This week on Lifespan News, Brent Nally talks about a new study involving alcohol intake and aging, a twin study that shows that diet and exercise lower biological age, and the effects of sauna use on health and longevity.
In this video, you’ll find out how drinking alcohol, diet and exercise impacts aging; and scientists replaced damaged mitochondria in human cells with healthy mitochondria. You’ll find these stories and more in this episode of Lifespan News.
Welcome to Lifespan News on X10, your source for longevity science updates. I’m your host, Brent Nally. We encourage you to check the description below for links to these stories.
For our first story, heavy alcohol use is linked to greater epigenetic age in women. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health has found that excessive alcohol consumption increases the epigenetic age of non-Hispanic White women as measured by the GrimAge clock. The study used four epigenetic clocks on 2,316 women with a median age of 55.3. GrimAge yielded conclusive results that other clocks did not. Neither recent alcohol consumption nor a history of binge drinking were shown to have any epigenetic effect. However, in the highest quintile of drinkers, an additional 135 alcoholic drinks per year over a lifetime were responsible for an average of four additional months of epigenetic aging according to GrimAge. The highest quintile drank an average of 327 drinks per year, and according to GrimAge this made them approximately 9 months older than the lowest quintile, who only had 7 drinks per year. The only other conclusive results from this study came from the Hannum clock, which reported that current drinkers were physically a year older than their never-drinking counterparts, and additional GrimAge results showing that former drinkers were a year older than their never-drinking counterparts. This study showed conclusive results in only a few areas, and its lack of results in other areas can be taken to support the idea that moderate alcohol use does not significantly affect epigenetic aging. Additionally, while this study controlled for many factors, it is conceivable that the heaviest alcohol drinkers were also engaged in other negative behaviors that had effects on epigenetic age. However, while light and moderate drinking don’t seem to increase epigenetic age, drinkers must keep in mind that other consequences of drinking that are not directly related to aging biology can still put an abrupt halt to their quest for longevity.
For our next story, a twin study shows that diet and exercise can lower biological age. Chinese scientists have performed a study on homozygous twins to determine how lifestyle factors – smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and diet – affect biological age according to two biological age clocks. Though the findings were a mixed bag, there was evidence supporting the benefit of eating lots of fruits and vegetables. The researchers studied 173 pairs of identical twins of both sexes and various age groups. The researchers scored the presence or absence of four lifestyle parameters – smokers vs. non-smokers or former smokers; normal vs. heavy alcohol drinking; high vs. low physical activity levels, and, finally, normal or higher consumption of fruits and vegetables vs. insufficient consumption. The researchers then correlated the combined score of the four parameters with epigenetic age measured by two DNA methylation clocks. One clock, developed by Steve Horvath back in 2013, was the first multi-tissue DNA methylation epigenetic age clock. The second clock, developed by a team led by Li, was originally tested mostly on Chinese subjects, although it demonstrated accuracy in Caucasian subjects as well. The researchers note that Li’s clock is especially well-suited for the Chinese population, from which they drew their subjects. Horvath’s clock did not show a clear correlation with any single factor, but when using Li’s clock there was an inverse correlation between DNAm age and three factors: vegetable and fruit intake, physical activity, and the combined score. Higher intake of vegetables and fruits had the most significant correlation with DNAm age, while physical activity came in a close second. The results were generally similar both across the whole group and for pairs of twins, which shows that lifestyle factors might trump genetics regarding aging. Smoking and drinking were not significantly associated with DNAm age in this study despite a trove of data irrefutably proving the detrimental health effects of abusing both. It’s unclear why this is the case, but it may be that the low air quality in Chinese cities obscured the effect of smoking, or perhaps combining smokers and former smokers into a single group confounded the analysis. So, the main takeaway for us is that this study confirmed some of what we know about how to stay healthy and is a good reminder to eat sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables and exercise.
Lifespan.io’s Editor in Chief Steve Hill recently published an article about saunas, health and longevity. Heat shock proteins are a major source of a sauna’s biological effects. Steve’s article covers what saunas are, how saunas are heated, how long one should use a sauna, what happens when our bodies are exposed to heat stress, how regular sauna use triggers hormesis, health benefits of using a sauna, and much more. Steve’s sauna article reminded us of a YouTuber Siim Land who creates content about healthy life extension. Siim published a popular video in late 2019 about the health benefits of sauna. We have a link to both Steve’s article and Siim’s video in the description below.
Speaking of healthy life extension promotion on YouTube, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the popular YouTuber Tom Bilyeu – who has over 2 million subs – publish an interview with biogerontologist Dr. Aubrey de Grey on June 3rd, 2021. If that wasn’t enough, I got giddy again when I saw another popular YouTuber, Lex Fridman – who has over 1 million subs – publish an interview with Harvard Medical School professor Dr. David Sinclair on June 6th, 2021. The more frequent promotion of legitimate healthy life extension science on million+ sub YouTube channels is one more sign that our movement is gaining popularity.
As we’ve shared on the last couple episodes of Lifespan News, Lifespan.io launched a crowdfunding campaign on May 17th, 2021 to support longevity research by funding a large human trial called the Participatory Evaluation of Aging with Rapamycin for Longevity Study, or PEARL. We’re now hoping to achieve our stretch goal of $125,000 USD and are currently at about $108,000 USD. Funding ends June 17th, 2021. Check the link in the description below to learn more about PEARL and make a donation.
For our final story, Japanese scientists managed to replace damaged mitochondria in human cells with healthy mitochondria. Mitochondria are organelles that supply most of the energy the cell needs to survive. Either because of aging or specific conditions, mitochondria can become damaged, which can lead to diseases. The researchers first tested their procedure in normal human fibroblasts using an enzyme known for its ability to digest mitochondrial DNA. This destroyed most of the existing mitochondria of the treated cells. Then, the researchers injected new mitochondria into the cells. The new mitochondria successfully replaced the destroyed mitochondria. After this proof of concept, the researchers repeated the same procedure in human fibroblasts extracted from a baby affected with Leigh syndrome, which is caused by mitochondrial defects and leads to neurological disorders. Following the procedure, treated cells had more uniform, healthy mitochondrial DNA than the untreated cells. Of the treated cells, 60% were fully healthy after treatment. The researchers did not try to see what the effects of reintroducing the treated cells into a human would be, so it’s too early to tell whether this procedure may be beneficial for humans. Mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the 9 hallmarks of aging, so hopefully one day this or similar procedures may be used to treat aging.
That’s all the news for this episode. Is there a recent life extension story that you think we should have covered but haven’t yet? And what was your favorite story from this episode? Let us know what you think in the comments below. We really appreciate it and we look forward to seeing you in the next episode at least as healthy as you are now.