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February 29, 2008


I got a few emails about this thing at my high school tonight but b/c of possible snow it's been canceled for tonight. I will let you know when we're doing it!

February 27, 2008


I am going to be at my old high school Friday night for a Room 335 screening/fundraiser for Hen Hud Film Festival--if anyone lives near Westchester you're welcome to come.

I just looked through all of the comments this blog has received over the past couple of weeks. It's incredible how many hits this site gets and how many people, from around the world, comment on this blog. Thank you!

Check this out:


Only about a fourth of the variations that determine how long we live can be blamed on genetics. The other 75 percent appear to be associated with risk factors we can control. More on this:

And we'll go back to the 4 locations where people live the longest a little later on today...

February 25, 2008

Go to Hunza!

Hunza is an extremely fertile valley in northern Pakistan. It's been around for two thousand years in almost complete isolation from the rest of the world. In fact, it's nearly impossible to enter or leave. Just like the previous location in Russia, Hunza is one of the 'oldest' towns in the world. The people in this terrain typicaly live much longer than people in the rest of the world.

Food makes a big difference which makes sense since they're in the middle of nowhere. The people grow fruit, peaches, pears, etc. Most important are the apricots. They have more than 20 varities.

What is the Hunzans' secret? Author John Robbins attributes their courage and creativity. They have very little fuel so they eat a lot of their food raw. Refrigeration doesn't exist so they harvest their food just before eating. And since they don't have machines and modern labor-saving devices the world has, they are incredibly active while at work.

Anyway, I read this last week and finally got a chance to post. I'll take about the other two in great length this week. See ya!

February 20, 2008

Move to Southern Russia

I had dinner last night and learned some really interesting things.

Apparently in the early 1970’s a world-renowned physician Alexander Leaf wrote an article about the world’s healthiest and most long-living people. What he discovered is really interesting.

‘Certainly no area in the world,” Leaf wrote, ‘has the reputation for long-lived people to match that of the Caucasus in southern Russia.’ That’s right! Southern Russia. Said one author John Robbins, ‘where people are healthier at ninety than most are at middle age.’! Now why is my first question: there is obviously nothing that one can specifically point to. Some of it seems to be a simple science: because of the high altitude and the tough terrain many walk on a regular basis, thus they have an enhanced amount of oxygen reaching their hearts. The doctor also noted that there is no ‘retirement age’. In fact, you work until you physically are unable to do so! However their ‘work’ is vastly different thatn our approach: in Abkhasian work does not include deadlines and there is no sense of rush. Obviously that’s hard to conceive where we come from (especially here in NYC). This author wrote, ‘In Abkhasian people are esteemed and seen as beautiful in their old age. Silver hair and wrinkles are viewed as signs of wisdom, maturity, and long years of service. In Abkhasian it would be considered an insult to be told that you are looking young. People there compliment each other by saying ‘You are looking old today, meaning that the person is wise and beautiful in their maturity.’

Wow! There are 3 other places that I will talk about this week.

February 12, 2008

Older Population to More than Double!


Women live longer than Men?

If one does not consider the many women who die while giving birth or in pregnancy, the female human life expectancy is considerably higher than those of men, who, on average, consume more tobacco, alcohol and drugs than females. In most countries many more men than women commit suicide. In general, men are more aggressive than women and thus are more likely to be murdered. In wars, many men die in combat as soldiers. Men tend to take more risks than females when they drive cars or motorcycles.

However, some argue that shorter male life expectancy is merely another manifestation of the general rule, in all mammal species, that larger individuals tend on average to have shorter lives.If small body size is a result of poor nutrition and not of genetics, then the rule is the other way round: better nourished people are taller and live longer.

Small dog breeds like poodles and dachshunds can reach 15 years of age, while the big breeds like German shepherds seldom reach 10 years of age.

Growth hormones and male sex hormones (anabolics) like testosterone as well as the most important anabolic hormone , insulin (see: caloric restriction), that is released after eating , shorten the lifespan, possibly by upregulating metabolism and thus causing more oxidative stress. Eunuchs have a higher life expectany than men with testicles, yet they tend to be obese, which shortens their life.

In their menstuation cycle females regularly lose some blood, which rids them of toxic heavy metals and of iron, which causes oxidative stress. Human females have two X-Chromosomes while males have only one, thus males are more prone for X-linked hereditary diseases than females.

Another study:

Only about a fourth of the variations that determine how long we live can be blamed on genetics. The other 75 percent appear to be associated with risk factors we can control. For example, a new study says lifestyle choices by men in the early elderly years – including weight control, regular exercise and not smoking – go a long way in determining those that will live to reach age 90.

Study included people up to 65 but probably works for senior citizens, too

June 28, 2007 – It is probably easier than most people think to lower the risk of heart problems and add years to their lives. A new study finds that just four simple healthy behaviors can do the trick and it works even if one starts late in life. Although this study only included people from age 45 through 64, there seems to be no reason not to assume it would also work for senior citizens. Read more...

