Adding Decades to Your Life Span?

March 31, 2004

The Meaning, and Magnitude of Aging Reversal 
   
Night before last, I wrote about the very recent discovery that starting caloric restriction late in life partially reverses aging. What I didn't understand nght before last was that starting calorie restriction in mice that were the human equivalent of 60 to 65 extended their average life span 42%. Starting calorie restriction later in life isn't as good as starting caloric restriction at birth (which can increase the life spans of long-lived mice from 1,100 days to 1,800 days... about a 64% increase), but it will deliver, at least in rodents, about 70% of the effect of starting calorie restiction at birth, or about a 42% increase in life span!. In human terms, if we set their average life span at 80, that would add 33.6 years to their average life span, bringing it to 113.6! Wow! That's revolutionary! Even a 15 year extension, bringing the average age to 95, would be well-received. And actually, anyone who takes care of themselves might live longer than average. Most of my relatives died in their nineties. Adding 15 years to that would approach 110. Given extra health measures and disease-avoidance strategies, that life span might be stretched to 115 without any further improvements in life extension techniques. And all but the last few years would be vigorous and independent. Uncle Glen, who died suddenly at 94, was still driving his truck and living at his home until two days before he died.  When she was  91, Aunt Florence was surreptitiously taken off the highway by Uncle Glen and Uncle Ray because she ran a stop sign while they were riding with her. Aunt Florence passed on peacefully in her sleep at the age of 94. She was still tending her own house. She had excellent hearing and eyesight right to the end (as did Uncle Glen).
This Could Produce Changes in Our Life Expectancies
    If this applies to humans the way it does to other species, it could dramatically alter our life expectancies.
    At the same time, it's worth noting that a shift from an average life span of, perhaps, 77 years in 2000 to, potentially, an average life expectancy of 110 years in 20??would still be significantly less than the increase in average life span from 46 years in 1900 to 77 years in 2000. And most probably, most people would be unwilling to change their eating habits sufficiently to avail themselves of this possibility, particularly when it's unproven in humans. However, the identification by Dr. Stephen Spindler, et al, of genetic biomarkers of aging makes it possible to determine in short order whether or not a CRON diet is, in fact, reversing aging, and if so, to what extent. Also, Dr. Roy Walford, in his book, 'Beyond The 120-Year Diet", in Table 2.3 on pg. 44, lists a set of easily performed medical tests that will confirm the partial reversal of aging, based upon two years of caloric restriction on the part of the 8-member crew of Biosphere II. 
What It 
    Last Saturday, we sat next to a man who is 92, and who is, physiologically, 72. Then there's Ola Wicks who will be 102 this year, and is as sharp as a tack. Ola doesn't begin to look 102. These people are vigorous, enjoying life to the fullest.
    How would you feel about the idea that at the age of 90, you would be running 10 k's, hiking the Appalachian Trail (if that were your wish), and in full possession of your faculties? 
    This may now be readily within your grasp.

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