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  1. #1
    subdude is offline First Set
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    Muscle mass, general health and longevity

    It's pretty easy to see the relative benefits of different body compositions for different sports. While having (reasonably) low BF% is of course beneficial for everyone, the optimal amount of muscle mass for a marathon runner is going to be a lot lower than the optimal amount for a linebacker. However, is there any information out there as to how much muscle mass is optimal for general health and longevity? That is, if one were not really concerned with how much he could squat or running a marathon and only cared about not getting sick and staying healthy to an old age, is there some balance point between scrawny long distance runner and powerlifter that gives one his best chance to be generally healthy and remain healthy longer than all his friends?

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  3. #2
    TopKnife is offline Warming Up
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    I don't know if a muscle mass range per height or build has been or can be correlated with longevity. Some of the parameters that have been studied scientifically are associated with lowering risk factors for heart disease and cancer.

    You can be very muscular and have a normal body fat percentage, but if your cardiovascular shape is poor, ie high resting heart rate and hypertension, then you will have decreased longevity.

    The overall number one cause of death in the US is heart disease, but the over 85 group skews the data. If you look at the entire population under the age of 85, the number one cause of death is cancer.

    In my opinion, the most important actions you can take to live long and strong are:

    1. Cardiovascular training to a resting HR<60 and BP<110/70 and a healthy (no fast/fried food) diet. Most physicians recommend a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times a week with a HR at least in the 60-70% of your max.
    2. Annual physician checkup and lab tests
    3. Low triglycrides and high HDL/LDL ratio
    4. A daily multivitamin, if not to supplement your diet, then to at least provide antioxidants that can reduce the risk of cancer.
    5. Always wear sun screen when exposed. Sun burn related cancers catch up to you in old age, especially if you are fair-skinned.
    6. Medication compliance if prescribed by your physician. It is unlikely to have a condition that requires medication if you follow 1-5 and don't develop disease. Unfortunately, genetics and environmental exposure do lead to disease, thus the crucial nature of #2. If you start treatment early, most diseases can be either kept from progressing or even cured.
    7. Injury pervention is a whole topic by itself, so I will just say be smart when you exercise. Get the education you need before doing something new and make sure you are doing it right. Stretch before and after religiously. Rest days are as crucial as your training days so don't sacrifice them.

    I won't bother listing obesity, smoking, drinking alcohol, or elicit drugs since I assume you already know that. They have been shown you to accelerate physiologic age. I've seen patients in their 40's with bodies that function like a 90-100 year old's (multi-organ dysfunction if not failure).

    I bike or run on my off days for my cardiovascular workout. However, when I lift weights, I do circuit style training to increase my heart rate and rest no more than 30 seconds between sets. This approach adds to your cardiovascular fitness.

    If you take supplements, roids, or GH, then #2 will be very important because it is possible to over do it and damage your kidneys, liver, and heart. Steroids have been associated with hypertension and development of heart disease. Supraphysiologic levels of GH leading to high IGF1 levels will increase your risk for cancer.

    Cheers,
    TopKnife

  4. #3
    tjl
    tjl is offline Third Set
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopKnife View Post
    In my opinion, the most important actions you can take to live long and strong are:

    1. Cardiovascular training to a resting HR<60 and BP<110/70 and a healthy (no fast/fried food) diet. Most physicians recommend a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times a week with a HR at least in the 60-70% of your max.
    But is that recommended amount of exercise sufficient to bring resting HR < 60 and BP < 110/70 in most people?

    Indeed, current CDC guidelines for adults suggest, at a minimum, 2.5 hours of moderate cardio or 1.25 hours of intense cardio per week, plus strength exercises (like weight training) twice per week. And they suggest doubling that for even greater benefits. Physical Activity for Everyone: Guidelines: Adults | DNPAO | CDC

    Quote Originally Posted by TopKnife View Post
    2. Annual physician checkup and lab tests
    Recommendations that I have seen give varying intervals based on age and personal risk factors (e.g. previously detected abnormalities, family history, etc.), and not all tests necessarily at the same intervals. However, there seems to be little consensus on many tests, or even the frequency of doctor visits for younger adults without known health problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by TopKnife View Post
    4. A daily multivitamin, if not to supplement your diet, then to at least provide antioxidants that can reduce the risk of cancer.
    Wasn't there a big study that found that "After a median follow-up of 8.0 and 7.9 years in the clinical trial and observational study cohorts, respectively, the Women's Health Initiative study provided convincing evidence that multivitamin use has little or no influence on the risk of common cancers, CVD, or total mortality in postmenopausal women."

