We Grow Old?
Lessons Learned Since Last Month's Installment
The first lesson I've learned since writing last "prolongevity" article is that the kind of full-scale, total age reversal I described may not happen next year, if it can happen at all. I still believe that there may be the potential for complete age reversal, as I described in last month's installment, but there are complications that arise with multicellular organisms, one of which is cancer.
Cancer: Nature Optimizes for the Reproductive Years
Nature seems to trade better protection against cancer during the reproductive years against.faster aging. The p53 gene has the function of causing genetically unrepairable cells to self-destruct, rather than to reproduce with seriously flawed genomes. Multiple copies of the p53 gene will cause cells to commit hari-kari at the drop of a pin, but they will also cause cells to self-destruct needlessly, thereby hastening the proliferative exhaustion of the neighboring cell lines that have to replace them.
(But if that's true, how is it that centenarians come from families of other centenarians? Cancer should spirit them off at a early age.)
All Other Things Being Equal, the Chance of Contracting Cancer is Proportional to an Organism's Cell Count
With respect to cancer, the chances of developing cancer must be proportional to the number of cells in the organism. Humans are comprised of about ten trillion cells. Fruitflies should contain about 100,000 cells, or about 1/100,000,000th as many cells as we have. So cancer should be non-existent among fruitflies. Cancer should occur only very rarely among mice. But how about whales? Blue whales possess of the order of 1,000 times as many cells as humans, with lifespans comparable to our own. How come they don't die of cancer shortly after conception?
This suggests that large animals may have lessons to teach us about protection against cancer.
Clearly, the tradeoffs must be somewhat more complex than meet the eye.
Humans Have a Lot of Telomerase-Producing Tissue
All of our epithelial tissue--our skins, the linings of our GI tracts, and much of our other internal tissues--must continually replace older cells that rise to the surface and are sloughed off. They must be equipped with telomerase to avoid the Hayflick Limit. Similarly, our bone marrow is designed to continue producing red and white cells throughout our lives, and its cells are also replete with telomerase. A male's sperm-producing testicles must also possess telomerase to allow for the continuing production of spermatazoa.
So why isn't this tissue immortal? That's a good question to which I don't yet know the answer.
There is a school of thought that argues that if we were given an infusion of telomerase, it would cause latent malignancies in our bodies to explode. That may be exactly correct, and the administration of telomerase to humans will have to be explored very carefully. (We can't use laboratory mice for this purpose because lab mice have telomeres that are about 10 times as long as ours. Furthermore, murine tissue can produce telomerase at need. However, animals at the city pound that are to be euthanised might be suitable subjects for experiments in age reversal.)
Where Would Rejuvenation Stop? In the Cradle?
One of the noir science fiction themes about rejuvenation is that the rejuvenated organism would continue to regress until the individual became an infant. If this were the price of rejuvenation, no one would want to pay it. But my own notion is that the cells of the body would remain differentiated, and would simply be "rebuilt". The individual would end up at the stage of ontological development of young adulthood.
The Book of Life in God's Other Bible/Talmud/Quran/Sutras/Vedas"
We are only beginning to translate the "Book of Life" in "God's Other Bible". It may be a long time before we really understand in exquisite detail how cells work, and how our bodies work. Age reversal, to the extent to which it can happen soon, will probably have to involve only sketchy guesses regarding how life's machinery does its various jobs.
That's a reason for thinking that it may take a while to achieve major aging reversal.
Rejuvenation Wouldn't Mean Immortality
It's clear that those mortality factors that winnow the young today would limit life spans even if everyone were physiologically 16. Accidents, suicides, infectious diseases, wars, congenital infirmities, and autoimmune diseases would continue to take their toll as they do today. Over the coming decades, some of these threats to health and life may be overcome, but new threats like HIV or the West Nile Virus may appear to take their place. An analysis of the causes of death leads me to an estimate of the order of 400 to 500 years for an average life span considering only death by accident, but actual life spans, given repeated, perfect rejuvenations, might be less than that because of the risk factors cited above.
Would kids feel any more indestructible if they knew they wouldn't age than they do today? Would teenagers still hot-rod? Would guys still ride Harleys? Would people still sky-dive?
