We’re inundated daily with information on how to fend off the hands of time. Not to mention, the eyes, body and skin of time, too… Ads extol the virtues of the latest eye cream. Magazines trumpet the next super-food that will “extend” our lives. But below the hype, is there any science to back up the anti-aging claims? To find out, I sorted through some of the latest health news in search of new anti-aging studies backed up by solid science. While it usually takes more than one study to prove something indisputably, I’ve listed four of the most intriguing findings below:
1. Moderate coffee consumption protects aging brains.
Now there’s more reason to love your daily cup of joe. A study of more than 1,400 Italian seniors by the University of Bari Aldo Maro found that people who consistently drink one or two cups of coffee daily had lower rates of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than those who avoided java. MCI refers to issues with memory and thinking that can be precursors to dementia. The study was published in the July 28th issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
But there’s an important caveat. While those who avoided coffee had higher rates of MCI than moderate drinkers, so, too, did those who increased their intake of the brew by a cup or more a day.
For brain benefits, if you’re a regular coffee drinker, limit your java jolt to one to two cups a day.
2. More is more when it comes to exercise for fat loss as we age.
Who doesn’t love the idea of doing minimal exercise to achieve maximum health benefits? But, according to a recent Canadian study, the less-is-more approach to exercise doesn’t work for fat loss.
The study, led by Christine M. Friedenreich, a cancer researcher at the University of Calgary, discovered that when a group of post-menopausal women did aerobic exercise five hours a week, they had significantly increased reductions in BMI, total body fat and belly fat compared to those who exercised half that amount. The results were reported in the July 16th online edition of JAMA Oncology.
Increasing your workouts to one hour a day, five days a week, from the minimal recommendation of 30 minutes, five days a week, may be worthwhile if fat loss is a goal. In addition to helping you get into your skinny jeans, shedding excess body fat decreases risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. But before starting a workout regimen, check with your physician if it’s safe for you to do so. And, remember, with increased activity comes heightened risk of physical strain and injury.
3. Botox may benefit skin more than originally thought.
Beyond the “freeze effect” on facial muscles, injections of onabotulinum toxin A may rejuvenate skin. In a study, published in the May 21st edition of JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, Botox treatment was found to also promote production of elastin and collagen. This pair of proteins helps skin stay tight and firm. The study was led by Dr. James P. Bonaparte, a plastic surgeon and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa.
In addition, the firming effect, while temporary, was found not to be a by-product of swelling or muscle contraction caused by the Botox shots themselves.
Not everybody wants to have the bacterial toxin that causes botulism injected into their face. But, for those open to the treatment, this study shows Botox goes beyond a superficial freezing effect to actually help skin regain elasticity and firmness. (While the effect lasts about four months, or about as long as the other benefits of Botox, other studies indicate regular use may allow people to go longer between treatments). If you decide to try it, do your research to find a physician with extensive experience administering Botox. When interviewing a prospective doctor, ask to see “before and after” photos to review what results they achieve. (If the faces look more frozen than freshened, get out of there.) For more guidelines on finding a doctor, see here.
4. We all need to stand up for women’s health.
Studies about the ill effects of sitting seem to come out now as often as news of Hollywood breakups. But one published on June 30 in the online journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention had warnings specific to women.
In it, researchers from the American Cancer Society found that women who spend six hours or more of their daily leisure time sitting have a 10 per cent greater cancer risk than those who spend less than three hours of their downtime sitting each day. Additionally, these women were more likely to develop specific cancers: multiple myeloma (65 per cent greater risk), ovarian cancer (43 per cent greater risk) and invasive breast cancer (10 per cent greater risk).
More evidence that a sedentary lifestyle is dangerous, even as we get older. But who wants to spend their whole day standing up? Luckily, nobody’s suggesting we chuck our chairs and sofas. Instead, start by looking at how much you sit each day. Can you reduce it? If so, start with small changes, such as changing a lunch meeting to a walking one, or switching out a task you usually do sitting to one standing up.
While these new anti-aging studies are intriguing, I think their main benefit is getting us to think about our health. And although some aspects of our wellness are out of our control, most studies indicate how much our lifestyle choices can greatly impact it. For better or worse.