both parents to specific genetic changes in tumor cells of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), said lead study author Adam de Smith, a researcher at the University of California San Francisco’s Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Another way of looking at this is that we are seeing evidence of the toxic effects of tobacco smoke in the genes of the leukemia cell, a molecular type of forensic pathology,” de Smith said by email.

“These deletions are not inherited from parents but are acquired in the child’s immune cells, so we think the more important windows of tobacco exposure are during pregnancy and after birth,” he added.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a cancer that starts from the early version of white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow, the soft inner part of the bones where new blood cells are made. With this type of cancer, the bone marrow makes irregular lymphocytes with errors known as deletions in their DNA, causing unchecked growth that crowds out healthy cells.

Each year about 5,970 new cases of ALL are diagnosed in the U.S. and about 1,440 people die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. The risk of developing ALL is highest in children under age 5, though the majority of the deaths occur with adult cases.

For the current study, researchers examined data on pre-treatment tumor samples from 559 ALL patients in a study of childhood leukemia cases in California. They wanted to see if any of the eight genes that are often deleted in ALL patients were missing in the tumor samples, and whether any of these deletions were associated with parental smoking habits.

Roughly two thirds of the tumor samples contained at least one of these deletions, the study in Cancer Research found.

Deletions were considerably more common in children whose mothers had smoked during pregnancy and after birth. For each five cigarettes smoked daily during pregnancy, there was a 22 percent increase in the number of deletions; and for each five cigarettes smoked daily during breastfeeding, there was a 74 percent increase in the number of deletions.

Smoking of five cigarettes daily by the mother or father before conception also was associated with a 7 percent to 8 percent increase in the number of deletions.

Boys were found to be more sensitive to the effects of maternal smoking, including smoking that occurred pre-conception. This could be explained by the fact that male fetuses grow more rapidly, leading to increased vulnerability of developing lymphocytes to toxins that cause genetic damage, the authors note.

One limitation of the study is that researchers don’t know when genetic deletions occurred relative to the development of leukemia. Researchers also relied on parents to accurately recall and report their smoking habits in questionnaires, making it possible the timing or amount of tobacco exposure might be incorrect in some cases.

Still, the findings should reinforce how important it is for parents to quit or cut back tobacco use, said Dr. Marte Reigstad, a researcher at Oslo University Hospital in Norway who wasn’t involved in the study.

“The best thing to do to reduce risk to a minimum is to cut out smoking altogether,” Reigstad, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

For people who grew up with parents that smoked, it’s important to understand that tobacco isn’t the only thing that causes cancer, Reigstad added.

“Living healthy lives can also reduce cancer risk, especially concerning exercise and keeping a healthy body weight,” Reigstad said.

source: Reuters Health


You don’t have to be a vegetarian to be ready to go meatless. Leading meat-free British brand Quorn, with its great texture uniquely similar to meat, is now here in the Philippines.

Whether you want to cook from scratch and go for chunks or grounds, or prefer ready-to-cook options like nuggets, Quorn offers more choices for a healthier meal.

Made mainly from Mycoprotein, a naturally healthy protein produced by a natural fermentation process similar to the way cheese and yogurt are made, Quorn contains high protein and fiber, has 85 percent less fat than lean beef, has 200 calories fewer per meal, and has zero cholesterol and trans fats.

A fungus called Fusarium venenatum is mixed with oxygen, nitrogen, glucose and minerals to produce Mycoprotein. These ingredients are combined in a fermenter similar to those found in a brewery to form a continuous supply of Mycoprotein that is harvested and dried before egg white is added to aid in the binding. (That said, those who have an adverse reaction to fungi should avoid Mycoprotein.)

“It’s a nutritious fungus, a bit like yeast. We simply grow it by feeding it with glucose and oxygen. It’s a very simple, natural process,” said Kevin Brennan, Quorn CEO.


Quorn is non-GMO, made with non-GMO ingredients. Mycoprotein, the key ingredient in Quorn products, is not genetically modified. All other ingredients used are purchased to a specification which requires that they are not genetically modified, he said.

