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Myths about aging denied.

Myths About Aging Denied

SAN FRANCISCO: Does biomedical decline come inevitably with old age? No, says Franklin Williams, M.D. Speaking at the new Buck Geriatric Center for Research on Aging in Marin County, California, Dr. Williams observed that recent discoveries are countering such assumptions.

Dr. Williams said that, despite the fact biochemical changes, such as declines in heart muscle responses, will occur with age, most of our organs can maintain an astonishing degree of function throughout the later years.

He points to data from a 30-year study of healthy people who showed no evidence of a decline in cardiac output because of age. "There has to be another underlying cause, a disease process," he explained.

Dr. Williams also noted that a 1985 report by the National Institute on Neurological Disease and Stroke found no difference in PET scans taken of men age 20, 40, 60 and 80 years, implying that aging is not associated with an inevitable decline in brain metabolism.

Intellectual performance tests, Williams said, consistently remind us that people in their 70s seldom show intellectual decline.

Allowing for the fact that the risk of diabetes increases with age, Williams suggested that the effects can be minimized by moderate exercise and proper diet. The decline in glucose tolerance among older people, he said, can be ameliorated to the point at which normal levels can be achieved.

Williams said that the principal challenge facing specialists in geriatric medicine concerns dealing with chronic conditions. "Dementia is by far the most threatening epidemic facing our society today. It dwarfs cancer, AIDS, and heart disease in terms of burdensome care."
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Sep 22, 1990
Words:268
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