    Arch Intern Med -- Abstract: Multivitamin Use and Risk of Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease in the Women's Health Initiative Cohorts, February 9, 2009, Neuhouser et al. 169 (3): 294

    Quote Originally Posted by TopKnife View Post
    5. Always wear sun screen when exposed. Sun burn related cancers catch up to you in old age, especially if you are fair-skinned.
    True, but wouldn't a little unscreened exposure (far below the sunburn threshold) be useful for vitamin D generation (otherwise, one may have to consume a lot of certain fish, egg yolks, supplements, or fortified foods to get vitamin D)?

  5. #4
    Karky is offline Former member of VulgarityGang
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    good point on the multivits.. It's also cool that researchers are unable to show that antioxidant supps reduce illness, even though everyone says that the antioxidants in fruits and veggies help.. so do the antioxidants in fruits and veggies help, but not the antioxidants in supps, or are there other things in fruits and veggies that help? (a lot of epidemiological data suggests that people who eat a lot of fruit and veggies live longer, less CVD, etc)

  6. #5
    g8r80 is offline Request Title Change from Admin
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    Great points,TJL, especially about sunscreen. I agree that some sun is beneficial as our bodies have evolved with it. I also agree that too much of a good thing (sun exposure) is a bad thing.

    To the OP, smaller bodies have longer longevity, Height, body size, and longevity: is smaller better for the humanbody?, so I guess you could extrapolate and say that smaller bodies are healthier than bigger bodies when body fat is equal.

  7. #6
    TopKnife is offline Warming Up
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    researchers are unable to show that antioxidant supps reduce illness?

    Quote Originally Posted by tjl View Post
    the Women's Health Initiative study provided convincing evidence that multivitamin use has little or no influence on the risk of common cancers, CVD, or total mortality in postmenopausal women.
    If you want to argue as opposition, you can always find an article that says what you want it to say.

    Since we are not talking about postmenopausal women, I don't think your reference is readily applicable. There are always limitations to the conclusions you can draw about the general population when you are studying a very small and specific subgroup.

    The biology and cancer risk of a woman is very different than a man. Also, menopause has detrimental effects on women that men do not have to endure. Therefore, it would be imprudent to draw a conclusion about young men, or young women, or other demographic group based on data from post-menopausal women.

    Loss of ovarian hormones and age alone dramatically increase cancer risk in women. Therefore, those risk factors alone probably mask any benefit that may be gained from multivitamin antioxidants.

    In addition, the benefit of antioxidants will depend on what cancer you are studying. I never said multivitamins will prevent all cancers and I do not believe this is true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Karky View Post
    good point on the multivits.. It's also cool that researchers are unable to show that antioxidant supps reduce illness
    JTL, propagation of misinformation is why I find it disturbing when people go find the one article defending their view point, even one that is not very relevant, then mislead others into believing something that is fringe and far from what the overwhelming scientific evidence shows. Multivitamins/antioxidants, even supplemental, can reduce risk of certain cancers.

    Karky, if you go to pubmed (PubMed Home) and search vitamin and cancer, there are 29686 results. If the relationship of vitamins and cancer was not important, we would not be studying it. Start by scrolling down and read some of these papers. Some of those articles will say there is benefit for certain cancers and none for other cancers.

    Keep in mind that there is a bias in many of these epidemiologic studies against multivitamins, since people with increased family/genetic risk for cancer not only tend to take more than 7 multivitamins per week, but also load up on additional individual vitamin and herbal supplements which cause more harm than good.

    Just to answer JTL's single reference attack, and to show you how easy and potentially misleading it can be, here is mine.

    And no, that woman's study did not look at Barrett's or esophageal cancer.

    Dietary Supplement Use and Risk of Neoplastic Progression in Esophageal Adenocarcinoma
    A Prospective Study
    Dietary Supplement Use and Risk of Neoplastic Progression in Esophageal Adenocarcinoma

    Final conclusions:
    1. There are multiple studies that show a reduction in risk for certain cancers in patients taking multivitamin supplements.
    2. Not all cancers are affected
    3. Vitamin deficiencies DO cause illness and a "presumed normal" diet does not guarantee normal vitamin levels.
    4. Everyone is different and an individual's gastrointestinal tract may or may not absorb dietary vitamins efficiently. These individuals would most likely benefit greatly from vitamin supplementation. There are many people with undiagnosed gastrointestinal motility disorders and malabsorption.
    5. The belief that there is no benefit from multivitamin supplements, once per day, is a fringe opinion.