We might expect to live longer, but death would eventually claim us.
It also seems questionable to me whether rejuvenation would eliminate existing cancer or vascular plaque, nor, perhaps, would it dissolve bony processes that have developed in response to, e. g., tight shoes. Would it eliminate baldness? Gray hair? It probably wouldn't re-grow teeth.
Even if we could completely rejuvenate an eighty-year-old, they would presumably begin to age again immediately, and would be in the market for repeated applications of our hypothetical rejuvenation treatments. Also, if we needed to withhold rejuvenation treatments, it could be done.
Wouldn't It Lead to a Population Explosion?
Without any external influences, that would be a possibility, but, I would hope, not a certainty. I think it's possible that the kind of voluntary restraint that is causing population growth rates to decline around the world might be sufficient to hold population in check, as discussed below.
Before worrying about the dangers of total rejuvenation, we should probably observe that we may be concerning ourselves with how many angels can fox-trot on the point of a pin. There are experts who say that we'll never be able to retard the rate of aging, much less reverse it. Having experienced these arguments several times in the past, I think they're wrong, but time will tell. But even if they're wrong, experience with cancer and cardiovascular research suggests that progress in clinical therapies is painfully slow. FDA approval takes five to ten years, and now costs $500,000,000 per drug!
We should have time to plan for population control long before total age reversal is available.
Below are a few reasons why population restraint might not be the incubus that it might at first seem.
Average family size has dropped sharply over the past 100 years
Between 1900 and 2000, the average family size in the developed countries voluntarily dropped from, perhaps, 5-to-7 children per family to approximately 2 children per family. (Apparently, during the latter part of the 19th century, this reduction in family size had already occurred in England among the educated classes but not among the lower classes, and was the basis for Sir Francis Galton's concern that the less intelligent would outbreed the more intelligent.)
Presumably, family size drops when:
(1) birth control technology enables it;
(2) children aren't likely to die in childhood;
(3) women are educated and empowered, and
(4) old age pension systems eliminate the need for children to support their elders in their old age.
World Population Is Projected to Peak at 9 Billion in 2070
Present projections call for modest population growth to 9 billion human beings by 2070, followed by a slow population decline.
A portion of U. S. population growth occurred because of immigration.
A portion (www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0029/tab12.html) of U. S. population growth between 1900 and 2000 was the result of immigration. In 1900, about one-third of all Americans derived from foreign-born stock. Of course, this generation's foreign-born stock becomes the next generation's native-born stock. Since U. S. population data is given as a running tally, it's hard to arrive at an integrated value, but the fraction that was added by immigration between 1900 and 2000 must have been substantial.
The populations of some countries are stable or declining.
An excellent discussion of population growth and similar questions may be found at the MaxLife (www.maxlife.org/faqs.htm) website. For recommendations from a non-profit organization regarding personal health, MaxLife offers "The Owner's Manual for the Human Body (www.maxlife.org/ownersmanual.pdf)".
What about the Law of Malthus?
The Law of Malthus, postulated by the Reverend Thomas Malthus, proposes that animal populations increase until environmental factors such as starvation limit their size.
Malthasian dynamics appear to apply to animal populations, but not to current human populations. Malthasian law predicts that the hungriest populations should have the lowest survival rates. In fact, the opposite is true. Those countries in which food is most plentiful and life expectancies are greatest are the countries in which population growth rates are the lowest.
Martin Hunt has made the insightful observation (in his comments in last month's Gift of Fire) that individuals who chose to hold down their numbers of offspring would breed themselves out of the gene pool. That certainly makes Darwinian sense. However for some reason, as the above chart suggests, that doesn't seem to be happening. Perhaps in societies in which women work on career tracks alongside men, women don't want more children than they can afford or for whom they can properly care.
Life expectancies have increased sharply over the past 100 years
Life expectancies have risen from 47 in 1900 to 77 in 2000. This would presumably have engendered a population increase by a factor of 1.65... as though today's average life span were to rise to 127! So we've already dealt with an increase in life span by a factor of 1.65!
The Western world saw a sexual revolution over the past 30 years
During this period, the U. S. went through a sexual revolution. Premarital sex and living outside of wedlock became common practices. One might have expected a population explosion as a result of these practices, but that seems not to have occurred.
