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Feeling Cold May Add Years to Your Life

Update Date: Feb 19, 2013 03:52 PM EST
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Living in cold and frigid temperatures may be worth while as new research shows possible benefits of cold air for humans. A research study done at the University of Michigan observed the effects of cold air on the gene receptor, TRPA-1. The TRPA-1 receptor channel can be found in the nerve and fat cells of nematodes, also known as roundworms. It was discovered that roundworms live significantly longer under colder environments because the cold air seems to start a domino effect beginning with the receptor that eventually leads to the activation of the DAF-16/FOXO, the gene linked to longevity. 

Previous findings concluded that the cold induced a form of hibernation in the roundworms' bodies which was the main reason why roundworms have longer lifespans under cold weather. Past findings believed that the cold triggered the roundworms to hibernate since they are cold blooded organisms, and thus, those findings could not be applied to warm blooded mammals. However, the new research refutes that idea because roundworms with nonworking TRPA-1 do not live longer in the cold, which stresses the importance of this receptor channel. The old understanding did not consider the role of the TRPA-1 in understanding the roundworms' lifespan. The new research also found that these mechanisms do not only exist in cold blood organisms like the roundworms, but also, in warm blooded bodies like humans. 

Due to this new research, the human body's receptors should ideally trigger the longevity gene when it comes into contact with cold air. The research also concluded that mice, which are also warm blooded mammals, can live longer when their body temperatures are lowered by 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit. It was measured that their lifespan can be lengthened by 20%. Warm blooded mammals can reduce their core body temperature by careful calories restrictions. However, these methods have not been practiced or studied with the human body. In addition to cold air, research shows that other factors, such as wasabi and mustard oil also act as triggers to this chain reaction. 

The new findings open up more possibilities in studying longevity in humans, but the research now is still limited to roundworms and mice. 

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