Secrets of longevity may lie in long-lived smokers, a ‘biologically distinct’ group with extraordinary gene variants – The Washington Post

Jeanne Calment, the French doyenne believed to be oldest person in the world when she died at the extreme age of 122, was known for three things: her quick wit, her fondness for bicycling around the small city where she grew up — and the fact that she was a daily smoker.

Before her death in 1997, Calment was often asked the secret to her good health. She would respond with a laugh and describe how she would frequently consume two pounds of chocolate a week, drank generous amounts of port wine and became a smoker at age 21.

At a time when public health messages emphasize just how important it is to carefully balance diets and fitness regimes in order to live long lives, Calment is a reminder of that no matter what we do there may always be a part of our health that is beyond our control.

In an intriguing study published this week, researchers delved into the genetic makeup of long-lived smokers like Calment and found that their survival may be due to an innate resilience they were born with.

Source: Secrets of longevity may lie in long-lived smokers, a ‘biologically distinct’ group with extraordinary gene variants – The Washington Post

Scientists Transform Skin Cells into Functioning Liver Cells

The power of regenerative medicine now allows scientists to transform skin cells into cells that closely resemble heart cells, pancreas cells and even neurons. However, a method to generate cells that are fully mature – a crucial prerequisite for life-saving therapies – has proven far more difficult.

But now, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes and UC San Francisco have made an important breakthrough: they have discovered a way to transform skin cells into mature, fully functioning liver cells that flourish on their own, even after being transplanted into laboratory animals modified to mimic liver failure.

digital illustration of liver inside a man
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The Intriguing Link Between Spicy Food and a Longer Life

People who love chili peppers might be eating their way to a longer life, according to a new study published in The BMJ.

“We know something about the beneficial effects of spicy foods basically from animal studies and very small-sized human studies,” says study author Lu Qi, associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Some of those preliminary studies have found that spicy food and their active components—like capsaicin, the compound found in chili peppers—might lower inflammation, improve metabolic status and have a positive effect on gut bacteria and weight, he says.
Spicy chili, Salento, Apulia, Italy in March 2014.
via The Intriguing Link Between Spicy Food and a Longer Life | TIME.

Colorectal cancer: A disease of development

Across the globe, as economies grow, so too does the incidence of colorectal cancer. Lifestyle changes are to blame, and in this Nature Video we see how increases in colorectal cancer are affecting many countries around the world, and what this could mean in the future to a world that is still developing.

Memories More Accessible After a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleeping not only protects memories from being forgotten, it also makes them easier to access, according to new research from the University of Exeter and the Basque Centre for Cognition, Brain and Language. The findings suggest that after sleep we are more likely to recall facts which we could not remember while still awake.This image shows a man sleeping with his brain exposed.
Continue reading “Memories More Accessible After a Good Night’s Sleep”

Neuroscience: Crammed with connections

]In a piece of brain tissue smaller than a dust mite, there are thousands of brain cell branches and connections. Researchers from Harvard University in Boston, MA have mapped them all in a new study appearing in Cell. They find some unexpected insights about how the cells talk to each other.