Healthy Life Extension
My Milestone Birthday
Dear Future Centenarian,
It's today! And the only thing that doesn't suck about it is, I'm alive and well.
How I envy they young! At least their prospects for long futures.
Fifty was no big deal. It came and went without a second thought except for an insert in my daily planner that read "The first 50 years of my life."
Sixty was different. I hardly thought about it until THE DAY. The 59th year and 364th day of my life was like any other.
Then "wham!" The psychological impact the next day hit me hard. Physically, I felt the same. But the next ten years, and especially the last few, seemed to age me more rapidly than before. Was it because aging accelerates as we get older? Was it due to stress? Could it be possible that I caused it by somewhat obsessing over aging? Or maybe it's just my imagination.
Whatever. Even though I seem to function just as well as before, and even though my strength and endurance didn't seem to fade over the past twenty years, I certainly don't look like a kid anymore. And for the first time during the month's leading up to my 70th birthday, I was conscious of the impending milestone.
One particular "friend" doesn't help by continually reminding me of my age. He lives in the past, figuring his life is a dead end and doesn't understand when I insist mine is just starting. As you can imagine, I try to stay as far away from him as possible.
In spite of not seeing the small print as well (or even the medium print) I don't notice any deterioration in my cognitive or physical activities. (BYW, has anyone seen my car keys? While you're looking, see if you can find my glasses too.)
This is the first time in my life that I feel a chapter has been turned. I certainly don't feel old, but I do feel more MATURE. I'm not as delusional about successfully flirting with the young girls, I care less and less about covering up my ever-increasing gray hairs, and I feel more urgency than ever to get the research done as fast as possible.
I did enjoy a pre-birthday birthday party with my cousin, my ex and some other close friends. My ex reminded me that she's almost as old as I was when we met. I then pointed out that I looked so much younger then that she looks now. Actually, that's not true at all. She looks unbelievingly great, but she, like me and everyone at our table are aging faster than we'd like.
Having said all that, life is good. 70 is a stimulating reminder and more incentive to keep my eye on the life extension ball and to spend less time on mundane escapist thoughts and activities.
So I certainly don't consider 70 as old. But other people do, and that's probably what bugs me. One day, the public's perception of old will move far forward as we slow and reverse the biological effects of aging. And I anticipate the day when every adult will be ageless.
Meanwhile, 70 sucks in so many ways¦ and is positive in many others.
P.S. Today's page in my daily planner says "The first 70 years of my life."
Latest Headlines from Fight Aging!
Early Mortality Rates Predict Late Mortality Rates - Friday, May 24, 2013
In past centuries exposure to infectious disease and malnutrition caused high mortality rates in children. Those who survived did so with a greater burden of various forms of low-level biological damage.
Degenerative aging is caused by an accumulation of damage and thus remaining life expectancy is reduced. Researchers here dig up historical demographic data that supports this view, showing that people who survived high childhood mortality went on to live shorter lives on average.
Decellularization May Enable Use of More Donor Organs - Friday, May 24, 2013
Decellularization is the process of taking an existing organ and stripping its cells, leaving the intricate skeleton of the extracellular matrix intact.
That can then be repopulated by a patient's own cells to recreate a donor organ for transplant, though only a few organs have been successfully rebuilt in this way so far. As a technique this has many advantages over simple transplants: it removes the possibility of immune rejection, makes the use of animal organs practical, and rehabilitates donor organs that would otherwise be unsuitable.
Arguing for the Role of Nuclear DNA Damage in Aging - Thursday, May 23, 2013
There is some debate over whether the accumulation of damage to nuclear DNA contributes meaningfully to degenerative aging. It certainly raises the odds of cancer, but are its effects beyond that significant?
Here is an open access paper in search of evidence, in which the authors suggest that epigenetic changes in individual cells result from repair of significant forms of damage such double strand breaks.
The theory is that a growing disarray in cellular behavior is caused by scattered mutations and epigenetic changes, and this disarray contributes to aging, for example via degrading the ability of stem cells to maintain tissues - but again there are the questions of degree, and whether this sort of thing is significant in comparison to the other causes of aging.
The Unfolded Protein Response in Mitochondria - Thursday, May 23, 2013
The unfolded protein response is a housekeeping mechanism that repairs disarrayed protein machinery in cells or guides those cells to self-destruction if there is too much damage.
Like many cellular repair and quality control mechanisms, it appears to be associated with longevity via its effects on mitochondria - but in this case only in early life, which raises a number of as yet unanswered questions.
How Senescent Cells Can Promote Cancer Formation - Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Cells that have divided too many times or are damaged become senescent, removing themselves from the cell cycle as a protective measure that reduces the risk of cancer by preventing damaged cells from being active.
Senescent cells should be destroyed, either by the immune system or by the mechanisms of programmed cell death, but some evade this fate and their numbers grow with age. These cells exhibit a range of damaging behaviors: promoting senescence in surrounding cells, releasing compounds that harm nearby tissue structure, and so forth. Sadly, and despite their role in cancer suppression, they also serve to increase the risk of cancer.
A Better Understanding of Oligomers in Alzheimer's Disease - Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The biochemistry of Alzheimer's disease is complex, and the tools available to researchers only recently up to the task of deciphering it all. Understanding the way in which the condition develops is still an ongoing work in progress.
Macrophages Essential to Salamander Regeneration - Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Researchers investigate the ability of lower animals like the salamander to regenerate limbs and organs with the hopes that some of these mechanisms also exist in humans, just turned off at some point in our evolutionary history.
Even if this is not the case, it may be that a greater understanding of the mechanisms of salamander regeneration will lead to ways to improve human regenerative capacity./
A Look at First Generation Targeted Cancer Therapies - Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Ten years from now targeted therapies that selectively deliver cell-killing mechanisms to cancer cells will be the dominant method of treating cancer.
This sort of technology offers the prospect of removing cancer cells even after metastasis, and with few side effects.
A Review of Research Suggesting Retirement is Bad For Health - Monday, May 20, 2013
A recent publication by the Institute of Economic Affairs (PDF format) looks at studies that suggest retirement leads to worse long-term health and shorter remaining life expectancy.
You'll find the meaningful discussion on how researchers went about trying to identify cause and effect in the PDF rather than the press article quoted below: does the data actually show that retirement causes worsening health versus a tendency for people with worsening health to retire, for example?
Halting the Progression of Osteoarthritis in Mice - Monday, May 20, 2013
Osteoarthritis is one of the more common age-related conditions, and at the present time little can be done to treat the causes other than to alter lifestyle in ways that usually slow down the progression of the condition.
Signs of progress towards effective therapies are on the horizon, however.