Some Folks Do Age Slower Than Others

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

People really do vary in how fast they age, and the divergence starts in young adulthood, a new study suggests.

The researchers found that by the tender age of 45, people with a faster pace of “biological aging” were more likely to feel, function and look far older than they actually were. And that relative sprint toward old age began in their 20s.

The findings, the study authors said, suggest we need to take a different view of aging.

“Aging is a lifelong process. It doesn’t suddenly begin at the age of 60,” said lead investigator Maxwell Elliott, a doctoral student at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Anyone who has ever known a spry, sharp-as-a-tack 80-year-old — or a 50-year-old burdened with health problems and disabilities — knows that chronological age does not tell the whole story.

The concept of biological aging — or the speed at which body systems decline over time — acknowledges that.

But it’s not clear exactly when people begin to diverge in their rate of biological aging, Elliott said.

The new findings suggest that split happens fairly early in life.

For the study, Elliott and his colleagues used data on more than 1,000 New Zealanders who have been followed since birth, in the 1970s, to age 45. The pace of their biological aging was tracked starting at age 26, based on measures like body fat, heart fitness, lung capacity, markers of inflammation in the blood, and even cavities.

It turned out that, indeed, people varied widely in biological aging: The slowest ager gained only 0.4 “biological years” for each chronological year in age; in contrast, the fastest-aging participant gained nearly 2.5 biological years for every chronological year.

And by age 45, rapid biological agers were already showing some health indicators normally associated with old age. Compared with their peers, they moved more slowly, had weaker grip strength, and more problems with balance, vision and hearing.

Differences in mental sharpness were clear, too, the researchers found.

On average, rapid agers scored lower on tests of memory performance, and they generally reported more forgetfulness in daily life. Meanwhile, MRI scans showed they typically had more signs of brain-tissue thinning.

The findings were published online in the journal Nature Aging.

Elliott said he was surprised by the extent of the aging differences at the relatively young age of 45.

And, he said, they were significant enough for people to notice them in daily life. Rapid agers typically said they felt older than they were, for example, and doubted they would live to see the age of 75.

If that weren’t enough, they also looked older than their age, based on independent raters who viewed study participants’ facial images.

Dr. Sofiya Milman is director of human longevity studies at Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Institute for Aging Research, in New York City.

Like Elliott, she noted that aging does not “magically start at age 60.”

“Aging is a continuum,” said Milman, who reviewed the findings. “And it probably starts even earlier than we’ve recognized.”

As for what determines a person’s rate of biological aging, Milman said genes play a role. There are certain “longevity genes” that can help shield people from environmental stressors, to a degree.

But aging is not set in stone. Both Milman and Elliott said environment matters, from lifestyle choices to exposures to chronic stress and poverty.

It’s clear that regular exercise, a healthy diet and not smoking can reduce the risks of various diseases. And those are things people can do now, Milman said.

In the future, though, she said researchers also want to translate what they’re learning about the aging process into medications that can be given to the right people at the right time.

For some people, Milman said, a healthy lifestyle, on its own, is not enough.

Both researchers stressed that people who feel “old” in their 40s need not despair: It’s never too late to get a check-up, rein in your blood pressure, or start exercising and eating better.

“Midlife is a great time to address these things,” Elliott said. “We can’t change the past, but there’s still a lot of time to intervene.”

The broader point, he said, is that “we need to stop putting so much emphasis on chronological age.”

Intervening earlier to address rapid biological aging could save lives, and improve quality of life, Elliott said.

Source: HealthDay

In Pictures: Food of The Chairman 大班樓 in Central, Hong Kong

Cantonese Cuisine

The Michelin 1-star Restaurant

Beta-blockers Not Likely to Cause Depression Yet May Contribute to Sleep Disturbances

Beta-blockers treat various cardiovascular diseases and were not more likely to cause depression compared to other similar treatments, according to new research published today in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal. While depression may occur during beta-blocker therapy, the research suggests beta-blockers are not the likely cause.

Beta-blockers are a class of medications that reduce the heart rate, the heart’s workload and the heart’s output of blood, which, together, lower blood pressure. They are a common treatment for cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure, arrhythmias, chest pains and high blood pressure. Researchers have suspected beta-blockers of having negative psychological side effects, including depression, anxiety, drowsiness, insomnia, hallucinations and nightmares.

“The possible mental health side effects of beta-blockers have been the subject of discussion in the scientific community for many decades,” says Reinhold Kreutz, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at the Berlin Institute of Health, Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology and the study’s supervising and corresponding author. “So, our results showing beta-blockers are not the cause of so many of these negative side effects are quite consequential.”

The study is the first of its kind to examine the entire spectrum of mental health side effects in relation to beta-blockers. The researchers analyzed data for more than 50,000 individuals from 258 studies including beta-blockers in double-blind, randomized controlled trials. Nearly 70% of the studies were clinical trials focused on high blood pressure treatment, and 31 assessed depression in placebo-controlled trials.

Results from the comprehensive analysis revealed:

  • Despite being the most frequently reported mental health side effect, depression did not occur more frequently during beta-blocker treatment compared to placebo treatment.
  • The rate of discontinuing medication use due to depression was not any different for those taking beta-blockers compared to those on other treatments.
  • Unusual dreams, insomnia and sleep disorders may be linked to beta-blockers.
  • Among the mental health events analyzed, the most common reason for discontinuing beta-blockers was fatigue/tiredness.

“Our results indicate that concerns about adverse mental health events, especially depression, should not affect the decision about beta blockers. Beta-blockers are mostly safe regarding psychological health,” said Kreutz. “We found no indication of an association between beta-blocker use and depression. The same was true for most of the other mental health symptoms, as reported in the studies that were included in our analyses. However, sleep-related symptoms such as unusual dreams or insomnia did emerge during beta‑blocker therapy for some patients.”

Kreutz added, “Patients with a history of cardiovascular events such as a heart attack or stroke were prone to develop psychological complications. Though we found beta-blockers were not causally linked, these patients should be monitored.”

The original studies did not include individual patient data, so for this analysis, researchers were unable to investigate whether sleep-related symptoms were persistent for those taking beta-blockers. Additional research is needed to address this question.

The researchers report there an important limitation to consider when interpreting the results of their analysis: most beta-blocker trials were conducted more than 20 years ago, before a uniform language to describe adverse events was established. Additionally, the authors only considered randomized, double-blind trials for their analysis, which left out some studies that might provide more data on long-term beta-blocker treatment.

Source: American Heart Association

Three Shrimp-stuffed Delicacies


1 bitter melon
4 red peppers
4 tomatoes
300 g shelled fresh shrimp
40 g pork fat
2 tablespoons cornstarch


1 egg white
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil


1 tablespoon tomato juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
4-5 tablespoons chicken stock
1 teaspoon sugar
2-3 tablespoons peanut oil


  1. Cut the bitter melon into 1 cm thick round pieces. Remove the seeds.
  2. Cut the red pepper in half and remove the seeds.
  3. Cut tomatoes in half and remove the pulp.
  4. Mash the shrimps into paste. Stir the paste rigorously until it becomes sticky.
  5. Dice the pork.
  6. Mix diced pork with shrimp paste thoroughly. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  7. When ready to cook, add seasoning ingredients to the pork and shrimp mixture and mix well.
  8. Coat the inside of the bitter melon , red dill and tomatoes with cornstarch and stuff them with the mixture.
  9. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  10. Heat a pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the bitter melon, red pepper and tomatoes until they are almost done. Add sauce and cook, covered for 2 minutes. Remove and serve hot.

Source: Cooking with Hong Kong Top Chefs

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