Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Alcohol, Aging and Cancer

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Senior health-fitness professionals should have a basic understanding of the role telomeres play in the aging process. Telomeres are repeated sequences of DNA that are present at the ends of chromosomes and serve to protect them from damage. With aging, telomeres shorten, rendering them more vulnerable to injury and death. Therefore, telomere length can be viewed as one marker of the rate of biological aging. Telomeres are involved in the maintenance of cells in the immune system. Thus, the shortening of telomeres may indicate an increased risk for disease.

SFA has reported on the topic of telomeres in previous Experience! articles. For important background information, click on Work Out to Stay Biologically Younger: The Science of Telomeres and Lifestyle Factors and Telomerase: Enzyme Study.

Now comes new research, recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), suggesting that excessive alcohol consumption may increase the risk for cancer in older adults due to telomere shortening. Scientists at the University of Milan analyzed the DNA of 59 individuals who abused alcohol (with 22 percent drinking four or more alcoholic beverages a day) and 197 people with variable alcohol consumption habits. The researchers wanted to learn whether or not heavy drinking shortens telomeres. The two groups were similar regarding other variables that might affect telomere length, for example:

  • Age,
  • Diet,
  • Physical exercise levels,
  • Job-related stress, and
  • Environmental exposures.
  • The results showed that telomere length was dramatically shortened in persons who used heavy amounts of alcohol. Indeed, their telomere length was almost half that of non-abusers.

    Lead researcher Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, said, "Heavy alcohol users tend to look haggard, and it is commonly thought heavy drinking leads to premature aging and earlier onset of diseases of aging. In particular, heavy alcohol drinking has been associated with cancer at multiple sites."

    "The decrease we found in telomere length is very sharp," she said, "and we were surprised to find such a strong effect at the cellular level."

    To see the AACR news release on this study, click here.

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    Obesity and Colon Cancer

    Thursday, April 1st, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Although researchers have long agreed that obesity is a risk factor for developing colon cancer, its effects on colon cancer survival are less well-understood. However, a recent study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research sheds new light on the subject.

    The investigation, which was conducted over an eight-year period, involved more than 4,000 patients with colon cancer. While it did not prove a direct cause-and-effect link between obesity and long-term survival, it did suggest a relationship — especially in men.

    Of the normal-weight men who entered the study, 53 percent were still alive after eight years. Of the severely-obese men who entered the study, 42 percent were still alive after eight years. They were 35 percent more likely to die during the study than were men of normal weight.

    Whether and how obesity influences colon cancer prognosis, as well as greater clarity regarding its effects on female colon cancer patients specifically, will require further study. Meanwhile, researchers advise colon cancer patients to aim for a body mass index (BMI, a measure of body weight in relation to height) of under 30.

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