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Our lifespan vs. our healthspan

 August 15, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, August 15th.

How is biological age measured?

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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Kids are heading back to school this month.

Schools starting this week include those in the Grossmont Union, and San Dieguito Union High School districts.

As well as schools in San Marcos Unified, Poway Unified, Oceanside Unified and Del Mar Union’s elementary schools.

The school year is starting with updated covid protocols..

Last week the C-D-C updated its guidance to eliminate the “test-to-stay” strategy after potential exposure to COVID.

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New season, new stadium!

Starting today, Aztec football tickets go on sale for everyone.

The 20-22 football season home games will be played at S-D-S-U’s new stadium, the Snapdragon Stadium.

Single-game ticket prices range from 33-dollars to more than 200-dollars, depending on the game and seat location.

The Aztecs have seven home games this season.

The season opener is on September 3rd and against the University of Arizona.

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Tomorrow, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will consider adopting a resolution in support of a national bill that aims to protect reproductive health data.

The legislation was proposed by Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, who represents a large portion of San Diego County.

The “My body, My Data Act” would require the collection of reproductive and sexual health data to be minimized and for individuals to be able to see and delete their data.

It would also allow consumers to sue companies they believe violated those rules and their privacy.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

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If your lifespan is the number of years you live on earth, what is your healthspan?

A study of accelerated aging shows that a person’s biological age may be very different from what it says on their birth certificate.

KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge has the story.

Ambience of dance class An exercise studio with a hardwood floor is filled with senior citizens moving to R&B music. This is a Soul Dancing class taking place at an exercise studio in La Mesa. It’s one thing people do to remain fit and stay young. And while staying young may not be literally possible based on the time you’ve been on this Earth. The idea is not so far-fetched when you consider a person’s biological age, which is the state of your health. Or, as it’s said in a UC San Diego health study, a person’s epigenetic age. PURVA JAIN Epigenetic age refers to biological age. It’s just one way to measure biological age. But it captures the health of tissues, cells and organ systems, using the methylation marks across the genome.Purva Jane is an epidemiologist and former PhD student at UC San Diego. Her article on epigenetic age acceleration among women appeared in the journal JAMA Network Open. The methylation marks, she cites, are molecules that attach to your DNA, causing some genes to be expressed and some to not be. In Purva Jain’s research, those methylation markers were revealed through blood tests of about 1800 women. UCSD professor and chief of epidemiology Andrea LaCroix was Jain’s dissertation advisor. “If a biomarker only matches with our chronological age, we can know that from our birth certificate. We don’t need a fancy blood test with interpretations. We can just know how old we are. But what we’re trying to find is a marker that we can easily measure in the blood that can tell us whether we’re aging faster or slower than our chronological age. The research found that when markers act on your DNA they can increase the risk of disease and accelerate your biological age. That has a profound effect on how long we live, and how well we live. PURVA JAIN “So what we found is that for every 5-8 years of Epigenetic age acceleration if you were 5-8 years older than your chronological age, you had 20 to 32 percent lower odds of living to age 90 with intact mobility and cognitive function. Jain says those methylation markers are kind of like traffic signals for your genes. But how do they get there? In the case of accelerated aging, it could be just bad luck. But scientists say that well known factors like lack of exercise and poor diet do influence your health. Put another way, they can determine your healthspan. ANDREA LACROIX  “Many of us think about growing older and what we perhaps fear most isn’t dying, but losing the ability to live the lives we want to live. That’s what we know from surveys, older people don’t care about living to be the oldest age they can be but they care a lot about being able to do the things they love doing for the longest period of time. And that’s really what healthspan is.” If accelerated aging can be reversed or stopped altogether that’s what some of these people are trying to do in that La Mesa exercise studio. This studio, part of Oasis San Diego, has many fitness classes for old folks. Others include strength training, bone-building fitness and cardio drumming, in which people strike exercise balls with sticks to the beat of music. 62-year old Pat Vorman, a retired nurse, brought up the cardio drumming class to us. She was just introduced to the idea of biological age even though she clearly exercises to keep hers as low as possible. “Oh my gosh. It keeps your mind young. It keeps your heart young. Just your whole body. It keeps you moving and it’s so important for the whole picture of health.” Elinor Smith, who’s 88 years old, is one of the fitness instructors at San Diego Oasis. “It’s not just to stay young it’s to feel good and to be able to do the things you want to do.”  Of course some people have seen their healthspans run out. Like Andrea LaCroix’s mother, who has advanced Alzheimer's disease. ANDREA LACROIX “And she can no longer get out of her chair. She can no longer speak. She can’t say our names. And we can’t tell if she knows us. If she knows that we’re her daughters. We do go visit her and we can see that she’s alert and she can smile at us. She can hold our hands.” LaCroix says every person needs to decide what their healthspan means to them. And that question is crucial when it comes to planning the final years of their lives. SOQ.

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FENTANYL SEIZURES BY LAW ENFORCEMENT ON THE BORDER CONTINUE TO Increase, ALONG WITH DEATHS …

RANDY GROSSMAN, THE U.S. DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA, SAID 60 PERCENT OF THE SEIZURES ARE FROM SAN DIEGO AND IMPERIAL COUNTIES … HE CALLED IT THE EPICENTER OF FENTANYL TRAFFICKING IN THE U.S.

"The other statistics that are equally as impressive and deeply concerning are not just seizures but the deaths in San Diego County alone as we indicated over  800 deaths attributed to fentanyl overdose  in the year 2021."

