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Fountain of Youth – Secrets to Living Longer new Understandings

June 21st, 2006

Fountain of Youth – Secrets to Living Longer new Understandings

Fountain of Youth
1546 painting by Lucas Cranach

Have you ever wondered why some people live to be 100 years old and still are able to live independently?  Researchers have found some possible clues that may help to understand the differences in our bodies as we age.  Studies that give clues to how to live longer are being presented at the International Congress of Neuroendocrinology in Pittsburgh, PA from June 19-22.

One study showed that increase growth hormone may improve the quality of life in elderly and allow them to remain independent for a longer time.  The study conducted by George R. Merriam, M.D. who is the professor of medicine at the University of Washington / VA Puget Sound Health Care System along with colleagues completed a study of oral medication of growth hormones with elderly participants. 


Growth hormone decreases as we age and many age-related changes such as muscle mass reduction, loss of strength and exercise capacity look similar to symptoms seen in GH deficiency.  The researchers wanted to see if increasing the GH would improve an elderly person’s physical abilities.

The study included 395 men and women that were 65 to 84 years of age.  They all experienced mild restrictions in physical abilities.  The researchers gave either a placebo or various amounts of an oral dose of growth hormone stimulator (GHS) called capromorelin, which is a trial medication being developed by Pfizer Global Research and Development.

The group that had the GHS medication, at any amount, responded by having the GH levels acutely peak and also there was an increase of GH secretion overnight.  The increases were maintained throughout the 12 month treatment time.  The participants that had the GHS treatment improved on muscle mass on average of 1.4 Kg and they also improved on their ability to walk and climb stairs.  Walking improvements were seen at 6 months and the stair climbing improved at 12 months.


Another study by Agnieszka Baranowska-Bik, M.D., and colleagues from the Medical Centre of Postgraduate Education, Warsaw, Poland, studied 133 women ranging in age from 20 up to 102 years old and found that a small protein that comes from fat tissue may be a factor in having a long life. 

In this study, there were 25 of these women that were age 100 to 102 years old.  The researchers found that these centenarian women had higher levels of adiponectin in the blood.  Adiponectin which is a peptide is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.  It helps to keep the blood vessels free of fatty build up also plays a role in the metabolism of lipids and glucose.  If a person does not have enough adiponectin it could contribute to obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and fatty artery plaque buildup.  These groups of conditions are called the metabolic syndrome.

The researchers divided the women by age range and weight into four groups.  There were 25 centenarians, 26 women ages 64 to 67, 45 women between ages 20 to 43, and 37 women that were obese that were ages 26 to 54.


The centenarians group had significantly higher amounts of adiponectin.  They also had much lower levels of leptin and insulin in their blood.  These women also did better when measuring their insulin resistance and their total cholesterol.  These women had fewer signs of hypertension and metabolic syndrome compared to the obese group.  Adiponectin may help in the contribution of a long life but Dr. Barnowska-Bik does not call it the fountain of youth.

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Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication

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