Twice during the first year and then once each following year through 2006, they completed a questionnaire asking about changes in habits, health status or ability to do daily tasks.

A total of 970 men (41 percent) lived to age 90 or older. Several modifiable biological and behavioral factors were associated with survival to this exceptional age.

“Smoking, diabetes, obesity and hypertension significantly reduced the likelihood of a 90-year life span, while regular vigorous exercise substantially improved it,” the authors write.

“Furthermore, men with a life span of 90 or more years also had better physical function, mental well-being, and self-perceived health in late life compared with men who died at a younger age.

“Adverse factors associated with reduced longevity—smoking, obesity and sedentary lifestyle—also were significantly associated with poorer functional status in elderly years.”

The researchers estimate that a 70-year-old man who did not smoke and had normal blood pressure and weight, no diabetes and exercised two to four times per week had a 54 percent probability of living to age 90.

Older Americans are in reasonably good health overall, but there are striking differences by age and by race and ethnicity. Almost half of HRS participants ages 55 to 64, but only about one quarter of those age 65 and older, say they are in very good or excellent health. White respondents report very good or excellent health at a rate almost double that of Blacks and Hispanics. Click to story....

However, if he had adverse factors, his probability of living to age 90 was reduced to the following amount:

● Sedentary lifestyle, 44 percent
● Hypertension (high blood pressure), 36 percent
● Obesity, 26 percent
● Smoking, 22 percent
● Three factors, such as sedentary lifestyle, obesity and diabetes, 14 percent
● Five factors, 4 percent

“Although the impact of certain midlife mortality [death] risks in elderly years is controversial, our study suggests that many remain important, at least among men,” the authors conclude. “Thus, our results suggest that healthy lifestyle and risk management should be continued in elderly years to reduce mortality and disability.”

February 09, 2008

Putnam Arts

I just got back from Putnam County where they held a screening for their arts program. It was great to meet up with everyone and screen the film at a HUGE FARM (that was a new but great setting)! It was beautiful and during the screening (I've seen the movie a few times) I drove around and met some pretty funny people working at the local Applebees. They had seen the movie on Cinemax so we talked for a bit and then I headed back to speak after the screening. A lot of people in my hometown should remember my high school is doing a screening (at Hendrick Hudson in Westchester, NY) on the 29th.

Ejoy your Saturday night.

February 07, 2008

Host A Party


Blackberry or something like it

Today’s younger generation may reckon that “ne’er the twain shall meet” where technology and their elders are concerned. However, ongoing research by Abby King, PhD, professor of health research and policy and of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, appears to be gradually dispelling that notion.

In a study that appears in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, King showed that specially programmed PDAs, or personal digital assistants, can prod middle-aged and older Americans - the most sedentary segment of the U.S. population - into increasing their physical activity levels.

This first-generation study follows on the heels of King’s research report in the December issue of Health Psychology, in which she showed that automated computer calls were almost as effective as live health educators in coaxing people previously less active to get more of a spring in their step.

King and colleagues feel that developing approaches to help people increase their exercise frequency, while taking into account an individual’s schedule and environment, is particularly important.

“Portable computer devices are useful because they can be carried around throughout a person’s day,” King said. “Such devices represent one kind of strategy for being able to provide individuals with the help and support they need, in a convenient, real-time context.”

The researchers invited the public to participate in this new study through local mass-media outlets, like the Palo Alto Daily News and the San Jose Mercury News. Out of 69 callers who were screened for eligibility, 37 were invited to be study participants and randomly assigned to an eight-week program in which they either received a Dell Axim X5 PDA, or traditional handouts related to physical activity.

“Then we let ’em roll,” King said.

The Dell Axim X5, chosen for its large-sized, easy-to-read screen and good contrast, was fitted with a program that asked participants approximately three minutes’ worth of questions.
● Among the questions:
● Where are you now?
● Who are you with?
● What barriers did you face in doing your physical activity routine?

The device automatically beeped once in the afternoon and once in the evening; if participants ignored it the first time, it beeped three additional times at 30-minute intervals. During the second (evening) session, the device also asked participants about their goals for the next day.

With this program, participants could set goals, track their physical activity progress twice a day and get feedback on how well they were meeting their goals. After eight weeks, the researchers found that while participants assigned to the PDA group devoted approximately five hours each week to exercise, those in the control group spent only about two hours on physical activities—in other words, the PDA users were more than twice as active.

One surprise was the participants’ positive response to the program’s persistence. The PDA users liked the three additional “reminder” beeps that went off if they failed to respond to the first one. In fact, almost half of them wound up responding to the PDA only after being beeped for the fourth time.