GROSSMAN SAYS THAT IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS PROSECUTION CASES FOR FENTANYL INCREASED 1600 PERCENT.

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In other border news, the number of people hospitalized after falling from the border wall is on pace to surpass last year’s record.

KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis spoke with UCSD Health’s head of trauma about the alarming numbers.

University of California San Diego Health is on pace to receive a record-number of patients falling off the border wall this year, over 300, up from last years 270. Doctor Jay Doucet says there are so many border fall victims that they set up a special hospital ward just for them. Dr Jay “So it’s not getting any better. The number of border falls has continued to be the same or a little higher.” Doucet says he has noticed the number of patients increase since the implementation of Title 42 – a Trump era policy that blocks asylum to most migrants. He also noticed more severe injuries since the 17-foot-tall border wall was replaced by a 30-foot wall in the beginning of 2020. Dr Jay “The most common injury would be a fracture of the lower leg.   And frequently those fractures are open, that is the bone has come out through the skin. Which is a nasty kind of fracture.” Gustavo Solis, KPBS News

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Long COVID, a post-viral condition that can develop after a COVID infection, has been the subject of growing concern as case numbers continue to rise.

inewsource reporter Danielle Dawson spoke to people with these ‘debilitating’ and ‘disabling’ conditions, which experts say illustrate the long-term consequences of the pandemic.

DAWSON: Taylor Brune contracted COVID in March of 2020. After recovering from her acute infection, she never really felt ‘better.’ Chronic fatigue and cognitive difficulties made it hard for her to do everyday things. She had to leave her job and give up the dream of becoming a doctor. DAWSON: Brune is just one of millions across the country who are experiencing what is known as long COVID, a ‘debilitating’ post-viral condition that can develop after a COVID infection. BRUNE: Right now a lot of long COVID patients are learning how to grieve their past lives. People who are going through this type of loss, of their bodies, of their health, meaning that they can’t do the same things they used to…it’s a big heavy thing to deal with. DAWSON: The CDC estimates that long COVID has affected nearly one in four people in California who have had a previous coronavirus infection. Doctors say that long COVID should be one of the most important reasons why people, regardless of the traditional risk factors, should continue to exercise caution, including getting vaccinated and wearing a mask. For KPBS, I’m inewsource reporter Danielle Dawson.

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

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Coming up.... It will soon cost even more to go to Disneyland. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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Disney corporation is making up for pandemic losses by raising prices at their theme parks and for their T-V streaming services.

KPBS reporter Thomas Fudge has the story.

As theme parks movie theaters shut down due to COVID, Disney Corporation lost billions of dollars in profits. Miro Copic is the founder of Bottom Line marketing and a business commentator for KPBS. He says the company is making that up with plans to raise prices at their theme parks and increasing costs of their streaming services. Copic says higher costs are keeping pace with the rising cost of the shows they produce. "Disney, Netflix, HBO have all committed, and Amazon, more than 20 billion dollars over the next few years each, on the production of content for their streaming services. Somehow they have to pay for that or at least be profitable for that." As Disney prices go up, inflation nationwide has cooled down. The inflation pace in June of 9.1 fell to 8.5 percent in July, thanks to decreases in the prices of gas and energy.   SOQ

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Princess Cruises has canceled nearly a dozen roundtrip cruises in and out of San Diego.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says the cruise line cited labor challenges as the reason for the cancellations.

Darcy Healy is an avid cruiser. She’s dealt with canceled cruises due to the pandemic, but remains optimistic about her upcoming trip on the Princess Discovery out of the Port of Los Angeles in October. Even in light of the recent cancellations the company has made in San Diego … “Princess has canceled, they say because of labor shortages – which I believe. I mean because they want the money and San Diego definitely wants them here for the money.” Princess Cruises still plans 13 sailings starting later in the year in San Diego. According to the Port of San Diego, it’s anticipating roughly 140 cruise calls for the 2022-23 season, with ships at or near full occupancy. That's up roughly 45 percent higher than last season. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

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San Diego is now the first county in the nation to have accredited Geriatric Emergency Departments in all of its eligible hospitals.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere explains why this designation is so important.

The Geriatric Emergency Departments specifically cater to seniors who may have dementia, cognitive decline and physical conditions that make it more difficult to navigate the emergency room. UC San Diego’s Jacobs Medical Center is one of the sites… and Susan Nelson was a patient. “This is quite different than the regular ER. It had a smaller venue. I mean it was just like 18 beds, very comfy – sound proof walls. The floors were non-skid.” According to county officials, the GEDs have the potential to reach over 275,000 seniors who account for roughly one-third of all ED visits in San Diego. San Diego County is now home to 18 accredited GEDs across the region. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

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Some students at San Diego State University received a special welcome back to campus Friday.

They’re not your typical college students… as KPBS Education reporter M.G. Perez explains.

The OH-sher Institute offers classes in partnership with San Diego State…which has been designated an age-friendly university….a designation given to only about 80 campuses across the country that educate the elderly. Most of the returning OH-sher students are retirement age…like Carol Rainey…who is 78 and a half years old.  “I’ve taken music classes, philosophy classes, literature, history, movies, ….just about everything….Chidokan!”  THAT is a type of karate…other classes offered range from philosophy and music …to history and literature. Classes cost about a hundred dollars tuition with scholarships available. MGP KPBS News

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That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

A study of accelerated aging shows a person’s biological age may be different from what it says on their birth certificate. In other news, the number of people hospitalized after falling from the border wall is close to surpassing last year’s record. Plus, Disney is raising prices at their theme parks to make up for pandemic losses.