View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Monday, November 3, 2008

Anti-ageing Congress in the UAE and is 100 the New 80 in the Emirates?

Congress on Anti-Ageing
This week (7-9 November 2008) the Dubai Congress on Anti-Aging and Aesthetic Medicine is being held at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The programme includes workshops on metal free dentistry and the latest techniques in spa therapy.

General sessions will address laser surgery, facial rejuvenation, face fillers, radiation from mobile phones, laser liposculpture and blepharoplasty.

It would be interesting to learn what workshops and sessions will have a distinctly Emirati and Middle Eastern flavour. Where does Islamic teaching challenge anti-ageing surgical procedures and inform the science of anti-ageing?

Ageing in the Emirates
According to the World Health Statistics 2008, the UAE is making good progress with the expected mortality rate at birth in the Emirates being 78 years.

This attainment and progress compares favorably with other countries:

Bangladesh 63
Pakistan 63
Malaysia 72
UAE 78
USA 78
UK 79
NZ 80
Canada 81
Australia 82

The Importance of Genetics
According to a recent article in Scientific American, American scientists have recruited centenarians for extensive physical and genetic screening.

Discovering the importance of genetics SA says:
“Of particular interest to researchers is that some of the oldsters have a history of obesity and heavy smoking. But despite these risk factors, most centenarians remain healthy up to the last few months of their lives and, in some cases, up until their dying breaths.”

“Although sheer luck no doubt plays a role, ‘there is also a striking family history that supports a genetic component,’ says Nir Barzilai, a geneticist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. In fact, he adds, the odds of centenarians having a relative who lived into old age is 20 times that of the average person.”

“The goal now is ‘to find the subtle genetic differences between individuals in the genes or families of genes associated with longevity,’ says Judith Campisi, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. By understanding the underlying biology of aging, she notes, it may be possible to develop drugs in the future that will promote healthy aging and delay age-related diseases such as some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.”

“The first genetic clues for slowing aging emerged from animal models in which the effect of individual genes on average life spans could be tested. From these early studies, it became clear that insulin (a hormone secreted by the pancreas that signals cells to absorb sugar) and its receptors are critical for longevity in species from yeast or fungi to humans.”

78…98, 99, 100!
The Scientific American article asks whether 100 is the new 80 in the USA.

Experts in the Emirates have been stressing the importance of good diet, reducing sugar and regular exercise to ensure that residents reach well over ‘three score years and ten’.

The SA article suggests that there are genetic secrets still to discover so an increasing number of residents in the UAE might celebrate centenarian status.

Barbara Juncosa, Is 100 the New 80? Centenarians Studied to Find the Secret of Longevity, Scientific American, 28 October 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Old men in the UAE talking about the good old days.