WTF Fun Fact 13663 – Dog Longevity Drug

For dog lovers, the prospect of a dog longevity drug sounds fantastic. Who doesn’t want their furry friends to live longer, healthier lives?

Recent developments from a San Francisco-based biotech company, Loyal, bring this dream closer to reality. They’ve announced an anti-aging drug for dogs that has cleared its first hurdle for FDA approval. This marks a pivotal moment in veterinary medicine, as it’s the first time the FDA has shown openness to endorsing longevity drugs for pets.

Dog Longevity Drug Holds Promise of Longer Lives for Man’s Best Friend

Loyal’s groundbreaking drug, LOY-001, targets a growth and metabolism hormone called IGF-1. This hormone, linked with size, appears in higher levels in larger dogs and lower in smaller ones. Studies on other species suggest inhibiting IGF-1 can increase lifespans. LOY-001 is aimed at healthy dogs over seven years old and weighing more than 40 pounds. Administered every three to six months by a vet, it holds the potential to slow down the aging process in dogs.

Parallel to this, Loyal is developing LOY-003, a daily pill form of the treatment. CEO Celine Halioua emphasizes that they’re not creating immortal dogs. The goal is to slow their rate of aging, thus maintaining a healthier state for a longer period.

As promising as these developments are, they raise significant ethical questions, particularly concerning the quality of extended life for these animals. Veterinarian Kate Creevy, involved in a similar trial for an anti-aging drug called rapamycin, stresses the importance of ensuring that any extended lifespan is accompanied by good health and quality of life.

Moreover, the human manipulation of dogs through selective breeding, which may have contributed to accelerated aging in larger breeds, underlines the ethical complexities in altering canine aging processes.

Trials and the Future of Canine Health

Loyal plans to start a large clinical trial for LOY-001 with around 1,000 large and giant dogs by either 2024 or 2025. The ultimate aim is to have a market-ready product by 2026. This trial not only represents a major step in veterinary medicine but also opens doors to understanding aging in more complex organisms like humans.

The success of Loyal’s drug could potentially revolutionize how we approach canine health and aging. It offers a glimpse into a future where our canine companions can enjoy longer, healthier lives alongside us. However, it’s crucial to balance this scientific advancement with ethical considerations to ensure the well-being of these beloved animals.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “A New Drug That Could Extend Dogs’ Lives Inches Closer to Approval” — Smithsonian Magazine

WTF Fun Fact 13491 – Loneliness Kills

We can all think of a long list of stuff that’s bad for our health – but did you know loneliness kills as well?

Loneliness Kills in the Age of Connectivity

The dangers of smoking have been widely acknowledged and documented for years. From lung cancer to heart diseases, the repercussions of this habit are severe. Yet, there’s another rising health concern that many might not associate with physical harm: loneliness. Recent studies are revealing that the health risks of prolonged isolation might be as detrimental as smoking.

Ironically, we live in an era termed the “age of connectivity.” Technology has bridged continents, enabling face-to-face conversations without the need for physical proximity. Yet, as we increasingly immerse ourselves in the digital world, it seems we’re drifting apart in the real one. This paradox is contributing to what experts now call an “epidemic of loneliness.”

Loneliness vs. Being Alone

It’s vital to understand that loneliness and being alone aren’t synonymous. One can feel lonely in a crowded room, while another might cherish solitude without feeling isolated. Loneliness is the subjective feeling of being isolated, regardless of the actual social situation.

Loneliness does not merely affect mental well-being; it has severe physical repercussions. Just like smoking, prolonged feelings of isolation can lead to an array of health complications:

  1. Cardiovascular Issues: Loneliness can increase the risk of heart diseases. A lack of social connection has been found to be a significant factor in heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events.
  2. Reduced Immune Function: Chronic loneliness might diminish the immune system’s efficiency, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses.
  3. Higher Blood Pressure: There’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that lonely individuals might have higher blood pressure than their more socially-connected counterparts.
  4. Shortened Life Expectancy: Perhaps the most alarming revelation is that loneliness can shorten one’s lifespan. It’s on par with other well-established risk factors like obesity and smoking.

