The Truth about Human Aging - and anti-aging myths


In search of Immortality
Valued Senior Member
This is an article from Scientific American.

Antiaging products are big business--a multibillion-dollar industry. But the marketing of these products often misrepresents the science. Rather than let their silence imply compliance, 51 of the top researchers in the field of aging research collaborated to create a position paper that sets out the current state of the science.

A lot of myths dispelled. And although I find their statements dissapointing I find I am not at all surprised.

A quote from sciam...
The biomedical knowledge required to modify the processes of aging that lead to age-associated pathologies confronted by geriatricians does not currently exist. Until we better understand the aging processes and discover how to manipulate them, these intrinsic and currently immutable forces will continue to lead to increasing losses in physiological capacity and death even if age-associated diseases could be totally eliminated.

That basically says everything about our world of prosecution and defense. Translated, the AMA and their proponents say, what we prescribe is what we know - anything else you find on your own does not exist. Trust us, we will take care of you as long as you pay 50% of your income to us. And we will make sure this relationship continues for eternity...

(plot a rise of health related cost with inflation and rest of cost of living, soon you will see in what shape we are in)
The search for the fountain of youth will continue until it is found and I believe we as a species are very close to tasting it's bounty. Some people have said that you are only as young as you think you are. Well, speaking from a galactic citizens point of view, I'm only about a nanosecond old.

I would point to a very interesting chapter in Engines Of Creation titled Engines Of Healing. K. Eric Drexler points out that "people who survive intact until the time of cell repair machines will have the opportunity to regain youthful health and to keep it almost as long as they please. Nothing can make a person (or anything else) last forever, of course, but barring severe accidents, those wishing to do so will live for a long, long time."

{Please stand-by for the singularity.}
I think their concluding remarks weren't far off the mark, though this quote rather sums up the problem with the whole thing:

"Our language on this matter must be unambiguous: there are no lifestyle changes, surgical procedures, vitamins, antioxidants, hormones or techniques of genetic engineering available today that have been demonstrated to influence the processes of aging."

The problem with saying that, is that it essentially boils down to saying, "Let's wait until everybody using this stuff dies of old age, then we can compare the results to the control group, and tell you whether it works or not." I agree, that would be the scientifically conservative approach. Of course, they'd have to tell your decendents whether it worked or not, because you'd be dead.

Measuring whether a treatment actually retards aging is difficult, (One of their points is to deny that we have a way to do that!) and likely to take a long time. What we can do is set various measures of the effects of aging, such as healing rates, response to exercise, bone density, and see if THEY respond. And they do respond to some of these treatments, particularly human growth hormone suplementation.

Ok, one can argue that the people using that treatment are burning the wick at both ends, actually wearing their bodies out faster than if they'd left well enough alone, rather than setting back the clock a bit. That's not established one way or the other. What IS established is that their quality of life is better. So they're getting something for their money, even if it's not really slowed aging.

Bottom line? Essentially we're all suffering from a fatal illness, aging, and you've got the choice of whether to be in the experimental group or the control group, for the proposed treatments. It would be nice to wait until the experiment is concluded, but unless you're quite young, (I'm 43) you don't have that much time.
This also tells you that all the facial makeup, mud treatments in spa's, and other methods established today to strip you from your hard earned money is worth diddlly other than to make you feel good about yourself.
On the otherhand, some organic chemicals such as Turmeric do work for skin problems (has been used hundreds of years in the east). Just because we in the west have not tested it does not mean nothing works that we have not tested ....

Please dont tell a person in their sixties to wait for 50 years to find out the results of all these tests. That is not fair either.

Intelligent decision comes from the chemical, its possible effect and if similar items have been used in the past, somewhere reason to invent the wheel.
Aubrey D.N.J. de Grey is one of the scientists who endorsed the article. He is an active researcher in the biology of aging and he supports research initiatives to reverse aging. (See The SciAm article is extremely conservative. There is strong scientific evidence that Caloric Restriction should significantly extend the human life span. (It would be interesting to know what the authors of the article would consider to be proof of life extension. It’s not likely that long-term double blind studies will ever be done on life extension treatments.)
In fairness, they do mention that calorie restriction seems to work. (And that a vanishingly small number of people have the self-restraint to practice it to the required degree.) They suggest that investigation into the biochemistry of how it works might actually produce an effective aging treatment.

