Hopeful Health News

About this time of year, when the dewy-eyed hope of our new
year’s resolutions start fading into cynicism, we need a new dose
of hope. As your eagle-eyed health columnist, I can provide. There
is plenty of optimistic news coming our way for improving your
healthspan. Here are a few that have caught my eye.

A toast to Alzheimer’s with a glass of red

italian_red_220.jpgIn what is being hailed as a
“breakthrough study,” the good folks at Mount Sinai School of
Medicine are putting the finishing touches on the stellar
reputation of red wine as a health drink. Add Alzheimer’s
prevention to the long list health benefits. Red wine is rich in
polyphenols, the anti-oxidant compounds that have already been
shown in prior studies to break up the plaque build up in the brain
that is widely seen as the culprit in Alzheimer’s. In the study
presented at the most recent meeting of the Society for
Neuroscience, the wine imbibing mice went on a binge for seven
months and ended up with a reduced concentration of the
beta-amyloid plaque in the brain as compared to the more sober

By the way, cabernet sauvignon was singled out as being
particularly beneficial. At least it wasn’t merlot.

Niacin in training in the fight against

lab-mice.jpgResearch coming out of the Wistar
Institute in Philadelphia has found that a component of niacin
(also known as vitamin B3), shows great promise for slowing down
the aging process. The B3 component can activate an enzyme called
sirtuin which has been shown to extend the lives of different kinds
of organisms. In a prepared statement, senior study author Ronen
Mamorstein said, “Our findings suggest a new avenue for designing
sirtuin-activating drugs. The jury is still out as to whether a
drug of this kind might result in longer life in humans, but I’m
equally excited by the possibility that such interventions might
help counteract age-related health problems like obesity and Type 2

Where there is hope there’s a way. Stay tuned on this one.

Good news for menopausal women seeking

In the upcoming issue of Menopause, a scientific
advisory panel convened by the American Menopause Society will
issue an important new position statement on hormone therapy (HT).
It eases the position on whether women should take hormones to
lessen menopausal symptoms.

Dr. Wulf Utian, director of the Menopause Society, said in a
statement made to Heartwire: “For women with severe
menopausal symptoms, within a few years of their last period,
hormone therapy shouldn’t be as scary as it has been made out to

In the same interview, he pointed out that older women, who are
still experiencing troubling menopausal symptoms, need to consider
whether to resume HT more carefully, as they are “at a higher
absolute risk for cancer and heart disease.” Recommendations are
that women who wish to use HT start out on the lowest possible dose
and only increase gradually until symptoms abate. As to the
problems associated with HT, Dr. Utian noted that both breast
cancer and heart attacks are rare, although the risk for stroke is
slightly higher in older women.

First non-prescription diet pill approved by the

alli_diet.jpgFor all of us whose metabolisms have
slowed to snail’s pace and yet are intent on weighing what we did
in college, this may be at least convenient news. Alli, the first
FDA approved over-the-counter med is coming to town. It is a lower
dose version of Xenical, which works by blocking the absorption of
fat and its attendant calories. Alli is safe and can help dieters
lose up to 16 pounds. You have to be willing to put up with
flatulence and greasy stools. But what price health and beauty,

And finally, a novel way to live longer

Mice who were genetically engineered to have lower body
temperatures lived the equivalent of eight years longer in human
years. How this might be applicable to humans is still being looked
at. For now, I think it might be advisable to find ways to chill

Dr. Michael O.L. Seabaugh is a licensed clinical
psychologist with a psychotherapy practice in Santa Barbara.
Comment at
healthspan@mac.com and visit
his web site/blog at
HealthspanWeb.com for more
information on the topics covered in this column.


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