This didn't happen without some U. S. population growth
The U. S. population (www.census.gov/population/www/censusdata/hiscendata.html) grew from about 76,000,000 in 1900 to about 151,000,000 in 1950, and to about 281,000,000 in 2000. It virtually doubled from 1900 to 1950, and nearly doubled again between 1950 and 2000. Still, the U. S. population hasn't exploded the way some of us, fifty years ago, feared that it would. (The average growth rate has been about 1.4% per year between 1900 and 1950, and about 1.24% between 1950 and 2000.) We were forecasting 3% population growth, leading to a U. S. population of about 675,000,000 by the year 2000.) And as mentioned above, a sizable fraction of that population growth has stemmed from immigration rather than endogenous reproduction.
Anticipated global increases in average life expectancies may be prime sources of population expansion due to life extension, as less-industrialized nations catch up with more- industrialized nations
I should think that one of the most likely source of life extension will be a major rise in average life expectancies over the coming decades for people in less-industrialized nations. As I remember it, the UN has just reported that, globally, the average projected lifespan is expected to increase by 10 years between now and 2010. (presumably, this has been factored into their above population projections.)
Some people engage in life-shortening practices ranging from dangerous hobbies to heavy smoking and drinking. How much this will decline over coming decades might be problematical, but the the potential for improvement may exist.
Some individuals die of inherited predispositions to certain diseases such as muscular dystrophy or Huntington's chorea, and hopefully, these might eventually be candidates for genetic intervention strategies.
You can't separate medical intervention from the prolongation of life.
Every time a physician performs an appendectomy or administers antibiotics to cure a life-threatening infection, she is prolonging someone's life in a serious way. And we certainly wouldn't have it any other way. If we're sick, we don't want to let Nature to take its course.
One problem is that a poisonous snake bite or a case of appendicitis could shorten someone's life. Should they seek medical treatment, or would we say, "It's God's will. I should go ahead and die so that I can reduce the world's population.?" Medical treatments are inextricably entangled with the prolongation of life. And over the coming decades, various kinds of interventions are going to lead to greater and greater life spans.
You probably won't die of old age. You'll die of diseases such as cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's Disease, or Parkinson's Disease that are rare among the young. How you feel about cures for these diseases? Do you oppose advances in medical science because they might keep people alive and well a little longer? But on the other hand, the cures for these diseases would presumably result in physiologically-younger elders. Someone who's 90, with the cardiovascular system of a 40-year-old, is going to be in pretty good shape. Reducing her chances of getting cancer would probably mean that her cells have been much better protected against mutagenic damage. She's probably going to look and feel pretty good for a 90-year-old. The agents that would protect against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases--e. g., omega-3 fatty acids--would probably also benefit other parts of her body as well.
Improvements in medical technology may extend average life expectancies somewhat.
Organ replacements and stem cell supplementation might lead to increases in life span. Bringing the "youth span" of the average person up to the "youth spans" of the longest-lived individuals might be another way to extend the "health span". Genetics must surely play a part in healthy aging. Still another approach might be through methods of effecting the slower metabolisms of caloric restriction without necessarily restricting calories. (There are a few "longevinauts", led by Dr. Roy Walford, who are experimenting with caloric restriction at the present time.)
Beyond better existing health care in developing countries might lie the diffusion to the rest of the world of the improvements in health care technology that are occurring in in industrialized countries.
The U. N. is predicting an increase in average global lifespan by 10 years by 2010.
I think that these and other techniques will slowly extend the average global life span. Whether or not more rapid changes occur depends upon the safety and efficacy of products that are currently only in the laboratory stage.
Retardation Or Reversal of Aging Would Have Major Financial Consequences
If, medically, we could bring 80-year-olds back to the state of health they were in at 16, there would be a major decline in funerals and in medical bills. It would impact pharmaceutical companies, and not in a profitable way. (On the other hand, the marketing of aging reversal agents and associated pills and interventions would probably generate fabulous wealth.) Medicine would still be of the highest importance, but the demand for new M. D.'s would probably fall off until a new balance point were reached. And drastic changes would have to be made in retirement arrangements, which would put an extra workload on Congress and upon, e. g., insurance companies. Here again, though, there should be ample warning and ample time to make whatever adjustments might be necessary.
