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8 things you can do every day to up your odds of living a long, happy life

8 things you can do every day to up your odds of living a long, happy life

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Princess Anne attend the annual Braemar Highland Gathering on September 1, 2018 in Braemar, Scotland.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Princess Anne attend the annual Braemar Highland Gathering on September 1, 2018 in Braemar, Scotland.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

There’s no cure for death, and no way we know of (yet) to extend human life.

But scientists have discovered many clear, science-backed ways to increase your changes of living to a ripe old age, while staying happy and healthy.

Here are eight of the most surefire ways to live longer and better, according to science.

Get moving.

Regular exercise helps keep your heart healthy.

People who run, walk, and jump around regularly have lower blood pressure, even if they only start to work out in middle age.

One 2018 study of 58 men and women between the ages of 48 and 58 in Texas found that two years of regular workouts five days per week made people more fit, improved heart stiffness, led their bodies to pump blood more efficiently, and reduced their risk of heart failure.

“The ‘sweet spot’ in life to get off the couch and start exercising is in late-middle age, when the heart still has plasticity,” lead study author Benjamin Levine, a cardiologist from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said in a release when that study came out.

Staying fit can also help keep your brain strong.

Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

In addition to keeping hearts in shape, many studies also suggest that regular movement is a great way to keep our brains sharp and help ward off cognitive decline.

Scientists think the fact that exercisers get more blood pumping to their brains when they work out might have something to do with this benefit.

In addition to cardio, incorporate some lifting into your routine.

REUTERS/Yuya Shino

Muscle training isn’t just about looking good in a tank top.

Studies suggest it can help keep you alive.

A comprehensive review of 23 scientific studies conducted in 2015 suggests that people who develop strong muscles are less likely to die for all kinds of reasons. The finding held true for everyone from cancer patients to people with heart disease, regardless of other factors like how fat or fit they were, how much alcohol they drank, whether they smoked, or how old they were.

“You’re never too old to do something,” Bryant Johnson, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s trainer, told the Associated Press.

Eat more fresh foods, like vegetables and fruits, which contain health-promoting phytochemicals.


A plate full of colorful plants doesn’t just look pretty – those bright colors come from nutrient-rich phytochemicals, which reduce inflammation in the body and help keep people cancer-free.

Vegetables and other plants like whole grains and nuts also help keep people full and satisfied after eating by providing plenty of fiber (which is missing in meat).

Eating more plants may also lead people to cut back on junk food, which we know is linked to more death and cancer cases, and rely less on animal proteins, which are linked to more heart attack deaths.

Specifically, follow the Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of fresh greens, fish, and fruit.


Study after study suggests that a Mediterranean diet, which is traditionally rich in fish, olive oil, fruits, nuts, and vegetables, is ideal for overall health.

Evidence even suggests that a specific kind of Mediterranean-style diet, called the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), may be one of the best for avoiding cognitive decline. The MIND diet encourages people to eat plenty of leafy greens, and fresh fruit like berries, which studies suggest are some of the best for brain health, while limiting some other Mediterranean staples, like eggs and cheese.

One 2015 study of over 900 people suggested that people who follow the MIND diet closely can lower their rate of cognitive decline by a measurable amount – the equivalent of gaining 7.5 years of young, sharp life. Another long-term study of the MIND diet involving 600 adults over age 65 is ongoing in the US, with some of the first results expected by 2021.

Enjoy working on tough problems.

Nobel Laureate Arthur Ashkin, 96, in his basement lab on December 21, 2018.
Hilary Brueck/Business Insider

One might think that a 96-year-old scientist with a Nobel Prize would be taking it easy now. But not Arthur Ashkin. The physicist – who helped develop optical tweezers, which can pick up tiny objects using only light – still tinkers in his basement lab every day.

People who study age-related decline aren’t surprised by that.

“While nobody knows exactly why some people are superagers, we believe that one common factor is that they engage in demanding mental exercise,” Lisa Feldman Barrett, a psychology professor who studies superaging, recently wrote in The Guardian.

Finding meaningful work can also help connect us to others – another key to aging well.

“Working for a social cause or purpose with others who share your values and are trusted partners puts you in contact with others and helps develop a greater sense of community,” Steve Cole, director of the Social Genomics Core Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles, recently told the National Institutes of Health.

Enjoy yourself.