The Role of Dopamine

The human brain operates on rewards. Dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter, plays a crucial role in this. When we engage in social interactions, our brain rewards us with dopamine. This encourages us to seek more interactions, fostering bonds and relationships.

When isolated, our dopamine levels can plummet. This can initiate a vicious cycle where the lack of dopamine makes us less inclined to seek out interactions, further exacerbating feelings of loneliness. The pleasure we derive from screens, though momentarily boosting dopamine, lacks the depth and warmth of genuine human connection, often leaving us feeling emptier.

The Modern Loneliness Epidemic

A report by Cigna, a global health service company, emphasized the modern loneliness epidemic, especially in the United States. The findings suggest that most Americans are classified as lonely. Younger generations seem to be at higher risk, which is surprising given their tech-savviness and online connectivity.

Factors contributing to this epidemic include increased screen time, decreased face-to-face social interactions, and the cultural shift towards individualism. The structure of modern life, where both family units and communities are less tight-knit than in previous generations, further fuels the crisis.

Tips for Combatting Loneliness

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Recognizing loneliness as a genuine health concern is the first step in addressing it. Here are some strategies to combat this silent epidemic:

  1. Community Engagement: Engage in community activities. Joining clubs, organizations, or even group fitness classes can foster new connections.
  2. Digital Detox: Allocate specific times in the day to disconnect from digital devices. Use this time to engage in hobbies, read, or take nature walks.
  3. Seek Professional Help: Just as one would consult a doctor for a persistent cough, seeking therapy for chronic loneliness is vital.
  4. Volunteer: Volunteering can provide a dual benefit. It can reduce feelings of isolation while giving individuals a sense of purpose.
  5. Pet Companionship: Animals, especially dogs and cats, can offer comfort and reduce feelings of isolation.
  6. Establish a Routine: Having a daily routine can provide structure, reducing feelings of aimlessness, which can compound loneliness.

Loneliness Kills: Don’t Let It Ruin Your Life

In an age where we can reach out to someone thousands of miles away with a click, it’s paradoxical to witness a surge in loneliness. Recognizing and understanding its profound effects on our physical and mental health is crucial. As with all health risks, prevention and early intervention are key. We must prioritize genuine human connections, value our well-being, and remember that our health encompasses not just our bodies, but our minds and souls as well.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Loneliness Is as Lethal As Smoking 15 Cigarettes Per Day. Here’s What You Can Do About It” — Inc.

WTF Fun Fact 13483 – Lifespan of a Cat Increasing

The average lifespan of a cat (well, an indoor cat) is around 12 to 15 years, but many cats now can live to be 20. These numbers seem to be trending upward. (Although we have to admit that we haven’t seen this confirmed by researchers anywhere – the evidence appears to be anecdotal).

Factors Influencing the Lifespan of a Cat

Today’s cats appear to be living longer, healthier lives. This is aided by advancements in veterinary medicine and growing awareness about the importance of preventive care.

From lifestyle choices to genetics, every aspect has an influence on how long our fur-buddies can thrive. The following are some of the most significant contributors:

Indoor Versus Outdoor Cats

Like humans, cats’ lifestyles profoundly affect their longevity. It’s no secret that indoor cats tend to live longer than their outdoor counterparts. They are shielded from various risks like diseases, accidents, predators, and harsh weather

The protected environment ensures they enjoy a higher average lifespan, usually about 15-20 years. In stark contrast, outdoor cats face myriad threats that can often cut their lifespan to just 2-5 years.

Preventive Care

Preventive care, like routine check-ups, vaccinations, and flea and tick preventatives, plays a key role in cat longevity. Regular veterinary examinations can help detect potential health problems early, improving the odds of successful treatment.