On the plus side, medical costs for Medicare should drop precipitously. Also, age remediation treatments should generate billions upon billions of dollars for their purveyors.
Sometimes, problems have to get worse before they become the squeaky wheel that gets the grease
There are enough urgent problems at any given time that problems sometimes have to become major before they receive major attention. A sudden ability to rejuvenate might get attention more quickly than the type of slow increases in life span that are occurring at the present time.
Ideally, one would like to see our population controlled voluntarily by an enlightened and concerned citizenry. So far, this is what we've had. The imposition of central control might tend to lead to rebellion, black markets, and the peddling of influence. Also, each individual needs to reproduce himself/herself. On that basis, each couple could have two children.
There's a problem with timing that will have to be addressed if the period of fertility is extended beyond its present limits. Males can already bank their sperm, and the banking of women's ova is just now at hand. You can see how, within the next few years, women may bank a portion of their ova so that they can avail themselves in vitro fertilization later in life, if necessary. This means that 38-year-old Heather can have her children a little later in life, with the expectation of living at least into her 80's. It is also going to open the fertility window a bit wider than it is now. So this problem is already about to face us. (I can imagine that in vitro fertilization may also be inspired by a desire to check a zygote's genome to guard against Huntington's chorea, hemophilia, Down's syndrome, muscular dystrophy, and a host of other crippling diseases. Of course, this might also be done by aborting an embryo found to be perniciously defective.)
If we ever get to the point where we can extend the youth span markedly, then we would have the problem of getting families to refrain from starting a family until someone else in the world dies. (No, I don't think you could bump someone else off. I don't think it would work that way.)
It would also require a central agency that could keep track of births and deaths.
Concurrent with these developments are others that we can hardly foresee. What might be the impact of technology upon our ancient ways? Might we some day have human-seeming robotic partners? What about virtual partners who exist only in an artificially intelligent computer, or who consist of actual individuals living somewhere else? Some people tend to view the future through a rear-view mirror, but times change.
Fortunately, we don't have to face these problems very soon. Even if someone came up with a method of providing complete rejuvenation at one stroke, it would be many years before such a revolutionary development could be approved for widespread use. And in all likelihood, it will be a long time before such a revolutionary development occurs, coming, perhaps, bit by bit.
What If Voluntary Population Restraint Doesn't Work?
If voluntary population control didn't work, then society might be forced to resort to sticks as well as carrots, with carrots much to be preferred to sticks. As we can foresee it today, rejuvenation wouldn't be permanent. As a last resort, individuals could be denied rejuvenation if they reproduced unfairly. But there should be many ways to encourage reproduction restraint, and these would seem to me to be strongly preferred to any kinds of mandatory restraints on individual rights to reproduce. It's much better when we can say, "The world would appreciate it if you would refrain from (whatever) than it is when we must say, "You can't."
Current Status of NIH-Sponsored Anti-Aging Research in the United States
According to The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, out of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 2002 budgetary appropriation of $23.6 billion dollars, $880 million was earmarked for the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Less than 1% of that windfall, or about $8 million has been earmarked for the biology of aging. The rest of it is being invested in studies of the aged, and of how they are coping with their parlous conditions. ($8,000,000 would be a little less than 1/3,000th of the NIH budget.) (However, it should be noted that in 1999, the NIH funded the University of Wisconsin to continue their studies of caloric restriction in primates to the tune of $6.75 million.)
Although one certainly wouldn't want to discount the potential of federally-sponsored biological research into the retardation and possible reversal of aging, the political cross-winds and bureaucratic constraints upon federal funding of research may relegate it to an ancillary role in the battle against senescence. Most funding in this arena is emanating from the private sector.
By No Means Everyone Wants the Population to Live Longer
Many people are concerned over anything that threatens to boost population
There are many concerned people who are opposed to seeing us live longer and better than we will without intervention. ("It will lead to a population explosion, and think what it will do to the environment!" "It's unnatural. If God had wanted us to live longer, he'd have made us that way." "We need to get the old fogies out of the way, and let the younger generation kick the gong around for awhile.")
What we worry most about usually never happens.