  8. #7
    TopKnife is offline Warming Up
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    Vitamin Deficiency, Weight Loss, and Fitness

    We should talk about vitamin deficiency. To me, vitamin deficiency is problem that is more acute, that is larger, and a harbinger of illness in the weight loss folks that come to this forum if not the fitness folks.

  9. #8
    tjl
    tjl is offline Third Set
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopKnife View Post
    And no, that woman's study did not look at Barrett's or esophageal cancer.
    Which is even less common and even more of a special case than being a post-menopausal women, isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by TopKnife View Post
    5. The belief that there is no benefit from multivitamin supplements, once per day, is a fringe opinion.
    Is this report from the World Cancer Reseach Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research a fringe opinion?

    Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective - online

    In the summary here:

    http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/d...ry/english.pdf

    on page 13, recommendation 8 says "Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone", although it footnotes "This may not always be feasible. In some situations of illness or dietary inadequacy, supplements may be valuable." Would you say that the "situations of illness or dietary inadequacy" are the usual case, or the unusual case?

    For a public health goal, it says "Maximise the proportion of the population achieving nutritional adequacy without dietary supplements." For a personal recommendation, it says "Dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention."
    Last edited by tjl; Oct. 02/09 at 08:31 AM.

  10. #9
    TopKnife is offline Warming Up
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjl View Post

    on page 13, recommendation 8 says "Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone", although it footnotes "This may not always be feasible. In some situations of illness or dietary inadequacy, supplements may be valuable." Would you say that the "situations of illness or dietary inadequacy" are the usual case, or the unusual case?

    For a public health goal, it says "Maximise the proportion of the population achieving nutritional adequacy without dietary supplements." For a personal recommendation, it says "Dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention."
    These recommendations do not alter my final conclusions because there are no conflicts. Not recommended does not equate no evidence. I already pointed out the controversy.

    My argument is against the impression given that there is no benefit from vitamin supplements. All natural is great, but even perceived good diets lead to vitamin or other deficiency which I believe is a common situation.

    If you are so confident in your diet that you never get tested, you may never know if you have a deficiency until disease develops. Therefore, if you don't believe in vitamin supplementation, at least have your vitamin levels checked regularly.

  11. #10
    Karky is offline Former member of VulgarityGang
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    granted there are some mixed results on the antioxidants (there ALWAYS is with research) I've never found anything that convinced me they help for regular folk.

    That paper you cited used people who already had Barrett's esophagus, so you can't extrapolate those results to a population without that syndrome. Maybe I should have said that I was talking based on regular people (not that there is such a thing, but you catch my drift) and not people with a preexisting syndrome such as Barrett's esophagus.

    JAMA -- Abstract: Mortality in Randomized Trials of Antioxidant Supplements for Primary and Secondary Prevention: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, February 28, 2007, Bjelakovic et al. 297 (8): 842

    Antioxidants in health and disease -- Young and Woodside 54 (3): 176 -- Journal of Clinical Pathology

    JAMA -- Abstract: Vitamin E in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: The Women's Health Study: A Randomized Controlled Trial, July 6, 2005, Lee et al. 294 (1): 56


    Here's one that finds a benefit of simultaneous vit e and c supps in the elderly
    Vitamin E and vitamin C supplement use and risk of all-cause and coronary heart disease mortality in older persons: the Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly -- Losonczy et al. 64 (2): 190 -- American Journal of Clinical Nu


    Mind you, this time, I only went through the abstracts, as I don't really have time to read through the entire studies, but abstracts usually don't lie about what the study finds.

  12. #11
    Karky is offline Former member of VulgarityGang
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    To address the original question though:
    It would be hard to do good research on this as you'd need to follow a lot of people over a lot of years and know their muscle mass and fat. BMI wouldn't work, waist/hip ratio wouldn't work, waist ratio wouldn't work.. that problem is that there aren't really any cheap methods that are good for measuring body fat and muscle mass.