A senior woman from the Dan tribe dances during a ceremony in the Ivory Coast, May 5, 2019.
Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images

A British study followed more than 9,300 people over the age of 50 over several years, and found that people who generally agreed with statements like “I enjoy the things that I do,” “I feel full of energy these days,” and “I look back on my life with a sense of happiness,” were less likely to die than people who found those statements untrue and said they weren’t as happy with their lives.

People who reported some of the lowest levels of enjoyment in life were also the most likely to die.

Pick out friends and companions who you like spending time with, and make them a priority.


One of the best things you can do for your long-term health is to spend time with people who you care about.

An 80-year study of more than 250 men, which started when they were sophomores at Harvard during the Great Depression, suggested that close, nurturing relationships were more important for their long-lasting happiness than wealth, intelligence, or genetics.

“Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains,” study director Robert Waldinger said in a TED talk.

Another study of more than 300,000 people around the globe found that people with “adequate social relationships” are 50% less likely to die. Being with a partner can help, too. Researchers have long noticed that married people are better nourished and survive more heart attacks. Married men specifically tend to have better brain health in old age.

It makes sense then that people who feel more isolated and lonely fare worse when it comes to a host of health outcomes: They develop higher rates of heart problems, obesity, and cognitive decline. In fact, one study of more than 1,600 people in the US over age 60 found that loneliness was predictive of both functional decline and death. (But it’s important to remember that loneliness isn’t the same thing as being alone, so it’s best to focus on the quality of your relationships, instead of how much time you spend around other people.)

Finally, get serious about your sleep schedule.

Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

Sleep makes our waking life possible: When our bodies rest, our brains get to work, flushing out toxins and helping maintain the neural pathways that allow us to learn and form memories.

A lack of good sleep (less than 8 hours a night or so) is linked to higher rates of disease, overweight bodies, stroke, and Alzheimer’s.

When we don’t get enough snooze time, we deplete our body’s stores of white blood cells – natural killer cells that are critical in our immune response.

It’s common for older people to sleep less and wake up more frequently. Researchers are still working to identify the mechanisms that regulate sleep in old age, but there are some initial clues that the loss of some of the same receptors in the brain that regulate sleep may also be linked to shorter lifespans.

A dangerous flesh-eating bacteria is gaining a larger foothold in the US as the oceans warm

A dangerous flesh-eating bacteria is gaining a larger foothold in the US as the oceans warm

Dianne Manson/Getty Images

In the Chesapeake Bay and along the Gulf Coast, people can contract a dangerous flesh-eating bacterial infection after eating or handling raw shellfish.

Infections caused by Vibrio vulnificus can result in tissue death, and sometimes lead to limb amputations. Fortunately they’re also rare in the US.

But a case report published today in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that rising ocean temperatures may lead the bacteria to spread to previously unaffected waters.

“In 2017, we saw three cases of severe skin infections, which raised some flags,” Dr. Katherine Doktor, an infectious disease specialist at Cooper University Hospital who co-wrote the report, told Business Insider. “In 2018, we saw two more. These five cases are significant because in the eight years prior to 2017, we only saw one case of Vibrio vulnificus at our institution.”

Read More: A man had his arm amputated after eating raw seafood contaminated with a potentially flesh-eating bacteria

People can catch the bacteria by handling or consuming raw shellfish

In the past, V. vulnificus infections have arisen after people swam in or came into contact with seafood from the Chesapeake Bay. But it was very rare for this to occur farther north, in the cooler Delaware Bay. That’s no longer the case, according to Doktor and her colleagues. All five patients in the case report were infected after they were exposed to water in the Delaware Bay or consumed crabs in the area.

There are multiple species of Vibrio bacteria, and most make us sick, causing diarrhea, cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Usually such symptoms pass in about three days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But V. vulnificus can cause serious bloodstream infections that are accompanied by blood-filled blisters and necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease, which kills body tissue. Often these infections can be treated with antibiotics, but the dead tissue must sometimes be removed, or the associated limb amputated, to keep the infection from spreading to other parts of the body. The bloodstream infection leads to death in 20% of cases.

People can get infected with Vibrio vulnificus by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters, according to the CDC. It can also infect the skin if an open wound is exposed to brackish water or saltwater. Some people get infections after wading through storm flood waters. There were several Vibrio-associated deaths after Hurricane Katrina, for example.

“The infection courses through the entire body, kind of like a hurricane or tornado that ravages everything,” Doktor said.

Of the five patients mentioned in the new case report, three had to get infected tissue removed, one man had his hands and feet amputated, and one person died in the hospital.

A Vibrio vulnificus infection caused swollen blisters on a man's hand. The limb later had to be amputated.

