Can Sesame-based Ingredients Reduce Oxidative Stress?

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The antioxidant boosting properties of sesame, and especially sesame oil, can have a significant effect on oxidative stress, improving human health, according to a systematic review published in Journal of Medicinal Food, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Medicinal Food website until June 17, 2016.

Luciana de Almeida Vittori Gouveia and coauthors, Rio de Janeiro State University and Rio de Janeiro Federal University, Brazil, assessed the published evidence on the effects of consuming sesame-based ingredients on markers of oxidative stress in people with high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Multiple clinical trials reported increased levels of antioxidants and a reduction in oxidative stress with sesame consumption, particularly for individuals with hypertension and also with type 2 diabetes.

The article “Effects of the Intake of Sesame Seeds (Sesamm indicum L.) and Derivatives on Oxidative Stress: A Systematic Review” includes further discussion of the potential positive effects of sesame on different populations.

 “In addition to the clinical trial results reviewed in this article, preclinical studies have also shown that sesame oil is very effective in preventing atherosclerosis,” says Journal of Medicinal Food Editor-in-Chief Sampath Parthasarathy, MBA, PhD, Florida Hospital Chair in Cardiovascular Sciences and Interim Associate Dean, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida.

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Ashwagandha Benefits Thyroid and Adrenals

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If you are looking to restore your energy, look younger, and reverse disease then ashwagandha may be the herb you’re looking for. As you’re about to see, ashwagandha benefits are impressive.

Ashwagandha, is an adaptogenic herb popular in Ayurvedic medicine that has shown incredible results for lowering cortisol and balancing thyroid hormones.

In India, ashwagandha is known as the “strength of the stallion” since it has traditionally been used to strengthen the immune system after illness.

Ashwagandha has also been referred to as Indian ginseng because of its ability to enhance stamina and has extraordinary stress relieving properties.

There have been over 200 studies on Ashwagandha’s ability to:

Improve thyroid function

Treat adrenal fatigue
Reduce anxiety and depression
Combat effects of stress

Increase stamina and endurance

Prevent and treat cancer

Reduce brain cell degeneration
Stabilize blood sugar
Lower cholesterol
Boost immunity

In this article I’m going to discuss the benefits of ashwagandha in healing your thyroid, adrenal glands, improving mood and energy, preventing cancer, and supporting brain health.

Ashwagandha Thyroid Benefits

Ashwagandha is a superstar when it comes to improving the health of your thyroid.  Scientists don’t completely understand how adaptogens work, but we know that they can be extremely effective especially at balancing hormones.

One of the most incredible aspects about adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha is that it can help people with both hypo and hyper thyroid issues.  It has been shown to support a sluggish thyroid for people diagnosed with Hashimotos, and has been shown to improve the health of those with an overactive thyroid or Graves disease.

Adaptogenic herbs work with your body to bring you back into balance whether your levels are high or low.

Animal studies reveal ashwagandha has a thyroid hormone balancing effect.  In a 20 days study mice were give ashwagandha and their T3 and T4 levels were analyzed along with lipid peroxidation (anti-oxidant protection).  Significant increases in serum T4 were found which indicates this herb has a stimulatory effect on a sluggish thyroid.

Also, ashwagandha may benefit thyroid function because it greatly reduced lipid peroxidation by promoting scavenging of free radicals that cause cellular damage.  These results prove ashwagandha can be useful in treating hypothyroidism.

There are currently millions of people who struggle with thyroid problems (many who don’t even know it) and ashwagandha may just be the solution they are searching for.

Ashwagandha Adrenal Rejuvenation

Ashwagandha has also been proven effective in supporting adrenal function helping you overcome adrenal fatigue and chronic stress.

Your adrenal glands are endocrine glands that are responsible for releasing hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) in response to stress on your body.

If your adrenals are overtaxed due to an overabundance of emotional, physical and mental stress, it can lead to a condition known as adrenal fatigue. As you can see from this chart below, if your adrenals become exhausted it can also disrupt your other hormones, including progesterone, which can cause infertility and lower DHEA — which can cause you to age faster.

