Roundup: ‘Elite’ Immunity May Help You Live to 100; Debunking Myth About Moderate Drinking; and More News

What's the Secret to Living to 100? An 'Elite' Immune System, Researchers Find

In a new, widely publicized study, researchers say they have confirmed that many centenarians -- people who live to the age of 100 -- delay the onset of aging-related disease because they have "elite immunity that remains highly functional at extreme old age."

Obviously, taking care of one's self through healthy eating, regular exercise, weight management and regular check-ups represent lifestyle factors that everyone can control to live a long life. However, researchers from Boston University and Tufts Medical Center found that individuals who live to be 100-years-old or older may also be gifted with a unique composition of immune cells. The study is published in the peer-reviewed journal Lancet eBiomedicine.

Researchers analyzed the immune cells in the blood of seven centenarians to pinpoint immune-specific patterns of normal aging and extreme human longevity. They compared this data with publicly available information on immune cells from people across a range of ages. They found that the immune systems of centenarians were superior to those found in people who live into their 70s and 80s. The current U.S. life expectancy at birth is about 76 years, states the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But researchers conceded that it is not known what precisely is responsible for this immunological ability among centenarians -- genetics or other factors. Senior author Stefano Monti, associate professor of medicine, biostatistics, and bioinformatics at Boston University's school of medicine, told USA Today: "The answer to what makes you live longer is a very complex one. There's multiple factors, there's the genetics – what you inherit from a parent, there's lifestyle, there's luck."

The researchers say their findings create a blueprint for further research. "This study provides a foundation and resource to explore immune resilience mechanisms engaged in exceptional longevity,” the study states.

Major Analysis Debunks Myth That Moderate Drinking is Good for You

A relatively common myth that drinking a glass or two of red wine with dinner is healthier than abstaining from alcohol altogether has persisted for many years.  But a new analysis of more than 100 studies by researchers at the University of Victoria in Canada has found no evidence to support this belief.

The study, published in the Jama Network Open, pooled data from 107 studies involving more than 4.8 million participants. The findings: People who drink moderately, about two drinks per day or less than 25 grams of alcohol, did not have a lower mortality risk, compared to lifetime non-drinkers.

Researchers state that everyone should be skeptical of scientific studies suggesting there are health benefits to moderate drinking.

The study found an increased risk of death among those who drink about 45 or more grams of alcohol per day, which amounts to about three or more drinks. The risks associated with drinking also depend on a person's gender. Women saw higher health risks than men among participants who had two or more drinks per day.

The new analysis is one of the largest studies yet to debunk the myth that moderate drinking of wine or other alcoholic beverages is good for your health. Last year, researchers in the United Kingdom focused on genetic and medical data on about 400,000 people and found that even low alcohol intake was associated with increased risk of disease.

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Excessive alcohol use is also a risk factor for cancers of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.

Cluster Headaches, Migraines Linked to Body’s ‘Internal Clock’ or Circadian System, Researchers Find

Cluster headaches and migraines are both linked to the body's internal clock that is known as the circadian system, according to new research from UTHealth Houston.

Different systems of the body follow circadian rhythms that are synchronized with a "master clock" in the brain. When properly aligned, the circadian system can promote consistent and restorative sleep.

A study led by researchers at UTHealth Houston analyzed all available research on cluster headaches and migraines that included circadian features, such as "information on the timing of headaches during the day and during the year, whether genes associated with the circadian clock are more common in people with these headaches, and hormones linked to both the circadian system and the headaches," states a news release from UTHealth Houston.

Their findings were published online on March 29, 2023 in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Cluster headaches" are rare but cause bursts of intense pain around the eye. Each burst can last about 15 minutes, but an attack can last between one and three hours. The condition is more common in men.  The opposite is true for migraines, a severe headache condition that is three times more prevalent in women. While cluster headaches commonly occur during the night, migraines usually come on during the day, the new meta-analysis found.

A circadian pattern of cluster headache attacks was found in more than 70 percent of study  participants in 16 studies analyzed, with a clear circadian peak between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., and seasonal peaks in spring and autumn. The pattern is highly precise, varying by only minutes day-to-day in many patients, states a news release on the study.

“A better understanding of headache timing might eventually lead to medications that prevent the headaches at those times or manage painful episodes better,” said Seung-Hee Yoo, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UTHealth Houston, and a co-author of the study, in a statement.

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