Early diagnosis and treatment can be life-saving, especially for chronic conditions like kidney disease, common in cats.

Diet and Weight Management

Another significant factor influencing cat lifespan is diet and weight management. Proper nutrition is crucial for the overall well-being of cats. A balanced diet containing all necessary nutrients contributes to longevity.

On the other hand, obesity is a severe issue that can lead to various health problems like diabetes, arthritis, and heart diseases, reducing a cat’s lifespan.

This is starting to sound a lot like people…or any other living thing, really. Don’t play in the road, eat healthy, get exercise, see a doctor when you’re sick…

Genetics and Breeds

Genetics and specific breed characteristics can influence how long a cat lives.

Some breeds are prone to specific health conditions that can affect their lifespan, while others are generally known for their longevity. For instance, Siamese and Maine Coon cats often live well into their teens, with many reaching their early 20s.

The Lifespan of the Oldest Cat

Now, all of this talk of health might have you thinking that it’s the only way to live a healthy life. But let’s think about humans for a moment. Ever read an interview with someone over 100 who insists the secret is bacon or cigarettes or something? Some of this is just random.

The oldest cat on record, Creme Puff, was well-cared for though. She was an astonishing 38 years and 3 days at her death. Her owner also owned the previous oldest living cat! The secret? Some things you really aren’t supposed to give a cat – like caffeine. The diet fed to these cats was largely commercial cat food with some eggs, turkey bacon, broccoli, coffee with creme, and an eye dropper of ref wine every two days!

Don’t try that at home, but maybe do take the owner’s advice to play with your cat as much as possible if you want them to live a long and active life.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “These Are The Signs That Your Cat Will Probably Live a Long Life” — ScienceAlert

WTF Fun Fact 12985 – World’s Oldest Siblings (Combined Age)

Twelve siblings in Spain’s Gran Canaria (in the Canary Islands) have been granted the new record for their combined age. The world’s oldest siblings (in terms of combined age) were 1,058 years and 249 days old as of the moment their record was confirmed.

That’s A LOT of family reunions.

Earning the record for oldest siblings

The family said in a statement that “It all started as a joke during a family reunion in June. Then, after seeing a newspaper article titled ’12 siblings count more than 1000 years,’ we started gathering information and reached out to Guinness World Records.”

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Hernández-Pérez family lives in the town of Moya, on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain. lives a very special family.

Their record is for the highest combined age of 12 living siblings, and they surpassed the previous group by a whopping 16 years!

The Hernández-Pérez siblings had been around for a total of 1,058 years 249 days as of September 28, 2022.

One big, happy family

Parents Modesto Hernández and Martina Pérez raised their family in Moya, and all 12 children have spent their entire lives there. Their seven sons and five daughters range in age from 76 and 98 years old.

The siblings are spaced pretty evenly apart:

Jose (b. 1924)
Alejandro (b. 1926)
Carmen (b. 1928)
Juan (b. 1929)
Rosario (b. 1930)
Amanda (b. 1932)
Modesto (b. 1934)
Angela (b. 1936)
Francisco (b. 1938)
Gloria (b. 1941)
Miguel (b. 1943) 
Luis (b. 1946)

The siblings’ ages have been confirmed and notarized by a local official.

Family pride

According to the Guinness Book of World Records (cited below): “The family is always talking about the record in their group chat, or sharing anecdotes on the record. The accolade had a positive impact on their lives, and further cemented their bond.

They believe their city is better for having so many large and long-lived family units.

“…other than the great pride and joy that the family found in breaking a world record, they also hope that it will be ‘a recognition and homage for all those families in our city (and, more in general, in the island) that counted 8 or more siblings. Those families fought and sacrificed a lot to improve our present society and life,’ they said.”

Their memories obviously go back to many decades, and life has changed dramatically over their livetimes:

“Among the difficulties of the 30s, 40s and 50s, there was no technology, no public transport and very few doctors,” the siblings recalled. “We had to walk several miles for food and school, and always by foot.”