A recent ABC telephone poll shows that two/thirds of U. S. citizens don't want to live longer.
A recent ABC poll shows that 65% of U. S.' citizens wouldn't want to live to be 120. "An overwhelming majority prefers to face those so-called golden years naturally, rather than take artificial measures to help roll back the clock." "Perhaps one reason people don't want to live so long is that they think it would have a detrimental impact on society. Sixty-five percent say that having many more people live past the age of 100 would negatively affect society." If we can take this to heart, then there may not so great a population problem. No more than 35% of the population will opt for "youth extension". My only concern is that when it comes down to deciding whether you want that antibiotic or whether you'd rather die now so that you alleviate the world's population problem, I don't foresee many people choosing the latter option. When a pollster calls you on the phone and says, "What do you think about... ", you're probably in a hurry, and you're going to give off-the-top-of-the-head answers to questions that you might answer very differently in real life.
Many leading gerontologists think that extending our life spans by more than a few years is unfounded fantasy.
A paper, "Essay: No Truth to the Fountain of Youth", published by S. J. Olshansky, L. Hayflick, and B. Carnes in Scientific American, June, 2002, sets forth some of these conclusions. ( This article is available upon payment of a fee.) Basically, what the article says is that there is nothing available that has been proven to slow the progress of aging (other than good health habits that don't accelerate the rate of aging)... no hormones, no lifestyle changes, no genetic modifications, no replacement of body parts have been demonstrated to slow the aging process or to influence the processes of aging.
Considering the careful wording of the article, it's hard to disagree with the statements the authors make, and they may be a welcome counterpoint to the gush of nutrients, mail-order drugs, nostrums, and potions that offer wellness and the retardation or partial reversal of aging for a high price.
At the same time, it's not true that your "youthspan" can't be increased, if for no other reason than the fact that you can avoid unduly shortening it. For example, diabetes causes premature aging. Smoking prematurely ages your lungs, and to a certain extent, your skin and other body organs (through free-radical damage?). Caloric restriction slows the rate of aging in animal models, and presumably in humans. Actually, evidence is accumulating that caloric intake plays an important role in carcinogenesis. (The more calories cells burn, the more free radicals they create.)
Of course, I think that it should also be noted that nothing was ever lofted into orbit before October 4, 1957, and when it happened, it took the world by storm. No successful, heavier-than-air, self-propelled flying machines existed before 1903. No animal was cloned before Dolly, the sheep. No large-scale release of nuclear energy occurred before 1942. Nor were these changes gradual. Practical thermonuclear power generation still isn't here after fifty years of R&D, although it's getting close. Because something hasn't been done doesn't mean it can't be done, or that we shouldn't keep trying.
It's hard to resist quoting some pundits of the past:
demonstration that no possible combination of known substances, known forms of
machinery and known forms of force, can be united in a practical machine by
which men shall fly along distances through the air, seems to the writer as
complete as it is possible for the demonstration to be."
-- Simon Newcomb, 1900
"The aeroplane will never fly."
-- Lord Haldane, Minister of War, Britain, 1907 (four years after Kitty Hawk)
A similar article, "The Quest for Immortality", by Drs. Olshansky and Carnes, includes some of the ideas incorporated in their Scientific American article. In their article, Drs. Olshansky and Carnes state that: "a caloric restricted diet will not make anyone live to 120 years who does not already have the potential to live that long anyway." To my knowledge, the jury is still out on that question, but I have the impression that the study of calorie-restricted primates that is underway is suggesting that aging is occurring slower than it does in fully-fed primates. Of course, it will take another 10 to 20 years to prove that caloric restriction lowers the rate of aging in rhesus monkeys, and perhaps another century after that to unequivocally determine whether caloric restriction works in humans, but many of us may be unwilling to defer judgment that long.
Dr. Lawrence Kass, President Bush' bioethics advisor is alleged to be opposed to further scientific advances, saying that suffering and death are part of life. I can only guess, but I would imagine that Dr, Kass would see himself defending God's Word and the human condition against a blind scientific/commercial establishment that asks only "how to", and isn't designed to consider "whether to". I'm not sure of this, but I believe that Dr. Kass is credited with recommending that U. S. stem cell research be limited to existing stem cell lines. I believe that Dr. Kass is credited with current efforts to enforce such a ban worldwide. Dr. Kass is adamantly opposed to attempts to extend the human lifespan. A description of Dr. Kass may be found at http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m1061/3_107/54098049/p1/article.jhtml.