A Vibrio vulnificus infection caused swollen blisters on a man’s hand. The limb later had to be amputated.
The New England Journal of Medicine, 2018.

The bacteria is expanding its range due to warming waters

According to the authors of the case report, climate change is partially responsible for the growing range of this deadly bacteria. Last year was the warmest year on record for Earth’s oceans, and warmer waters “are associated with alterations in the quantity, distribution, and seasonal windows” of V. vulnificus. That likely explains why infections are occurring more frequently outside the traditional geographic boundaries of this bacteria, the authors wrote.

“The bacteria likes warm salty water,” Doktor said, adding that cases usually peak between late July and early October, when the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay are warmest.

Doktor said the case report is meant to alert clinicians in the Delaware Bay area that they might see more of this type of infection than they once did, and urge them to consider it as a potential diagnosis when patients come in with wounds matching V. vulnificus exposure.

An oyster farmer opens a diseased oyster in Sydney, Australia, in 2005.

An oyster farmer opens a diseased oyster in Sydney, Australia, in 2005.
Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Vibrio infections have also been reported in Europe, and in 2018, a South Korean man had to have his left forearm amputated after contracting the infection from eating raw seafood.

V. vulnificus isn’t the only infectious disease spreading due to warming

Doktor said patients who contract severe Vibrio infections – like those in the case report – typically have other risk factors like liver disease, diabetes, or hepatitis.

“People who don’t have any health problems who are exposed to bacteria may feel a little sick,” she said, though she added that it’s still a good idea to avoid consuming raw or undercooked shellfish.

But Doktor added that experts who study infectious diseases aren’t just worried about V. vulnificus spreading due to warming.

“We’re concerned about infections that were once considered only tropical could now occur at warmer latitudes,” she said.

A study published in March forecasted that climate change is likely affect the range and distribution of mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus and dengue fever. According to that study, nearly 500 million new people could be at risk of exposure to these diseases by 2050.

The mosquito (Aedes aegypti) can spread several diseases as it travels from person to person.

The mosquito (Aedes aegypti) can spread several diseases as it travels from person to person.

If greenhouse-gas emissions continue to rise unabated, nearly 1 billion new people will be exposed to these disease-carrying mosquito species by the year 2080.

A Louisiana woman’s toxicology report suggested she’s the first person to overdose on marijuana, but an expert says it’s unlikely

A Louisiana woman’s toxicology report suggested she’s the first person to overdose on marijuana, but an expert says it’s unlikely

A woman holds marijuana for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018.

A woman holds marijuana for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018.
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
  • Following the death of a 39-year-old New Orleans woman in February, people are wondering whether she overdosed on marijuana.
  • In May, a coroner said that her toxicology report showed traces of THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana, but no other drugs or alcohol, according to the New Orleans Advocate.
  • The report also found no signs of physical diseases in the woman.
  • Although marijuana use can cause side effects, it’s nearly impossible to die from consuming too much of it, according to Dr. Jeffrey Chen, executive director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative.
  • Additionally, toxicology reports aren’t always 100% accurate.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

Experts are debating the safety of marijuana after a coroner said that THC was the only suspect substance in the toxicology report of a New Orleans, Louisiana, woman who died in February.

“It looked like it was all THC because her autopsy showed no physical disease or afflictions that were the cause of death. There was nothing else identified in the toxicology – no other drugs, no alcohol,” St. John the Baptist Parish Coroner Christy Montegut told the New Orleans Advocate.

THC is the main psychoactive component in marijuana.

Montegut told the Advocate this could be the first marijuana-related overdose in history, as no others have been documented. But experts are skeptical.

“We know from really good survey data that Americans use cannabis products billions of times a year, collectively. Not millions of times, but billions of times a year,” Keith Humphreys, a former senior policy adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the Advocate. “So, that means that if the risk of death was one in a million, we would have a couple thousand cannabis overdose deaths a year.”

Marijuana overdoses are also unlikely because of the sheer amount of the substance that would be needed to cause such a reaction, Dr. Jeffrey Chen, executive director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, told INSIDER.

Consuming too much marijuana can cause side effects, but is unlikely to lead to death

Depending on a person’s tolerance to cannabis, consuming marijuana could cause reactions like a racing heart, slower reaction times, nausea, and vomiting.

If you add health-related conditions into the mix, things get a little more dangerous. If someone has a pre-existing heart condition, for example, Dr. Chen said cannabis could speed up their heart rate to the point they could have a heart attack.