Medical studies have shown that ashwagandha improves cortisol levels, improves insulin sensitivity and naturally balances hormones. A case study reported a case of a 57-year-old woman with non-classical adrenal hyperplasia. She was treated with ashwagandha for six months, and after her treatment she saw improvements in four adrenal hormone markers, including corticoosterone and 11-deoxycortisol, which decreased by 69 percent and 55 percent respectively — a major improvement!

This hormonal improvement was also accompanied by a noticeable reduction in hair loss.

Benefits Brain Health

Emotional, physical, and chemical stress can all have damaging effects to the brain and nervous system.  Recent research has proven ashwagandha is more than a stress reliever, it also protects the brain from degeneration and improves symptoms of alzheimer’s, depression, and anxiety.

One of the main reasons ashwagandha is so effective at healing the brain has to do with its powerful antioxidants that destroy free radicals that cause aging. A study published inPhytotherapy Research explains these benefits:

Several studies have revealed that natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene, may help in scavenging free radicals generated during the initiation and progression of this [Alzheimer’s] disease.  But we found Ashwagandha afforded lipid peroxidation inhibitory effects more potent than commercial antioxidants.

Researchers at the National Brain Research Centre found that mice with Alzheimer’s were unable to retain what they learned, but after 20 days of supplementing with ashwagandha, this improved significantly. The results of the study found a reduction in amyloid plaques (these cause degradation of the brain).

Improves Mood

There is also now evidence that ashwagandha is effective at treating both anxiety and depression.  In fact, in a recent study its results were comparable to common pharmaceutical drugs lorazepam and imipramine without the side effects.

In the 12-week controlled study, 87 participants with anxiety were given 300mg of ashwagandha two times a day or two placebo pills two times per day.  The group treated with ashwagandha resulted in much greater improvements in anxiety as well as focus, reduced stress, and decreased fatigue than the placebo group.

The other major benefit of ashwagandha is that there are no adverse reactions by taking it compared to anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications which can have terrible side effects.

Prevents and Treats Cancer

Ashwagandha extract has been shown in studies to have very promising benefits when it comes to helping with preventing and treating cancer. In certain studies, researchers have found that ashwagandha extract has a powerful anti-tumor effect. (1)

The extract has been shown to help inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells – specifically breast, lung, stomach, and colon cancer cells which are among some of the leading types of cancers in the world. It’s believed that ashwagandha helps to prevent the growth of cancer cells mostly due to its immune boosting and antioxidant abilities. Supplementing with ashwagandha is correlated with an increase in white blood cells within the body, which indicate that the immune system is better able to protect the body from disease and harmful invaders (2).  Another way that ashwagnadha helps prevent cancer is due to its ability to stop blood vessels around cancer cells from feeding into the growth of cancerous tumors.

In addition to preventing cancer cells from growing, studies have shown that ashwagandha can be a very useful addition to chemotherapy in treating existing cancer. Taking the extract seems to be effective in halting the immune system from becoming suppressed during chemotherapy.

Ashawagandha is able to counteract one of the biggest concerns with chemotherapy- the count of white blood cells in the body becoming lowered, which puts cancer patients as much higher risk for things like infection. Many cancer experts are now recommending ashwagandha extract be both a cancer prevention method as well as an addition to typical cancer treatments. In fact some studies have shown that some patients are even able to reverse signs of cancer using ashwagandha alone over other standard treatment methods (3).

Increases Stamina and Endurance

Studies have shown that ahswagandha can boost endurance during physical activity by sharpening brain function and reducing bodily pain. Due to its positive calming, yet energizing, effects on the brain and ability to lower stress hormones, ashwaganha showed improvements in concentration, motivation, and stamina in conducted studies.

