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Strenuous Exercise Prolongs the Lives of Cells

Italian researchers showed that after running a marathon, a person's lymphocytes live longer (BMC Physiology, May 2010). This could help to explain why exercisers live more than 12 years longer than those who do not exercise (British Journal of Sports Medicine, March 2008).

Every cell in your body has a programmable cell death called apoptosis. For example, skin cells live 28 days and then die. Cells lining the inside of your mouth and intestines live 48 hours, and your red blood cells live 120 days. When cells become cancerous, they live forever. They lose apoptosis and forget to die. Cancer cells then transfer to other tissues to prevent them from functioning. For example, breast cancer cells become so abundant that they may travel to your liver and damage it so you lose liver function. They travel to your brain and you lose brain function. Cancer cells kill by preventing other tissues from functioning in your body.

What would happen if your cells lived longer than they are supposed to, but still retained apoptosis and died, only later than they normally do? Perhaps you would live longer. This study shows that running a marathon prolongs the life of cells by increasing many of the messenger chemicals associated with delayed apoptosis, including SIRT1 (an enzyme that contributes to longevity).

Shortened telomeres (chromosome caps) represent aging. An earlier study showed that fifty-year-old competitive marathon runners have telomeres that were almost the same length as those of 20-year-old runners on the German National Team, and more than 40 percent longer than those or inactive men of the same age (Circulation, December 2009; reported in the February 10 eZine)


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: When I exercise, my sunscreen gets into my eyes and burns. Are sunscreens safe?

We do not know. Sunscreens have not been tested systematically. Oxybenzone in sunscreens has been shown to be absorbed into the bloodstream in humans, and to disrupt hormones in animals. Other common sunscreen ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, appear to be safe except that manufacturers often convert them to nanoparticles that can be inhaled. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide-based sunscreens that do not contain nanoparticles are generally thicker and whiter.

Since cumulative exposure to sunlight over a lifetime is what causes skin cancers, always cover the areas that have had the most sun exposure: face, tops of the ears, hands and arms. To avoid getting sun screen in your eyes,
• always wash your hands after each application,
• do not apply sunscreen above your cheeks,
• use clothes in place of sunscreens whenever you can.
Wear a hat that shields your forehead and the top of your ears. We have started wearing "arm coolers" that block the sun's rays and evaporate sweat rapidly to cool your arms at the same time. Arm cooler sources and more on sunscreen safety


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Could the beta blocker I take for high blood pressure make it harder for me to exercise?

Yes! Beta blockers prevent your heart from beating faster during exercise so you tire earlier and are more likely to quit exercising. They are very poor choices for people who exercise. Furthermore, beta blockers are among the least effective medications for lowering blood pressure and preventing heart attacks, and they do not treat a strained left heart or blood vessel damage (American Journal of Cardiology, May 2010). The authors reviewed extensive studies and showed that beta blockers are less effective than other medications in preventing strokes or heart attacks.

Beta blockers include: Acebutolol (Sectral), Atenolol (Tenormin), Betaxolol (Kerlone, Betoptic), Bisoprolol (Zebeta), Carteolol (Ocupress), Carvedilol (Coreg, Coreg CR), Esmolol (Brevibloc), Labetalol (Trandate), Levobunolol (Betagan), Metipranolol (OptiPranolol), Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL), Nadolol (Corgard), Nebivolol (Bystolic), Penbutolol (Levatol), Pindolol (Visken), Propranolol (Inderal, Inderal LA, InnoPran XL), Sotalol (Betapace, Sorine), Timolol (Betimol, Blocadren, Istalol, Timoptic).


Recipe of the Week:

A tasty new main dish contributed by eZine reader Cheryl Lee:
Veggie Rice

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 21st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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