Dr. Roy Walford observes that caloric restriction doesn't need to be an all-or-none proposition. Even a 10% reduction calories below what he calls "the setpoint" is said to be beneficial, up to a caloric restriction of about 50%. Of course, this requires careful attention to the quality of nutrition as the quantity is lowered. (Personally, I wouldn't propose that one pursue a drastic calorie-restricted diet, since I'm hoping that other techniques for treating aging will soon be available. However, staying lean and well-nourished is probably wise counsel for most of us.)
Also, a Harvard spin-off is working bringing to market a product that would emulate the genetic benefits that conspire to produce centenarians.
What Can (Easily) Be Done, Will Be Done
My personal persuasion is that if this can be done, it will be done, somewhere, sometime, by someone. It doesn't require an Oak Ridge diffusion facility. It would be ideally suited to the Chinese, or to researchers in a hundred other nations. I believe that it will happen. What we need to think about is how to deal with it when it does.
Within 50 Years....
Within 50 years, and conceivably, within 25, I believe that aging is going to be a treatable disease. I suspect that eventually, we will feel about those who allow themselves to grow old the same way we do about lepers. We will adjust to a life without a cancellation date ("...for.summer's lease hath all too short a date.") Note that youthfulness does not mean immortality. People will continue to die of accidents, wars, new diseases... "all the ills that flesh is heir to."
This prospect raises thoughts of eugenics. If we can extend human youth spans indefinitely, do we really want to extend these benefices to the retarded, and to couch potatoes whose only contribution to the world is working in their gardens or decorating their homes? We could solve overpopulation problems if we restricted rejuvenation to some fraction of the brightest 1% of the populace.
It's tempting, but I think that this wouldn't work. I don't think you can control it. A black market would develop. Once understood, the technology will probably soon become the province of well-equipped basement labs located anywhere in the world. The wealthy would buy into it. How would you keep the best and brightest from bringing along their spouses, children, parents, and other family members?
I think, after thinking it over, that eugenics is a very bad and impractical idea.
Anyway, here are some preliminary thoughts about one person's view of what's riding on the wind..
Steps That Might Reverse Your Age Somewhat Right Now
The following are a few of the ways in which you might possibly currently or potentially begin the process of age reversal.
(1) Alteon Pharmaceuticals (www.alteonpharma.com) has developed a class of small-molecule A. G. E. (Advanced Glycation Endproducts) cross-linkage breakers similar to Vitamin B1 that soften stiffened tissues such as those found in the cardiovascular system (and presumably, elsewhere in the body). One of their agents, ALT-711, is in Phase II clinical trials.
"Results from these trials are expected in 2003. Phase IIa trial results of ALT-711 in cardiovascular compliance demonstrated that patients who received ALT-711 experienced a statistically significant reduction in the arterial pulse pressure, as well as a clinically relevant increase in large artery compliance. Preclinical testing also has clearly demonstrated the ability of ALT-711 to reverse age-related and diabetes-related cardiovascular disease and restore function to the cardiovascular system. All data thus far has been consistent across all species that Alteon has tested. In preclinical evaluations, ALT-711 reversed stiffening of the aorta in rodents, canines and non-human primates, similar to what recently has been observed in humans. The ability to decrease pulse pressure and increase large artery compliance offers an opportunity to provide a treatment option for isolated systolic hypertension (ISH), which is estimated to affect 20 million people in the U.S. alone."
More information is available at http://www.alteonpharma.com/cross1.htm
(2) It has recently been discovered that the ACE (Angiotensive Conversion Enzyme) inhibitor class of anti-hypersensitive drugs reduce (markedly) the formation of A. G. E.'s in diabetics. These won't reverse glycation, but they might slow it down.
(3) Experiments are underway administering orally a much less irritating analog of Retin-A that can benefit all the cells of the body.
(4) Dimericine might possibly be administered internally. (I don't know whether that's been attempted with animals, but I would suppose that it has.)