The siblings recalled working in the fields, helping out in the neighborhood, the home births of their siblings, and plenty of parties during which each child played an instrument for entertainment.

The D’Cruz family of Pakistan previously held the record for combined sibling age. WTF fun facts

Source: “12 siblings break record with a combined age of 1,058 years” — Guinness Book of World Records

WTF Fun Fact 12897 – The World’s Oldest Cat

The world’s oldest cat was named Creme Puff – and the furry girl held on until age 38! It’s all been confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records.

The story of Creme Puff

Creme Puff was owned by Jake Perry, who can safely be called a legendary cat owner (as well as a husband, father to humans, and plumber). He also adopted and found homes for hundreds of cats over his lifetime. But even more stunning is that Perry had been the owner of the previous record-holder for longest-lived cat before Creme Puff came along!

That cat, Granpa Rexs Allen was part sphynx and part Devon Rex mix, and he lived to age 34.

Creme Puff was a mixed tabby cat.

What’s Perry’s secret to cat longevity?

As you might imagine, Perry treated all of his cats as they so richly deserved. He built a theater in his garage that played nature documentaries for his cats to watch. He remembered and celebrated their birthdays every year (which, if you think about it, is A LOT of birthdays). Perry even had steps built all over the walls of his house so his cats would have things to climb on to stay engaged and stimulated.

Most importantly, he insisted that a loving relationship is the secret to cat longevity.

The diet Perry fed his cats is more questionable (or is it, since 1/3rd of the cats he’s owned have lived to be 30?). According to Atlas Obscura (cited below, with an excellent story on Perry) the cats’ daily diet had a few extra fixins’ on top of dry commercial cat food, including “a home-cooked breakfast of eggs, turkey bacon, broccoli, coffee with cream, and—every two days—about an eyedropper full of red wine to ‘circulate the arteries.'” (Note, caffeine and alcohol are not recommended for cats, nor is that much human food, so there much be some other secret – or it all goes together in some perfect feline-friendly way.)

Perry’s vet of choice is Bruce Hardesty, the owner of South Congress Veterinary Clinic in Austin, Texas. He’s seen 40 or 50 cats Perry has owned over the years. He believes at least 6 of Perry’s cats have reached age 30.  WTF fun facts

Source: “How to Raise a 165-Year-Old Cat” — Atlas Obscura

WTF Fun Fact 12797 – Fathers With Daughters Tend to Live Longer

You may find it interesting to know that a few different studies conducted around the world have found that parents tend to have a longer life expectancy than non-parents. If you’re currently raising a small child, that may seem unlikely, but the statistics are in your favor! And if you’re a father with daughters, you’re double lucky.

Studying parental longevity

None of these studies can prove causation. That is, there is no way to prove that daughters directly cause their fathers to have longer lives. These are studies of correlation. And we all know that phrase correlation is not causation. So if you have ten sons or no children at all, have no fear.

Ok, so what do the studies say? Here’s a taste:

One of the most oft-cited studies is this one, which looked at rural families in Poland. The researchers stated that despite reproduction being such a physical and energic drain on people, dads with daughters tended to live longer (but moms don’t).

Fathers with daughters tend to live longer

They say:

“We show for the first time that number of daughters was positively related to a longer life span of their fathers, increasing their longevity on average by 74 weeks per daughter born, while number of sons did not have a significant effect on paternal longevity.”

In a separate study, the researchers posit that “Having a daughter has been shown to be associated with increased chances of regular social contact and with receiving help if needed, something that we hypothesize becomes more important later in life.”

Not all studies agree

However, the same researchers also point out that not all studies have found a correlation between child genre and parental longevity:

“The role of daughters versus sons for parental mortality has been the topic of a few previous studies, but the results are inconsistent. Some studies found no association with the gender of the child while other found that daughters are more favourable, sometimes for fathers only. In a study on Swedish data, the protective effect of having a daughter was detected only among one-child parents, but not for parents with several children, which is in line with a Norwegian study.”