But for a healthy person, the side effects that come with consuming marijuana, even in large quantities, aren’t enough to cause a life-threatening reaction.

“There is a theoretical THC limit that could lead to an overdose…but it’s basically impossible to consume a level that high,” Dr. Chen told INSIDER.

Read more: A mysterious condition makes marijuana users violently ill, and it reveals a hidden downside to the drug’s growing popularity

He said that a person could theoretically overdose by getting a large amount of THC injected into their bloodstream, but even that might not work.

If a person tried to smoke enough cannabis to overdose, they’d die of asphyxiation before anything else, according to Dr. Chen. “You’d have to smoke several hundred pounds of cannabis in an hour for your blood levels to hit that theoretical limit,” he said.

Toxicology reports may not show the full picture of why a person died

Toxicology reports also aren’t always fully accurate, adding another layer of complexity to the woman’s death.

Researchers involved in a 2008 study on the effectiveness of post-mortem toxicology reports for detecting illicit drugs concluded that these reports offer incomplete analyses because these reports don’t always take into account whether a person used different drugs in the past that could have caused long term health problems.

As cannabis is legalized throughout the US , people will continue to debate its side effects. Dr. Chen said using the slim likelihood of overdose to disprove marijuana safety will do little to move the conversation forward.

“[Falling] coconuts kill a couple hundred people per year and there isn’t a public outcry against coconuts,” he said.

A controversial startup that charges $8,000 to fill your veins with young blood and halted operations after an FDA warning now says it’s back up and running

A controversial startup that charges $8,000 to fill your veins with young blood and halted operations after an FDA warning now says it’s back up and running

A bag of red blood cells.

A bag of red blood cells.
Joern Pollex/Getty Images
  • A controversial blood-transfusion startup called Ambrosia was offering to fill a person’s veins with the blood of young people for $8,000, despite little to no hard evidence that the procedure has any benefits.
  • On the heels of a warning from federal regulators in February, Ambrosia said on its website that it had stopped giving the procedure.
  • But on Monday, Ambrosia’s founder told a potential customer that the company was back up and running in two cities: San Francisco and Tampa, according to emails that Business Insider viewed.
  • As Business Insider has previously reported, several researchers have warned against the procedure – including those whose original science inspired it.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On the heels of a warning from federal regulators, a controversial startup that offered to fill a person’s veins with young blood for $8,000 said it had stopped providing the procedure.

The company, called Ambrosia, now claims to be back up and running in two cities, according to emails between the founder and a potential customer that Business Insider viewed on Monday. There’s no scientific evidence that shows that the treatments could help anyone and several experts who have spoken with Business Insider about the process have raised red flags.

But because the US Food and Drug Administration has approved blood transfusions for emergencies like car crashes and other life-saving procedures, Ambrosia’s approach was able to continue as an off-label treatment.

In February, regulators with the FDA warned people against getting transfusions of young blood that purport to provide anti-aging and other health benefits.

“There is no proven clinical benefit of infusion of plasma from young donors to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent these conditions, and there are risks associated with the use of any plasma product,” the former FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, and the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Peter Marks, said in a joint statement.

The statement didn’t call out any companies by name.

At the time, Ambrosia was one of the only companies known to offer the procedure. Its founder, Jesse Karmazin, previously told Business Insider that he was charging $8,000 for 1 liter of young blood or $12,000 for 2 liters. He also said the transfusions were safe and reliable, despite little to no hard scientific evidence demonstrating either its safety or its benefits.

In February, on the heels of the warning, Ambrosia’s website changed to read: “In compliance with the FDA announcement … we have ceased patient treatments.”

But on Monday, Karmazin told Business Insider in an email that his company was “pursuing an application” with the FDA “to continue our work.” He also said that Ambrosia was not currently offering the procedure to any customers.

In line with that statement, the Ambrosia website now says Ambrosia is “currently in discussion with the FDA on the topic of young plasma.”

Also on Monday, however, Karmazin told a potential customer that they could currently get the procedure in two cities: San Francisco, California and Tampa, Florida.

“We’ve now resumed treating patients,” one email to the potential customer read.

“We’re located in San Francisco, CA and Tampa, FL. There are two treatment options, either 1 or 2 liters, which cost $8000 and $12,000 respectively,” another email read.

A single employee and a clinical trial with no published results

Roughly three years ago, Karmazin launched Ambrosia and claimed that infusing older patients with younger blood could help conquer aging by rejuvenating the body’s organs.