(5) About 130 human DNA repair enzymes are known. These might be administered internally to animals, and then to humans.
(6) Application of liposomal creams of alpha-lipoic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids, ascorbyl palmitate, vitamin C, mixed tocopherols, and dimethyl aminoethanol will allegedly partially reverse aging in skin.
Foods that might slow the aging process
The following sections present foods that have been discussed as cancer preventives, but that might also help prevent cardiovascular disease and slow aging
Some Cancer-Fighting Foods
Lycopene is very effective in warding off cancer of the prostate. Lycopene is found in tomatoes, tomato sauces, watermelon and ketchup, but it's most effective in cooked sauces such as ketchup and tomato sauces. The cooking seems to break down cell walls of the tomato, and to release the lycopene better than tomato juice. "New Pilot Study Suggests Flaxseed And Low-Fat Diet Can Be Protective Against Prostate Cancer", "Citrus Product May Help Prevent Prostate Cancer", "Soy Extract Reduces Prostate Cancer Growth In Mice, Cell Culture", "
Lycopene supplements don't work well
Another important prostate-cancer fighter is fish oil from cold-water fish, such as mackerel, salmon, tuna, whitefish and sardines (but not codfish). These fish contain the omega-3 essential fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Blueberries, bilberries, and strawberries are being touted as effective cancer fighters, together with black raspberries ("Black Raspberries Show Multiple Defenses In Thwarting Cancer") and, perhaps, blackberries. Berries are phenomenally high in antioxidants.
The cruciform vegetables, such as cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower, possess a substance (sulphoraphane) that protects against cancer of the colon: "Fighting cancer from the cabbage patch"
Orange juice and orange pulp have been cited as cancer deterrents. See "How Vitamin C prevents cancer--but apples are better".) Orange pulp contains citrus pectin, which is thought to be a major preventative of, and possibly, a treatment for cancer. However, the good stuff is found in its pulp, so eating oranges, or possibly, Tropicana's Grovestand orange juice with pulp are the preferred ways to get this.
Purple grapes contain resversatrol, which protects against both cancer and heart disease. They also contain antioxidants that are more powerful than vitamins C and E.
Apples are evidently particularly good for us. That old bromide about "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." may contain some folksy wisdom.
Ancient Chinese Folk Remedy May Hold Key to Non-Toxic Cancer Treatment
Green tea and its disputed role in the prevention of stomach cancer
Garlic and onions have long been recognized for their roles in combating heart disease. (Garlic was fed to race horses before humans tumbled to its cardiovascular protection.) Now, though, they are being examined for their cancer prevention qualities. Garlic is twice as potent as the equivalent weight of onions, but onions are on sale everywhere. If you're going to get a Big Mac, get it with catsup and onion. Garlic has anti-cancer properties say scientists.
Another surprising cancer fighter is that Swiss army knife of medications, aspirin. Aspirin is protective against a variety of cancers... e. g., cancer of the colon. The reason given is that we need salicylates, but our foods no longer have a lot of salicylates in them.
Dietary Guidelines Upon Which the Medical Community Can Agree.
|Fruits and Vegetables||Eat at least 5, and preferably 9, half-cup servings of brightly colored fruits and vegetables a day (per the National Cancer Institute) (Low-sodium V8 juice?)|
| Tops on the list are
blueberries and strawberries,
followed by other berries.
Then come apples, purple grapes, and oranges, followed by other kinds of fruit (peaches, pears, cherries, etc.)
Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, Onion,
cauliflower, carrots, other dark-green,
leafy vegetables, beans,
Minimize corn, peas, rice, and potatoes (starchy vegetables)
Avoid avocadoes, and cocoanut products.