“The PDAs can really keep on you,” King observed with wry humor. “We were surprised by that; we thought by the time they heard the fourth beep, they might find it annoying and not respond at all.”

The study targeted people interested in health changes, but with little if any knowledge of portable computer devices. During the eligibility screening, 93 percent said they had never used a PDA before. So there could have been difficulties in grasping the technology, or participants refusing to deal with it and giving up entirely. This, however, did not turn out to be a problem.

“They were very curious about PDAs, and that’s why some of them signed up,” King said. Several participants, she added, were aware of PDAs because their children were using the device, and so they wanted to learn more about the technology.

King and colleagues are also working with researchers from MIT, Northeastern University, Brown University and Boston Medical Center to evaluate the ability of other types of computer-based, automated and interactive devices to help people change their health behavior.

So what’s next, after PDAs?

“Cell phones, for sure,” King said. “Especially now that we have the iPhone; its big screen would be very useful for providing visual feedback.” She and her colleagues are also continuing to focus on developing portable devices capable of interacting with accelerometers (activity monitors), so that the necessary information—for example, the amount of walking in a day—automatically transmits to the device.

“With the PDA study, evaluations made were based almost entirely on the participants’ self-report,” King explained. “We’d like our devices to be able to provide real-time feedback using objective activity as well.”

In a companion study to be published later this year, King and colleagues have also evaluated the usefulness of PDAs in modifying dietary behavior. Results indicate that similar “probing” and feedback by a computer program—about a person’s eating habits rather than activity level—can nudge participants towards increasing their vegetable and whole-grain intake.

“Physical activity is only one piece of the puzzle; another is dietary intake,” King noted. She would like to eventually harness the tracking power of GPS, so that willing participants, “if they're walking past a Fresh Choice restaurant, can be prompted to go there instead of the fast-food outlet next door.”

Maybe that’s technical intervention, not divine—but it could be helpful, especially when you can’t get that vision of french fries out of your head.

February 05, 2008

Come on over THIS SATURDAY


Join me in NY this Saturday!


There are plenty of blogs that talk about the issues we brought up in this movie. Look out for them!



I am going to try and fine some ones that really talk about the issues...

February 04, 2008

News, and some more News

Effective communications between senior citizens and their doctor is receiving increased attention, with a growing number of studies showing there is a dangerous communications gap and that many seniors fail to understand health care instructions. In response, the National Institutes of Health have added a new subject to their Website for senior citizens – “How to Talk with Your Doctor.”

How do you talk about a sensitive subject with your doctor? What if you forget to ask an important question? What if you feel rushed during your visit? How can you get the most out of your visit with your health care provider?

Being able to communicate openly, comfortably and assertively with your doctor can help you make good health decisions and stay well. But some older people shy away from this approach and hesitate to ask questions or “take the doctor’s time”.

The best patient-doctor relationships are more of a partnership, with both sides taking responsibility for good communication. To guide older patients in speaking with their doctors, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers Talking with Your Doctor, a newly released topic on NIHSeniorHealth.gov, a Web site developed by NIH “with the needs of older people in mind”.

The NIHSeniorHealth.gov Web site is a joint effort of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), which are components of the NIH.

“Most people know that communicating with their doctor is important to their health care, especially as they age and are more likely to have health conditions and treatments to discuss,” says Judith A. Salerno, M.D., NIA deputy director.

“The key is to know how to have that conversation.”

More Help for Seniors

• Four Simple Lifestyle Habits to Extend Life
• Ten Ideas to Help Senior Citizens Out of Bed and into Exercising
• Nine Easy Steps to Fight Age-Related Memory Loss
• Nine Ways for Senior Citizens to Relieve Joint Stress and Pain
• Five Tips to Help Senior Citizens Begin Walking for Better Health
• Ten Steps to Control High Blood Pressure
• Ten Simple Rules to Save Your Hair as You Age
• Older Men Can Make Big Gains to Avoid Heart Disease Risk with Five Habits
• Tips to Reduce Gasoline Cost
Read the latest news on Senior Health & Medicine

Older adults can turn to this newest feature on the NIHSeniorHealth Web site for information on managing conversations with their doctor. How to prepare for a doctor visit, what to ask, what information to provide, and how to understand what the doctor says are among the many helpful tips older adults can find on the site.

One of the fastest growing age groups using the Internet, older Americans increasingly turn to the World Wide Web for health information. In fact, 68 percent of wired seniors surf for health and medical information when they go online.

NIHSeniorHealth.gov is based on the latest research on cognition and aging. It features short, easy-to-read segments of information that can be accessed in a variety of formats, including various large-print type sizes, open-captioned videos and an audio version.

The site also links to MedlinePlus (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/), the National Library of Medicine’s premier, more detailed site for consumer health information.

NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. NLM, the world's largest library of the health sciences, creates and sponsors Web-based health information resources for the public and professionals.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.