Brennan also said Quorn is better for the planet. It has a smaller carbon footprint, approximately 90 percent less than beef and 75 percent less than chicken, up to 90 percent less land and water is used than different meat options, and is the first global meat-alternative brand to achieve third-party certification of its carbon footprint figures.

“Food is national obsession [here], a favorite pastime that brings people together. You’re always on the market for something new. Quorn is an infinite source of protein and high in fiber that it gives people a choice for a balanced diet,” said British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Anwar Ahmad.

Brennan said the market for meat-free products is the younger, well-informed generation.


“Generally, there’s a trend around people wanting to cut meat around the world. They just won’t eat meat for health reasons or sustainability reasons for the planet. The Philippines has younger, more educated consumers so we’re just in the right spot,” he said.

Quorn partnered with Shakey’s Phils. for their Meatless Pizza, for example, and the orders far exceeded their expectations.

How does it compare to soya?


The main difference between soya and Quorn is the fiber. The fiber and egg, Brennan said, give it its unique texture. He added that high fiber and high protein is a good combination. They’re good for the body and very filling.

“You’re not hungry for a long time,” he said.

Unlike other meat alternatives, Quorn has no strong aftertaste. They are great at absorbing the flavors used in cooking, making them ideal for creating delicious meals.

In Asia, Quorn is also available in Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand. Brennan said they are working to make it available in South Korea and Taiwan.

Soon to be made available locally is the vegan Quorn that uses potato extract instead of eggs as binders.

For overweight people with heart disease, trying and failing to lose weight may be more dangerous than not losing weight at all.

A new retrospective study has concluded that patients whose weight fluctuates the most die twice as quickly or have twice the risk of heart attack or stroke compared to people who maintain a stable body weight.

And their risk of developing diabetes grows by 78 percent.

The findings, which need to be confirmed by further research, suggest a life-and-death conundrum. Being overweight is already known to pose serious health risks. The new research says dropping the pounds and putting them back on again poses additional dangers.

If you are an overweight person with heart disease who lost 20 pounds "you are worse off if you drop your weight and gain it back" than if you didn't lose it in the first place, chief author Dr. Sripal Bangalore, an interventional cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at New York University's Langone Medical Center told Reuters Health by phone.

The study is saying, "If you're going to lose weight, do it right and you need to take it seriously," said Dr. Ira Ockene, a professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, who was not connected with the research.

If people use the results as an excuse not to drop unhealthy pounds, "that would be unfortunate,” Ockene told Reuters Health. “There's a lot of data that says if you lose weight and keep it off, you do better."

"Hopefully this will be used as a motivation to lose weight and maintain weight," Bangalore said.

Such yo-yo dieting, where a person's weight fluctuates repeatedly, is already known to be unhealthy in people without heart disease.

The new study in the New England Journal of Medicine explored whether that was specifically true for people with coronary artery disease, where fatty deposits have built up in the blood vessels feeding the heart muscle. The researchers recycled data from 9,509 volunteers who were part of a Lipitor study published in 2005 and sponsored by Pfizer.

Another important limitation of the study: It did not examine whether patients lost weight because they tried to, or if their weight fluctuated because they were battling illness.

After adjusting for various factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, race, gender, diabetes, cholesterol levels and treatment with Lipitor, the Bangalore team found that people whose weights fluctuated the most were 2.24 times more likely to die from any cause within about five years, 2.17 times more likely to have a heart attack and 2.36 times more likely to be hit with a stroke than people whose weights were the most stable.

For every 3- or 4-pound change in body weight, their risk of heart attack, cardiac arrest, chest pain, death from heart disease or the need for surgery to open a clogged artery rose by 4 percent.

The dangers posed by shifting weight were least pronounced in people who had a normal weight to begin with.

Ockene said people need to put weight loss in perspective.