One particular study found that when lab rats were given ashwagandha, they actually were able to swim twice as long compared to the same type of rats that were not given the supplements (4). Researchers believe that similar effects take place in humans due to the extract’s ability to balance adrenal hormones that are involved in physical activity. The extract was also shown to reduce bodily pain in the muscles and joints while at the same time keeping energy levels more steady, which is another reason why it could be a promising supplement for athletes, or for those who find it difficult to be physically active due to pain.

Ashwagandha Dosage

As you can see, ashwagandha is an adaptogenic superstar that can have some tremendous health benefits.  I recommend supplementing with 500mg 1-2x daily along with following a diet high in healthy fats, protein, and fiber as well as removing grains and sugars from your diet.

These dietary changes along with supplementing with ashwagandha can help you see great results in aging slower, reducing stress, balancing hormones, boosting energy, and improving neurological health.


Puri, Harbans Singh. Rasayana: ayurvedic herbs for longevity and rejuvenation – Volume 2 of Traditional herbal medicines for modern times. s.l.: CRC Press, 2002. ISBN 0415284899, 9780415284899.

Panda S, Kar A. Withania somnifera and Bauhinia purpurea in the regulation of circulating thyroid hormone concentrations in female mice.  Journal Ethnopharmacology 1999, 67(2):233-9.

Panda S, Kar A. Changes in thyroid hormone concentrations after administration of ashwaganda root extract to adult male mice. Journal of Pharmacology 1998, 50:1065-1068.

Kalani A, Bahtiyar G, Sacerdote A.  Ashwagandha root in the treatment of non-classical adrenal hyperplasia. British Medical Journal Case Reports 2012, 10(1136).

Gupta SK, Dua A, Vohra BP. Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) attenuates antioxidant defense in aged spinal cord and inhibits copper induced lipid peroxidation and protein oxidative modifications. Drug Metabolism Drug Interactions. 2003;19(3):211-22

Jayaprakasam B, Padmanabhan K, Nair MG. Withanamides in Withania somnifera fruit protect PC-12 cells from beta-amyloid responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. Phytotherapy Research. 2010, 24(6):859-63

Cooley K, Szczurko O, Mills Edward, Bernhardt B, Seely D (2009). Naturopathic Care for Anxiety.

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What foods can help fight the risk of chronic inflammation?

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A new study by the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease has identified food stuffs that can help prevent chronic inflammation that contributes to many leading causes of death.

Inflammation occurs naturally in the body but when it goes wrong or goes on too long, it can trigger disease processes. Uncontrolled inflammation plays a role in many major diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables, which contain polyphenols, protect against age-related inflammation and chronic diseases.

Cell-to-cell communication

Polyphenols are abundant micronutrients in our diet, and evidence for their role in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases is already emerging. The health effects of polyphenols depend on the amount consumed and on their bioavailability.

T-cells, or T-lymphocytes, are a type of white blood cell that circulate around our bodies, scanning for cellular abnormalities and infections. They contribute to cell signalling molecules (cytokines) that aid cell-to-cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma. Cytokines are modulated by fruit and vegetable intake.

Little is known about the relative potency of different (poly)phenols in modulating cytokine release by lymphocytes.

Pro-inflammatory mediators

The study, conducted by Sian Richardson and Dr Chris Ford from the University’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, examined the different potencies of the polyphenols.

Sian Richardson, said: “The results of our study suggest that (poly)phenols derived from onions, turmeric, red grapes, green tea and açai berries may help reduce the release of pro-inflammatory mediators in people at risk of chronic inflammation.

“Older people are more susceptible to chronic inflammation and as such they may benefit from supplementing their diets with isorhamnetin, resveratrol, curcumin and vanillic acid or with food sources that yield these bioactive molecules.”

The study, entitled ‘Identification of (poly)phenol treatments that modulates the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines by human lymphocytes’, has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition and can be found here

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No Evidence of TRT Link to Prostate Cancer

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Examination of a national health database failed to find a relationship between testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and prostate cancer risk. In fact, over the long term, a reduction in the risk of aggressive prostate cancer was observed in men treated with TRT, similar to previous observations.

