Having A Higher Purpose In Life Reduces Risk Of Death Among Older Adults


Having A Higher Purpose In Life Reduces Risk Of Death Among Older Adults.

Possessing a greater purpose in life is associated with lower mortality rates among older adults according to a new study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center.

Patricia A. Boyle, PhD, and her colleagues from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, studied 1,238 community-dwelling elderly participants from two ongoing research studies, the Rush Memory and Aging Project and the Minority Aging Research Study. None had dementia. Data from baseline evaluations of purpose in life and up to five years of follow-up were used to test the hypothesis that greater purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk of mortality among community-dwelling older persons.

Purpose of Life

Purpose of Life

 

Purpose in life reflects the tendency to derive meaning from life’s experiences and be focused and intentional, according to Boyle.

 

After adjusting for age, sex, education and race, a higher purpose of life was associated with a substantially reduced risk of mortality. Thus, a person with high purpose in life was about half as likely to die over the follow-up period compared to a person with low purpose. The association of purpose in life with mortality did not differ among men and women or whites and blacks, and the finding persisted even after controlling for depressive symptoms, disability, neuroticism, the number of medical conditions and income. During the study period, 151 participants died.

 

“The finding that purpose in life is related to longevity in older persons suggests that aspects of human flourishing—particularly the tendency to derive meaning from life’s experiences and possess a sense of intentionality and goal-directedness—contribute to successful aging,” said Boyle.

Significant associations with mortality were found with three specific items on the purpose of life questionnaire to determine the study participants’ agreement with the following statements: “I sometimes feel as if I’ve done all there is to do in life;” “I used to set goals for myself, but that now seems like a waste of time;” and “My daily activities often seem trivial and unimportant to me.”

“We are excited about these findings because they suggest that positive factors such as having a sense of purpose in life are important contributors to health,” said Boyle.

The researchers note that knowledge of the relationship of purpose of life with other demographic characteristics is limited and future studies are needed to examine whether the association of purpose of life with mortality might be modified by other variables not measured in this study, such as how religious a participant may be. In addition, researchers suggest that future studies should examine whether purpose in life can be enhanced in older persons with interventions.

“Although we think that having a sense of purpose in life is important across the lifespan, measurement of purpose in life in older persons in particular may reveal an enduring sense of meaningfulness and intentionality in life that somehow provides a buffer against negative health outcomes,” said Boyle.

The Rush Memory and Aging Project, which began in 1997, is a longitudinal clinical-pathological study of common chronic conditions of aging. Participants are older persons recruited from about 40 continuous care retirement communities and senior subsidized housing facilities in and around the Chicago Metropolitan area. More than 1,200 older persons are enrolled in the study.

The Minority Aging Research Study began in 2004 and is a study of risk factors for cognitive decline in older Blacks. Participants are recruited from community-based organizations, churches, and senior subsidized housing facilities in and around the Chicago Metropolitan Area. More than 350 older persons are enrolled in the study.

The study is published in Psychosomatic Medicine.

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Oxygen-sensitive enzyme key to ‘cut and paste’ of genes


LONDON: An oxygen-sensitive enzyme has been found to play a key role in how genes create the many different proteins that make up our bodies.The finding shows that the enzyme, termed Jmjd6, directly intervenes in the process in which the DNA of our genes is “cut and pasted” into instructions for the creation of specific proteins.The discovery, reported in this week’s Science by a team led by scientists from Oxford University and Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, opens up a new area of molecular research into conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

“Previous work from Oxford has shown that some of these enzymes, called oxygenases, affect which genes are expressed in response to low levels of oxygen. What we have now found is that they also regulate the specific form this expression takes” to give the different proteins that make up everything from heart cells to tumours,” said Professor Chris Schofield of Oxford University’s Department of Chemistry, one of the authors of the paper.

Genes, stored in the form of DNA, are converted into proteins by a “middleman molecule” called Messenger Ribonucleic Acid ‘mRNA’.

Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Health-Science/Science/Oxygen-sensitive-enzyme-key-to-cut-and-paste-of-genes/articleshow/4736854.cms

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Oral bacteria may contribute to the development of obesity


The world-wide explosion of overweight people has been called an epidemic. The inflammatory nature of obesity is widely recognized. Could it really be an epidemic involving an infectious agent? In this climate of concern over the increasing prevalence of overweight conditions in our society, investigators have focused on the possible role of oral bacteria as a potential direct contributor to obesity.