Read more: A controversial startup that charges $8,000 to fill patients’ veins with young blood is opening a clinic in NYC – but researchers whose work inspired it warn that it’s dangerous

In the fall, Karmazin – who is not a licensed medical practitioner but graduated from Stanford Medical School – told Business Insider he planned to open the first Ambrosia clinic in New York City by the end of the year.

That didn’t happen. Instead, he later said, the sites where customers could get the procedure included Los Angeles; San Francisco; Tampa, Florida; Omaha, Nebraska; and Houston, Texas. At one point, Ambrosia revamped its website with a list of clinic locations and said it was accepting payments for the procedure via PayPal.

In 2017, Ambrosia enrolled people in a clinical trial designed to find out what happens when the veins of adults are filled with blood from younger people. The results of that study have not been made public.

The two-day experiment involved giving patients 1.5 liters of plasma from a donor between the ages of 16 and 25. It was conducted with David Wright, a physician who owns a private intravenous-therapy center in Monterey, California. Before and after the infusions, participants’ blood was tested for a handful of biomarkers, or measurable biological substances and processes thought to provide a snapshot of health and disease.

Trial participants paid $8,000, the same price as one of the procedures listed on Ambrosia’s website.

Young blood and anti-aging: Are there any benefits?



The science on whether infusions of young blood plasma could help fight aging remains murky at best.

In early experiments in mice, Tony Wyss-Coray, a director of the Alzheimer’s research center at Stanford University Medical School who founded a longevity startup focused on blood plasma called Alkahest, found that swapping old blood plasma for young blood plasma appeared to provide some limited cognitive benefits. The 150-year-old surgical technique he used, parabiosis, involves exchanging the blood of two living organisms.

But Alkahest’s work is very different from Ambrosia’s. Its researchers aim to develop drugs for age-related diseases that are inspired by their work with plasma; they are not looking to open a clinic.

Read more: The CEO of a startup aimed at harnessing the benefits of young blood shares his real plan to beat aging

This is a developing story. Have you received an infusion from Ambrosia or considered one? Email this reporter at ebrodwin@businessinsider.com.

Array BioPharma spikes more than 50% after Pfizer shells out $11 billion for the cancer-drug developer

Array BioPharma spikes more than 50% after Pfizer shells out $11 billion for the cancer-drug developer

Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
  • Pfizer agreed to purchase Array BioPharma for $11 billion.
  • Array Biopharma specializes in the development and commercialization of drugs to treat cancer and other high burden diseases.
  • There have been several large healthcare acquisitions in 2019 focused on drugs to treat cancer.

Array BioPharma rose more than 50% before the opening bell on Monday after Pfizer offered $11 billion to buy the biotechnology company.

Pfizer is offering $48 a share for Array, which represents around a 62% premium from its closing price on Friday. The deal is expected to be closed in the second half of 2019, and will first to appear in earnings in 2022. The merger has been approved by the boards of both companies. Pfizer’s share price remained relatively flat in pre-market trading.

Pfizer’s purchase of Array Biopharma will broaden its access to the specialized cancer drugs. Pfizer purchased Theracon, a rare-disease biotechnology company, earlier this May for $340 million.

“The proposed acquisition of Array strengthens our innovative biopharmaceutical business, is expected to enhance its long-term growth trajectory, and sets the stage to create a potentially industry leading-franchise for colorectal cancer alongside Pfizer’s existing expertise in breast and prostate cancers,” Albert Bourla, chief executive officer of Pfizer, said in a press release on Monday.

This acquisition adds to a series of notable healthcare deals in 2019. In early June, one of Pfizer’s biggest competitors, Merck, paid $773 million for Tilos Therapeutics, a privately-held biotechnology company working on new treatments for cancer.

At the start of the year, Eli Lilly & Co., paid $8 billion to acquire Loxo Oncology, a developer of highly selective medicines for cancer treatments.

Varun Kumar, an analyst Cantor Fitzgerald said the Array deal was good news for oncology companies.

“A common theme associated with these companies has been a clinically de-risked asset in late-stage trials and/or relatively well-defined commercial opportunities in a niche market,” Kumar said.

The push into cancer drugs is part of a broader strategy for Pfizer. In 2018, the pharmaceutical giant sold off billion-dollar brands like Advil, ChapStick and Emergen-Co to focus on more complex medicines like cancer drugs.

Array BioPharma is up more than 200% so far this year.

array stock price

array stock price
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