In the end, it appears that longevity may have a lot to do with social ties and having a community around you, which parents are more likely to have in order to socialize their children. One of the reasons fathers with daughters may live longer is that “older childless individuals, particularly men, appear to have less social interactions than older parents and there is evidence that having a daughter is associated with increased chances of regular social contacts and with receiving help if needed.”

However, this same study “found some support for the difference between mothers and fathers, but no support for the hypothesis regarding a beneficial effect of a daughter.”

So the jury’s still out!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Daughters increase longevity of fathers, but daughters and sons equally reduce longevity of mothers” — American Journal of Human Biology

WTF Fun Fact 12743 – Laughter is the Best Medicine

We’ve always had lots of anecdotal evidence that “laughter is the best medicine” and studies have shown correlations between laughter and happiness and laughter and better life satisfaction. But in 2005, the first study showed some of the physiological effects laughter has on the body’s cardiovascular system.

So when you say “laughter is the best medicine” to someone and they roll their eyes, you can now hit them with some facts (unless you’re at a funeral or something, then wait a few weeks, please).

The first study

The results of the study were first presented at the Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology, on March 7, 2005 by researchers from the University of Maryland. It kicked off a whole slew of studies backing up the evidence and providing yet more clues that you can laugh your way into old age.

But first, let’s see how this works. The first study used movies to look at the immediate effects of laughter on subjects’ endothelium – the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels and that dilates or expands during blood flow. (And if it’s been a while since you’ve had a biology class, the better blood flows around your body – and to your heart – the more oxygen and other vital molecules get where they need to be.)

The approach

There were two groups of subjects – one watched a movie clip known to cause mental distress (for example, scenes from Saving Private Ryan – a great film, but not exactly a “cinematic joy ride,” aka it’s sad). The other group watched scenes from funny movies (one example was King Pin, which we have never seen, but we’ll trust that the researchers found a good clip).

Ok, so the goal was really just to make one group laugh and the other get kind of mired in sadness and then measure their blood flow. And you can probably see where this is going.

The results

The distressed group’s blood vessels showed an unhealthy physiological response of the blood vessels called vasoconstriction (a narrowing of the vessels that impedes blood flow). That had been suggested by many other studies before – when we’re stressed, our blood vessels constrict. Not good.

On the other hand, those who laughed showed great blood flow. That’s good. But it’s not just good in the moment, it’s good in the long term because the endothelium helps tone our blood vessels, adjust coagulation rates, and secretes chemicals that help heal wounds and respond to infections.

The researcher’s commentary

In an interview about the study, the lead investigator Michael Miller, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center said: “The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, so, given the results of our study, it is conceivable that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. At the very least, laughter offsets the impact of mental stress, which is harmful to the endothelium.”

The impact of laughter was so strong that they compared it to the benefits one may get from exercise (thought warned against trying to replace exercise with laughter).

“The magnitude of change we saw in the endothelium is similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic activity, but without the aches, pains and muscle tension associated with exercise,” Miller said. “We don’t recommend that you laugh and not exercise, but we do recommend that you try to laugh on a regular basis. Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system.”

Further evidence

Since 2005, there have been many studies that show laughter is good for health, including:

  • A study of older Japanese people which found that those who laughed more had fewer heart attacks and stroked.
  • A 2020 study showing that overall mortality, as well as cardiovascular disease, were significantly higher among subjects with a low frequency of laughter.
  • A review essay noting that “many kinds of studies, using different methods, conclude that happiness has a positive causal effect on longevity and physiological health.”

So, ask your doctor today about what a funny movie or a night out with fun friends can do for you. And if they look at you funny, just tell them you read that laughter is the best medicine on the internet. They love hearing that. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Laughter Helps Blood Vessels Function Better” — Science Daily