As I remarked to a friend at another forum, Scientific American is hardly the best source of information on science, unless you like your information late, watered down, and politically filtered. And life extension does have political implications.
Caloric restriction?

Thanks for the image...mine is better to the eyes....:D

I thought that was nutrition restriction or more like deficiency .... (involuntary)
Well, all jokes aside, the recipe for life extension via calorie deprivation is to eat a highly nutritious diet from early childhood, but one which has a lot less calories than you would feel comfortable with, so you're always hungry. Not a lot of people have the will power to voluntarilly be hungry all the time, with food everywhere within reach. In fact, in the life extension community they joke that this doesn't actually make you live longer, it just SEEMS to last forever...

A lot of the life extension, though not all of it, seems to come from delaying puberty. If you're getting enough to eat for that to come on schedule, you're eating too much. (It seems as though just delaying sexual maturity extends lifespans; Aging seems to start in earnest once you're an adult.) As a woman, if you're eating enough to have menstral cycles, you're eating too much for life extension. Essentially speaking, if you put your kids on this diet, they'd be taken away and you'd be charged with child abuse. If you put yourself on it, people would ask you how your chemotherapy was coming along.

And it only stretches out the part of your life during which you're doing it; If you're already middle aged, it might gain you a year or two, tops, at the price of decades of self-denial.
It makes sense from a cellular automata stand point...once you start the puberty, the age clock starts ticking. The nature thinks that you have say 20 years from puberty to start the progeny....then your job is over and you die.

So, the only way to prevent that is to find the mechanism that counts and starts the aging process and genetically manipulate it to stop the process - so that you always look as 30 years old.....
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be such a mechanism in humans; We're not salmon.

Rather, because in a natural setting we'd normally be dead in two or three decades, tops, we've evolved enough repair mechanisms and redundant systems to keep us in reasonable functioning order that long. Genes which would enable us to endure longer in good shape had no particular evolutionary advantage, because you'd almost always have been killed by something else before you got any use out of them. Worse still, if a gene comes along which has advantages for the first twenty years, and then causes things to go haywire, it was positively selected for, because the downside never had time to materialize.

Delaying puberty seems to help, as does starvation, because if you're caught in a famine, there's some advantage to hanging around until there's enough food to reproduce. That, and because as long as you're still growing, you keep ahead of the damage.

So there's no timer you could reset, just a matter of continual, accumulating damage, inadequate repair mechanisms, and a limited reserve of functional redundancy which is eventually exausted.

Slowing aging requires some combination of reducing the rate at which damage takes place, and enhancing the repair mechanisms. Reversing aging would require undoing damage which was badly repaired, and restoring lost redundancy. A lot of real difficult detail work, which I honestly don't think could be accomplished without the ability to execute complex algorithims at a cellular level. Meaning some kind of nanotech. Though you could undo most of the damage by simply replacing most of the body; It's only the brain itself which we can't avoid having to repair in detail.
Any A.G.E. Crosslink breakers can provide some relief in the right direction....

"Advanced Glycosylation End-products (A.G.E.s) are permanent glucose structures that form when glucose binds to the surface of proteins. Many of these proteins, including structural proteins such as collagen and elastin, play an integral role in the maintenance of cardiovascular elasticity function and vascular wall integrity. Diabetic individuals form excessive amounts of A.G.E.s earlier in life than non-diabetic individuals. This process can impair the normal function of organs that depend on flexibility for normal function, such as blood vessels and cardiac muscle. The formation of A.G.E. Crosslinks leads to increased stiffness of tissues, abnormal protein accumulation and organ dysfunction, which together cause many of the complications of aging and diabetes. Loss of flexibility of the vasculature leads to isolated systolic hypertension, which creates increased workload for the heart and may lead to myocardial hypertrophy and heart failure."