To investigate this possibility, the study’s researchers J.M. Goodson, D. Groppo, S. Halem and E. Carpino measured salivary bacterial populations of overweight women. Saliva was collected from 313 women with a body mass index between 27 and 32, and bacterial populations were measured by DNA probe analysis. Levels in this group were compared with data from a population of 232 healthy individuals from periodontal disease studies. The median percentage difference of seven of the 40 bacterial species measured was greater than 2 percent in the saliva of overweight women. Classification tree analysis of salivary microbiological composition revealed that 98.4 percent of the overweight women could be identified by the presence of a single bacterial species (Selenomonas noxia) at levels greater than 1.05 percent of the total salivary bacteria. Analysis of these data suggests that the composition of salivary bacteria changes in overweight women.

It seems likely that these bacterial species could serve as biological indicators of a developing overweight condition. Of even greater interest, and the subject of future research, is the possibility that oral bacteria may participate in the pathology that leads to obesity.

The complete research study is published in the June issue of the International and American Associations for Dental Research’s Journal of Dental Research, and is available online at http://jdr.sagepub.com/cgi/content/full/88/6/519.

http://www.iadr.org

Psychic powers that enable people to see auras around others may simply be a quirk of the brain


Supposed psychic powers that enable people to see auras around others may simply be a quirk of the brain, according to a University College London (UCL) study of a rare form of synaesthesia where some people see colourful ‘auras’ around their loved ones.

The case study, reported in the October issue of Cognitive Neuropsychology, shows how some people can experience colours in response to people they know or words that evoke emotions – a condition known as emotion-colour synaesthesia.

Dr Jamie Ward, author of the study, says: “A popular notion is that some people have a magical ability to detect the hidden emotions of others by seeing a colourful ‘aura’ or energy field that they give off. Our study suggests a different interpretation. These colours do not reflect hidden energies being given off by other people, rather they are created entirely in the brain of the beholder.”

In the study, Dr Ward of UCL’s Psychology Department documented a woman known as GW who could see colours like purple and blue in response to people she knew or their names when read to her. Words triggered a colour which spread across her whole field of vision, whilst people themselves appeared to have coloured ‘auras’ projected around them. For example, “James” triggered pink, “Thomas” black and “Hannah” blue.

A similar test using 100 words rated on a scale of 1 to 7 for their emotional impact showed that highly emotive words such as fear or hate also triggered colours. Words associated with positive emotions tended to elicit pink, orange, yellow, and green, whereas words associated with negative emotions triggered brown, grey, and black.

Whilst it is quite common to describe people or emotions metaphorically in terms of colours, GW actually reported vividly seeing them. Indeed, when “James” (a pink word) was written in the wrong colour (e.g. blue), her reaction times were slowed.

Synaesthesia is a condition found in 1 in 2000 people in which stimulation of one sense produces a response in one or more of the other senses. For example, people with synaesthesia may experience shapes with tastes or smells with sounds. It is thought to originate in the brain and some scientists believe it might be caused by a cross-wiring in the brain, for example between centres involved in emotional processing and smell perception. Synaesthesia is known to run in families.

GW, 19-year old with an IQ of 112, became aware of her condition around the age of seven but refrained from telling her family or friends. In GW’s case, people acquired a synaesthetic colour as she got to know them and the colour was then triggered whenever she was presented with the person’s name or face.

In contrast, a case discovered in the 1930s documents a seven year old boy who also associated colours with people, but saw strangers in bright orange with a black outline which faded to a mild blue and finally pink when he got to know them.

Dr Jamie Ward continues: “The ability of some people to see the coloured auras of others has held an important place in folklore and mysticism throughout the ages. Although many people claiming to have such powers could be charlatans, it is also conceivable that others are born with a gift of synaesthesia.

“GW does not believe she has mystical powers and has no interest in the occult, but it is not hard to imagine how, in a different age or culture, such an interpretation could arise.

“Rather than assuming that people give off auras or energy fields that can only be detected by rigged cameras or trained seers, we need only assume that the phenomenon of synaesthesia is taking place.”

Ref:  http://www.ucl.ac.uk

http://www.news-medical.net/news/2004/10/18/5619.aspx

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