"Studies show people set unattainable goals. Heavy people say, 'I need to lose 40 pounds' and they set a goal that is largely unattainable. And when they lose 10 pounds they're disappointed. And they say, 'What the hell' and they just gain it back," he said.

"But if you lose 10 pounds and keep it off, your diabetes will be better, your blood pressure will be better, your lipids will be better, a lot of things will be better. You don't need to lose 30 or 40 pounds," he said. "That's an important issue for people to understand."

As a typical example of patients in the study whose weights fluctuated significantly, the researchers cited the case of a 53-year-old man whose weight went from 231 pounds to 244 pounds three months later, then dropped to 211 pounds eighteen months later before going up to 253 pounds after another 18 months had passed.

source: Reuters Health


The process of getting old troubles many. Everyone accepts the fact that nobody lives forever. Still, seeing one’s deterioration can be disturbing.

Can aging be stopped? No. However, medical science is able to slow it down and ease its symptoms.

While we are all too familiar with the signs of aging, here are a few reminders: wrinkles, dry, sagging skin, gray hair, slightly stooping posture, thin, loose muscles, forgetfulness, aching joints, slow metabolism, tiredness and exhaustion.

Aging is inevitable. Studies show that a person’s metabolism starts declining at age 20.

However, we age at different rates and in different ways. No two people age in the same manner. The scientific truth is, we cannot change our genetic makeup, but through lifestyle changes, we can reduce the signs of aging.

Let us begin by answering some urgent questions.

At age 55, how can I get back my muscle tone? My goal is to have good body definition.

Each year, your body goes into gradual decline. But you can train it to be fit and strong again. If you used to go to the gym daily to work out, then go back. Talk to your personal trainer to modify your program for your age, but to challenge you as well with increasing weight resistance.

Muscles need to be challenged through weight training or your own body weight (as in push-ups), and with a little help from a special nutrition plan designed by your trainer. Moderation is key. There will be less carbohydrates and more protein and good fats required.

Try extra supplementation through the consumption of whey protein powder drinks. It contains amino acids like leucine to promote muscle growth, and important nutrients which support the immune function.

Consider vitamin-mineral supplements, vitamin D, omega 3 fats (fish and flaxseed), vitamin C, vitamin E and B complex. Altogether they promote muscle tone and strength.

Skin rescue

Please help me improve my complexion. I am 60 years old and have lost skin tone.

There are many ways to save your complexion—from beauty masks to mild acid peels and laser light treatments. But there are simple approaches that can come to the rescue.

1) Avoid the sun. Over exposure will lead to pigmentation of the skin.

2) Put sunblock of SPF 30 and above.

3) Drink 12-15 glasses of water daily.

4) Increase vitamin C intake to 1,000 mg daily.

5) Have a skin rescue remedy, which has helped countless women who have taken it consistently for 30 days. A 100-percent organic, fine Japan pearl coix extract powder drink is made from an ancient medicinal plant traditionally used in Japan for health management and skin whitening.

While the “pearls” from the plant are hard, new technology has extracted its nutrients and developed a powder version which is easily digested. Taken once daily with your coffee or juice, it can fulfill your skin whitening goals. This is a gentle product with no side effects. The results have been impressive as far as whitening and skin pigmentation problems are concerned. Call 5467297.

At 60, is there a regimen to restore the vitality I once had in my 30s?

If your aim is to be active into your 80s, then there are ways to recapture your feeling of youthfulness.

1) Change your eating lifestyle if it isn’t healthy. Eat less processed food. Add more live green vegetables and fruits to your diet.

2) Practice deep breathing exercises.

3) Take up mind-body exercises like tai chi, qigong, yoga.

4) Get sufficient sleep— eight hours daily is a must, preferably before 10 p.m.

5) Take supplements to augment your daily vitamin mineral requirements, as appropriate for your age. Ask your doctor.

6) Manage your stress levels. No matter how healthy you may be, stress can wreak havoc on your immune system.

7) Get into the habit of fresh vegetable juicing daily. It can energize you as time progresses.