The analysis uncovered a halving of the risk of aggressive prostate cancer with TRT when used for more than 1 year compared with controls. The findings were presented by Stacy Loeb, MD, from the New York University Langone Cancer Center, New York City, at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Urological Association.

The study population consisted of 38,570 prostate cancer cases diagnosed between 2009 and 2012 from the National Prostate Cancer Register of Sweden. Serving as controls were 192,838 men matched on birth year and place of residence. These databases were linked to the Prescribed Drug Register of Sweden, which allowed the researchers to obtain information on the type, dose, and duration of TRT.

Of the 38,570 prostate cancer cases, 284 had used testosterone at some point before their prostate cancer diagnosis. Of the men with prostate cancer, 59% had favorable disease and 38% had aggressive disease. Of the 192,838 controls, 1,378 had used testosterone. The median age was 69 years in both groups.

No association was found between TRT and the overall risk of prostate cancer when adjusted for comorbidity, marital status, and level of education.

“The type of testosterone didn’t matter,” said Loeb. “We looked at whether they used gel, injections, or other types, and there was no difference in prostate cancer risk based on the mode of administration.”

When examined by risk group, TRT users had an increased risk of being diagnosed with favorable prostate cancer (OR 1.35, 95% CI 1.16-1.56). The greatest risk of being diagnosed with favorable disease occurred within the first year of TRT use, which suggests detection bias, she said, since guidelines in Sweden recommend enhanced screening for prostate cancer during the first year of TRT use.

TRT was associated with a 50% reduction in the risk of aggressive prostate cancer, “and this became much stronger and significant in long-term use,” similar to the findings in other series, she said.

Speculating on the mechanism behind the large reduction in risk of aggressive disease with long-term TRT use, Loeb pointed to a large body of literature that suggests that hypogonadal men have more aggressive disease. Activation of prostate tumor-promoting pathways and genetic changes have been observed in a low testosterone environment, she said.

“We hypothesize that for these men, restoring them back to normal testosterone levels may mitigate the risk of what seems to be a more aggressive phenotype of tumors developing in a low testosterone environment.”

Ahmad Haider, MD, a urology and andrology specialist in Bremerhaven, Germany, and colleagues also found that TRT in hypogonadal men does not increase the risk of prostate cancer. His group looked at registry data from 656 symptomatic hypogonadal men (total testosterone levels ≤348 ng/dL) with a mean age of 61 years. Some 360 men received parenteral testosterone undecanoate, dosed at 1,000 mg/12 weeks following an initial 6-week interval, for up to 10 years. The other 296 men who opted against TRT served as controls.

Both groups were followed for a mean of 78.0 months. The proportion diagnosed with prostate cancer over this time was 1.9% in the TRT group and 4.1% in the controls. The incidence of prostate cancer per 10,000 patient years was found to be 31 in the TRT group compared with 64 in controls. Of those in the TRT group who developed prostate cancer, 100% had a Gleason score ≤3, compared with only 25% of the controls, again suggesting a more severe phenotype without TRT. Two-thirds of untreated controls who had prostate cancer had Gleason 4 disease, and 42% had positive surgical margin, noted Haider.

“Hypogonadism by itself may increase the rate of high-grade prostate cancer.”

A third study confirmed the lack of relationship between TRT and incident prostate cancer in hypogonadal men, this one an analysis of U.S. veterans reported by Thomas J. Walsh, MD, at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Almost 15,000 U.S. veterans with laboratory-defined low testosterone formed the study population. Some 40% of the men received either intramuscular TRT, topical TRT, or both. Sixty percent received no testosterone treatment. The median follow-up for the entire cohort was 3 years.

About 1% of the men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and of these, 22% were aggressive cancers. The incidence of all prostate cancer per 1,000 person-years was 2.52 in the men treated with TRT and 2.78 in those not treated.

