Your Health and Your Lifespan -2

February 28, 2004

So What Could This Do For You?
    Honesty compels me to say that I believe that anyone under the age of thirty reading this page probably doesn't need to do anything about aging except to sit back and wait for someone else to solve the problem of slowing and, hopefully, reversing aging. (Of course, there will be fantastic amounts of money made this way. fortunes are already being made here. Also, if you're is concerned about retaining your parents and grandparents, then this might have some relevance even if you're under thirty.) That such a development will occur seems to me to be axiomatic. We have recently learned that there are species of rockfish with average life spans ranging from twelve years to no visible signs of aging after 200 years. The same thing happens with red sea urchins.
These huge differences in longevity apply to different species of the same genus. Presumably, there isn't a huge number of genetic differences between sea urchins that live short lives and sea urchins that show no signs of aging after 200 years1. We also know that nature has some way of completely rejuvenating organisms. A recent announcement by our friends at Advanced Cell Technology observes 

1  Various authors have observed that for most species, there's no incentive to develop great longevity because most of the members of the species are eaten, or die of other natural causes before they can reach the human equivalent of 30. However, rockfish hiding among rocks may be sufficiently protected from natural predators that it begins to make evolutionary sense that they might evolve longer life spans. Similarly, sea urchins may not be easy prey, although lamprey eels are said to dine on them.
    The species of rockfish that exhibits negligible senescence shows no increase in the mortality rate as a function of age. Also, 200-year-old rockfish reproduce are as fecund as 2-year-old rockfish. The same characteristics also apply to the ageless species of sea urchins.

that cloned heart stem cells, are, by the way, rejuvenated. (Cloned cells repair mouse hearts, says US company - New Scientist)
    Once we find out how to rejuvenate differentiated somatic cells, I'm speculating that we may be part-way toward the rejuvenating you and your older relatives.
    Beyond that, aging is intimately tied up with the diseases of old age.... cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease etc. And everyone I know wants fervently to avoid cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart attacks and strokes. Although there are influential bioethicists who believe that pain and suffering are part of the natural way of things, and that aging must not be altered so that life will go on as it always has, everybody else is going to push as hard as I am for medical breakthroughs and for a cure to the degeneration that is aging. So it's coming. 

    If you wanted to increase your chances of being around when the future arrives and you started a minimum-calorie diet at the age of twenty, then, conservatively, by the time you were sixty, you would be physiologically a very-healthy and robust fifty, and by the time you were one hundred, you would be a very healthy and robust eighty (and maybe jogging three miles a day and/or swimming a mile if you so chose). (I would hope that you would be physiologically a fit 45 at 60, and physiologically, a fit 70 at 100.) Also, if certain conditions like premature heart attacks or cancer run in your family, it might behoove you to embrace a CRON (Caloric-Restricted Optimal Nutrition) diet. A CRON diet would at least postpone such threats, if not outright sidestep them. (Roy Walford offers this recommendation in his book, "Beyond the 120-Year Diet". I suspect that someone who's 20 now could manage to be around to see the end of this century.
Caloric-Restriction Will Probably Be Supplanted By Better Techniques in Another Decade or Two.
    It's my guess that better types of interventions than caloric-restriction will show up within the next twenty years. Even so, if I were 20 right now, I believe I'd be exploring the idea of getting myself on a caloric-restricted diet. Basically, it involves eating the minimum number of calories you need to keep from either gaining or losing weight. And I'm not finding it that hard to do. (My situation is complicated by the fact that I'd like to lose a couple more pounds, and for the past three weeks, I've only managed to stay at about my current weight. It's hard to get an accurate calorie count since I eat a bite of this and a taste of that, but my calorie count isn't very high.) I haven't experienced the kind of chilliness that Ben Best has reported, but that may be because I have more insulating body fat than he does.  Of course, the lower the amount of heat you put generate, the lower the number of calories you burn, and (supposedly) the slower you'll age. (I'd cheerfully wear two or three sweaters if it would enable me to age at 1/3rd or 1/4th the normal rate.)
    Right now, the name of the game is to hang on long enough for anti-aging and rejuvenation techniques to become available. How fast that will happen is anyone's guess. In the meantime, there are maneuvers that might slow things a mite.

    A few recent news releases concerning aging research are reproduced below.

Science closing in on ageing gene   - BBC
Sirtuin Protein Has A New Function; May Play Role In Lifespan Extension
MIT Helps Unlock Life-extending Secrets Of Calorie Restriction
Gene That Extends Lifespan In Yeast Points To Paradigm Shift In Longevity Research; May Explain Life Extension Via Calorie Restriction - Science Daily
Scientists Find What Type Of Genes Affect Longevity - Science Daily
Biochemical Clues To Long Lifespan Revealed- Findings Extend Longevity Research From Yeast And Worms To Mammals - Science Daily
Centenarians' Inner Secrets Are Slowly Revealed  - NY Times


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