Spinach is a folate vegetable, high in folic acid and a myriad other nutrients. Popeye ate it for instant power (and generations of children have tried to sneak it to the dog under the table).
|Oatmeal, bulgur wheat, rye, sesame, etc. Ideally, these grains should not be baked or roasted.|
|Fish||Eat fish, and especially, northern, pelagic, fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, tuna, whitefish, and sardines (for their omega-3 fatty acids), but be careful about high concentrations of mercury and PCB's in these fish. I've found a local supermarket that carries farm-bred salmon, so twice a week, we feast on salmon steaks. Eating farm-bred salmon, we won't be exposed to mercury and to PCB's (although oceanic salmon aren't thought to be high in these pollutants, in contrast to tuna).|
|Avoid red meat. Eat pork, chicken and turkey sparingly. Avoid fatty cheeses and whole milk (I'm not sure about low-fat or no-fat dairy products.) Soy products, and soy milk are good substitutes.|
|Cholesterol||Since we generate our own cholesterol, it's hard to find anyone who won't recommend a low-cholesterol diet.|
|Eggs||Tommie and I eat mostly Egg-Beaters or their equivalent. When eating eggs, we eat mostly (but not exclusively) egg whites.|
(synthetic) and saturated animal fats. (I would rather eat
a little bit of butter than a little bit
of margarine. At least, butter is a
natural product. Only liquid margarines with no hydrogenated fats are
|Low-Fat Diets||One shift in dietary recommendations is that we need certain kinds of ("good") fats. Also, carbohydrates, and particularly, simple carbohydrates, are seen as worse than fat.|
|Sugars and Starches|| Potatoes, rice,
pasta, and baked goods are the same as their dry weight in refined
sugar. They're converted to sugar almost immediately in the
body. They should be eaten slowly and in moderation.
Diabetics can eat like others eat, but can't eat large quantities of sugars or starches at a sitting, and must eat at regular intervals during the day to keep their blood sugar levels fairly constant. We would probably benefit ourselves if we all ate like diabetics, with 4 or 5 smaller meals a day, and with an eye toward avoiding blood sugar surges.
|Sugar Substitutes|| I don't know enough
yet to offer an opinion. Aspartame is a lifeline for diabetics.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that isn't processed as a sugar.
You can probably find it at your local health food store. The only
problem is that it isn't used in sugar-free products.
I'm using Splenda, which is available at our supermarket.
In 1979, saccharine was said to be a carcinogen. Since it's still everywhere, and since the hullaballoo has died away, I presume that no one was able to prove that it was really harmful. The same may also be true of aspartame. The argument against it is that it's metabolized to methyl alcohol and formaldehyde in the body. However, it's 200 times sweeter than sugar, and a gram of it equal to two teaspoons of sugar. The counterargument is that the amount of methyl alcohol and formaldehyde that's produced is less than that found in a piece of fruit.
|Salt||Most of us eat too much salt. I've learned to like low-sodium products, and to flavor them with a salt-free salt substitute. When I first tasted potassium chloride, it tasted bitter and terrible. However, when I season food with it now, it tastes like salt (although the potassium chloride itself still tastes bitter and terrible).|
Hot Dogs, Ice
|We get Lean-Cuisine-type pizzas. Once in a while, we'll eat real pizza. Our occasional hot dogs are low-fat or fat-free. Low-fat, sugar-free ice cream, or fat-free, sugar-free cones at Baskin-Robbins are on our menu, as are occasional 97%-fat-free hamburgers. Wendy's is off-limits.|
It must be difficult to get
the medical community to agree on a set of nutritional guidelines. There are
conflicting results from competing studies, and besides that, it's always
difficult to get a consensus.
It's worth noting that the above dietary guidelines agree well with those for other degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's Disease, and with the mitigation of aging.
Tommie Jean and I have been following these guidelines fairly closely for a period of years. However, the significance of berries is something new. We've begun buying frozen blueberries and frozen strawberries at the grocery store, along with mixed frozen berries. We're using them to flavor a bowl of breakfast oatmeal. I've also learned to flavor Eggbeaters with a chopped-up olive in lieu of ham or bacon. We also snack upon apple and orange slices, and drink some orange juice with its pulp.
We love potatoes, we love rice, and we love pasta, but we're eating them sparingly, We also love bread, but we're eating a slice or two of 5-grain bread.
I snack on almonds.
The omega-3 fatty acids were first thought to protect Eskimos from the effects of their all-meat diets by reducing blood clotting. Later, however, it was realized that the brain and the cardiovascular system are built with omega-3 fatty acids. Now, omega-3 fatty acids have been fingered for possible prostate cancer prevention.
We've begun using ketchup or pizza sauce to flavor our steamed vegetables.