The adjusted risk of all prostate cancer was not significantly different between treated and untreated men (HR 0.90, 95% CI 0.81-1.10), and neither was the risk of aggressive prostate cancer (HR 0.89, 95% CI 0.70-1.13). The results did not change significantly when assessing TRT by the formulation of testosterone.

“I would not look at this and say there is a protective effect of testosterone,” said Walsh. “I think there is evidence for absence of risk, but I would not call this evidence of protection.”

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Studies Demonstrate Protective Effects of Testosterone in Hypogonadal Men

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Maintaining healthy levels of testosterone (T) may decrease a man’s risk of developing not only prostate cancer, but also other metabolic conditions, according to new research being presented at the 111th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA). These data, which review the use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in men with clinically proven low T, were shared with media during a special press conference on Saturday, May 7 at 7:30 a.m. (PT), moderated by Dr. Stacy Loeb, a member of the AUA Public Media Committee.

Relationship of Testosterone Treatment and Incident Prostate Cancer Risk Among U.S. Veterans with Low Serum Testosterone (Abstract MP04-04): Testosterone treatment was not associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer diagnosis, according to researchers at the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System in Seattle. Researchers reviewed data on a cohort of 157,312 veterans with clinically confirmed low testosterone, and found that, among the 60,359 who received TRT (via transdermal application or intramuscular injection), prostate cancer incidence rate per 1,000 was 2.27, compared to 2.6 in men who had never received testosterone replacement.

Prostate Cancer is Less Frequent and Severe in Hypogonadal Men Treated Adequately with Testosterone Undecanoate Injections for up to 8 Years Compared to Untreated Hypogonadal Controls (Abstract PD09-04): TRT in hypogonadal men may provide a protective effect against not only prostate cancer, but also high-grade disease, according to a new registry study from researchers in the United States and Germany. Comparing data from 360 men who were treated with testosterone to a control group of 296 men who were not treated, researchers found that, despite an initial increase in prostate volume and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in the treatment group, seven cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the treatment group (incidence: 30.5 per 10,000) compared 12 cases in the control group (incidence: 63.54 per 10,000). The hypogonadal men treatedwith testosterone had lower grade tumors, with a predominant Gleason 3 with negative surgical margins and no lymph node involvement.

Cardiovascular Events and Prostate Cancer Diagnoses in Men Treated with Testosterone Replacement Therapy (Abstract PD50-03): TRT may decrease risk for prostate cancer diagnoses, cardiovascular (CV) events and overall mortality, and this reduction in risk could be dose-responsive. Toronto researchers examined a cohort of men aged 66 and older with low T who were treated between 2007 and 2012 in Ontario and found that, when compared to controls, patients with the lowest cumulative dose exposure had higher risks for CV events (including myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accidents and venous thromboembolism) and overall mortality, and that patients with the highest dose exposure had decreased risks for prostate cancer diagnosis, CV events and overall mortality.

Testosterone Therapy and Prostate Cancer Risk (Abstract PI LBA 03): Men being treated with TRT were more likely to present with favorable-risk prostate cancer and a lower risk of aggressive disease when compared to men who did not supplement, according to an analysis of data from the National Prostate Cancer Register (NPCR) and the Prescribed Drug Register in Sweden. Researchers in Sweden and New York reviewed prostate cancer cases in men on TRT therapy and found no significant association between use of TRT and overall prostate cancer risk, but observed an increased risk of favorable risk disease within the first year of TRT (possibly due to detection bias) as well as a lower risk for aggressive disease after more than one year of TRT use.

Effects of Testosterone Replacement Therapy on Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (Abstract PD22-04): Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) do not necessarily worsen in men with late-onset hypogonadism being treated with TRT, according to a multi-institutional study from researchers in Houston, Boston and Miami. Using a review of literature published between 1977 and 2015 in the MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Library databases, data from 14 randomized, controlled trials involving 2,029 participants was analyzed to assess International Prostate Symptom Scores (IPSS) in hypogonadal men. Data review showed that IPSS scores were similar in those men with low T who received TRT and those with untreated low T.