    You can get some cheap measures on muscle strength, though. here is one that used grip strength:
    Muscle Strength and Body Mass Index as Long-Term Predictors of Mortality in Initially Healthy Men -- Rantanen et al. 55 (3): 168 -- Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences

    Though strength and muscle mass are not the same.

    From a theoretical standpoint it could be argued that you should supplement your resistance training with endurance training to keep the mitochondrial density up.
    If you do a lot of strength training and get big, the mitochondria usually don't get any larger or higher in number, which means there will be less mitochondria per gram of muscle (a low mitochondrial density).
    It could be argued that having a high mitochondrial density is a good thing for long term health since more mitochondria means that each mitochondria has to do less work, which means less reactive oxygen species, which is a good thing. Being huge without endurance training could therefore be a bad thing.

    This is just based on physiology, though, and I have no idea if any studies are done on this. I would doubt it, though, as measuring mitochondrial density is expensive and you can't do it with a lot of people in a cohort study.

  13. #12
    johnny83 is offline First Set
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    These are all good studies and articles here, yet each can be debated til your blue in the face "or the fingers from typing". The OP's question how can you stay healthier longer than all your friends due to a balance point does not have an exact answer. There are too many variables in life and within the individual. My answer would be : keep up your trainin with a good balance of weights and cardio or whatever form of exercise you do to keep your body fit, eat healthy as much as possible. If you feel the need and its your beleif, take your supps and/or vitamins. Other than that, when its your time its your time. This can not be debated. In the mean time enjoy life and your health as much as possible. Just my 3 cents.

  14. #13
    tjl
    tjl is offline Third Set
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karky View Post
    To address the original question though:
    It would be hard to do good research on this as you'd need to follow a lot of people over a lot of years and know their muscle mass and fat. BMI wouldn't work, waist/hip ratio wouldn't work, waist ratio wouldn't work.. that problem is that there aren't really any cheap methods that are good for measuring body fat and muscle mass.
    True. Although for a population study, perhaps adding something simple like waist size to height and weight may be ok for estimating fatness.

    The following study indicates that skin folds were used to determine fatness:

    Weight loss increases and fat loss decreases all-cause mortality rate: results from two independent cohort studies

  15. #14
    Karky is offline Former member of VulgarityGang
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    yeah, but I think most circumference to anything would have a pretty high error of estimate, maybe too big to be able to say anything about differences in muscle muscle mass and longevity.

    skinfolds aren't that bad, but a lot of people have a beer belly so it should be used with waist measurements. I wonder if any such studies have been done. I'm betting most of them would look at fat% and not muscle, though. It would be cool to see if there was a difference in longevity between individuals with similar BF% but different amounts of muscle mass.. Though you'd might have to throw BF% out the window, as those with more muscle would be able to have more total fat with the same BF%.. Which leads me to another interesting question: is it the BF% that matters, or the actual fat mass of the body?

  16. #15
    TopKnife is offline Warming Up
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karky View Post
    yeah, but I think most circumference to anything would have a pretty high error of estimate, maybe too big to be able to say anything about differences in muscle muscle mass and longevity.

    skinfolds aren't that bad, but a lot of people have a beer belly so it should be used with waist measurements. I wonder if any such studies have been done. I'm betting most of them would look at fat% and not muscle, though. It would be cool to see if there was a difference in longevity between individuals with similar BF% but different amounts of muscle mass.. Though you'd might have to throw BF% out the window, as those with more muscle would be able to have more total fat with the same BF%.. Which leads me to another interesting question: is it the BF% that matters, or the actual fat mass of the body?
    I think it is proportional fat, thus BF% that will be important. You need a minimum fat threshold for cellular/hormonal syntesis and maintenance, etc. If you have no fat, then all those processes will be compromised. So the inverse is probably true, you need a minimum threshold of muscle mass for longevity. As was stated earlier, studies on low caloric diets in animals show greater longevity. I will go on a limb and say that a light heavyweight bodybuilder will live longer than a heavyweight at the same height. I base this logic in that the heavyweight has to take a lot more calories and expend more energy to maintain the greater muscle mass.

    One could study the longevity of former bodybuilder competitors and look at their lifespan, then do a class to class comparison. It isn't a perfectly controlled study, but at least they tend to have low BF%. It shouldn't be hard to do it retrospectively.

    Regarding BF measurements, I never imagined that the impedance measurement from my Tanita scale would be accurate based on what's written on the net. However, I just had a DEXA scan done and my scale measurement was within 0.1%!

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