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Muscles Linked to Longer Life, Says New Nutritional Study

By Michael Mullins   |   Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 08:01 AM

Muscles have been linked to longer life in a new study recently published in the American Journal of Medicine. The higher your muscle mass, apparently the less likely you are to die from natural causes.

The study, which analyzed data from a Nutrition Examination Survey of more than 3,600 older adults between 1988 and 1994 and then compared it to a 2004 follow-up survey, found that participants with higher levels of muscle mass were significantly less likely to die from natural causes compared to those with less muscle mass, HealthDay.com reported. Muscle mass is the amount of muscle relative to a person's height.

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Study lead author Dr. Preethi Srikanthan, an assistant clinical professor in the endocrinology division at University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine concluded in the study that increasing one's muscle mass decreases a person's metabolic risk, according to the university press release.

"In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death," study co-author Dr. Arun Karlamangla, an associate professor in the geriatrics division at the Geffen School, added in the release. "Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass."

The participants evaluated in the original survey were men 55 and older and women 65 and older.

The study's authors noted that while their research demonstrates a correlation between a person's muscle mass and their chances of living a longer life, it does not provide a cause-and-effect relationship between the two.

"As there is no gold-standard measure of body composition, several studies have addressed this question using different measurement techniques and have obtained different results," Srikanthan added.

Despite the study's lack of a cause-and-effect relationship, Srikanthan noted that the study "establishes the independent survival prediction ability of muscle mass as measured by bioelectrical impedance in older adults."

"We conclude that measurement of muscle mass relative to body height should be added to the toolbox of clinicians caring for older adults," Srikanthan wrote in the university's press release. "Future research should determine the type and duration of exercise interventions that improve muscle mass and potentially increase survival in (healthy), older adults."

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