“These studies all provide evidence for potential protective effects of testosterone therapy in men with clinically diagnosed low testosterone and underscore the importance of maintaining healthy levels of this hormone,” said Dr. Loeb. “At the same time, another key message here is that there may be real risks to letting hypogonadism go untreated.”

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Has HDL, the “Good” Cholesterol Been Hyped?

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For years, physicians have told patients that HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) helps protect them from cardiovascular disease (CVD). And the higher the number, the more the protection. HDL, often considered an independent predictor of heart disease, has been dubbed the “good” cholesterol, thanks to its protective effects. But a new study shows for the first time that HDL’s protection depends on the levels of two other blood fats or lipids associated with heart disease. If these fats are not within normal ranges, even a high HDL may not be protective.

The new research analyzes nearly 25 years of data from the Framingham Heart Study’s Offspring Cohort. It focuses on the roles HDL, LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and triglycerides (TG) play in increasing or decreasing the risk of heart disease. The study, published online in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, followed 3,590 men and women without known cardiovascular disease between 1987 and 2011.

“There’s no question that HDL does have a protective role, as we also confirm in the study, but HDL has been hyped-up,” says senior author Michael Miller, MD, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and preventive cardiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “HDL really should be viewed as a third priority, with LDL on top and TG second.”

The questions:

• Can the level of HDL by itself determine the risk of a person developing heart disease?
• What happens to the risk if LDL and TG are abnormal?

The method:

• The researchers looked at study participants with both low and high HDL levels, and
• Those who also had normal and high levels of LDL and TG.

“Nobody has really looked at an isolated low and isolated high HDL, and whether or not other factors, such as triglycerides and LDL, make a difference in the risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Miller.

The conclusions:

• HDL was not uniformly predictive of cardiovascular risk
• TG and LDL modified the incidence of CVD in both low- and high-level HDL
• Compared with isolated low HDL, the CVD risk was 30-60 percent higher in the presence of high levels of LDL, TG or both
• High HDL was not associated with reduced CVD risk if TG and LDL were above 100 mg/dL

Bartlett J, Predazzi IM, Williams SM, Bush, WS, Kim Y, Havas S, Toth PP, Fazio S, Miller M. “Is isolated low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol a cardiovascular disease risk factor? New insights from the Framingham Offspring Study.” Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Online: May 10, 2016. doi: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.115.002436

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Retiring After 65 May Help People Live Longer

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Retiring after age 65 may help people live longer, says a study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The risk of dying from any cause over the study period was 11% lower among people who delayed retirement for one year—until age 66—and fell further among people who retired between the ages of 66 and 72, the study found.

Even workers who retired for health reasons had a lower risk of dying, compared with those leaving work at 65.

The benefits of remaining in the workforce occurred irrespective of gender, lifestyle, education, income and occupation, the analysis showed.

Postponing retirement may delay the natural age-related decline in physical, cognitive and mental functioning, reducing the risk of chronic illness, the study suggests. Mandatory retirement in the U.S. was abolished in 1986 except in certain professions, such as airline pilots and judges.

Researchers at Oregon State University analyzed data from 2,956 people who were employed at the start of a larger study in 1992 and fully retired at its conclusion in 2010. Retirement age ranged from 55 to 77 years old. Of the subjects, 33% retired at age 66 or older, 12% at age 65 and 55% before 65. Just over a third cited health reasons for retiring.

Over approximately 18 years of follow-up, 12.1% of healthy and 25.6% of unhealthy retirees died. Compared with retiring at age 65, workers who retired in good health at age 67 had a 21% lower risk of dying. By age 70, the risk was 44% lower, and at age 72 it was 56% lower.

For workers with health issues, the risk of dying was 9% lower if they retired at age 66, 17% lower at 67, 38% lower at 70 and 48% lower at 72.

Caveat: The analysis only included subjects born between 1931 and 1941.

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