posted on January 13, 2009
One of the advantages of old age is your increased ability to reflect. You can reflect on the mistakes you made and on your regrets as some people choose to do most of the time. That™s called dwelling. Or, you can briefly reflect on those negative experiences and learn from them. That™s called wisdom.
An even more positive form of reflection is value reflection. No matter whom you are or how you measure your levels of happiness and success, you definitely have created and/or experienced values during your lifetime. Value reflection is one of the most rewarding and pleasurable experiences of life. Who doesn™t like to relive happy memories? Who doesn™t take pride and pleasure in looking back on the positive contributions you made to society, your market, your family, your friends and to yourself?
We all carry within us a treasure of values to be proud of, and with each passing year, that treasure grows, whether you are aware of it or not.
With extended longevity, imagine your possibilities. Not only is technology growth exponential, but so is personal growth. And if you remain vibrant, your enthusiasm can actually intensify with age.
In past issues, I wrote about how the power of technology doubles every year, including the technology that contributes to radical life extension. That means next year will see a doubling of all that power we made since the beginning of history. And here is what that means to you:
If you take the healthy steps to live an extra year, the technology that could lead to your open ended lifespan doubles in that year. If you decide to adopt a lifestyle that adds ten more quality years to your life, life enhancing technology will increase by over 1000 times! And then if you try just a little harder and add another extra year, the power of that technology will double to 2000 times. That means your 11th extra year was just as beneficial to you as those first extra ten.
Then add another year and¦ well, you get the idea. Before you know it, we will have cracked the longevity code, and you will be on your way to endless youth.
And what could one of the most pleasurable things about that be? As I said, more and more years to add happiness and value and even better value reflection. Imagine what you can accomplish in two lifetimes. In three or more. Imagine how big your values treasure chest will grow as you exponentially acquire wisdom.
LATEST HEALTHY LIFE EXTENSION HEADLINES
The Life Expectancy Puzzle of Left-Handedness (December 05 2008) http://pmid.us/19044215
Many identified differences in human longevity between groups lack conclusive explanations, such as why women have a greater life expectancy. Differences in life expectancy due to handedness are another puzzle: "Many studies report that left-handers have a shorter longevity than right-handers, and the present study may provide a possible explanation for that finding. In a Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit for the elderly with a mean age of 75.2 years the prevalence of left-handers was 16.7%. This latter value was significantly different from the 6.7% in controls of similar age. These data suggest that heart disease may be one reason for a reduced longevity among left-handers. Left-handers use the right hemisphere for movement, and unilateral activation of that hemisphere in the form of EEG desynchronization and deactivation in the form of EEG slow waves are both related to cardiac abnormalities." In the grand scheme of things these differences are unimportant: the greatest determinant of our future longevity is progress in the application of aging research.
On Immunosenescence (December 05 2008) http://pmid.us/19047800
Researchers discuss the failing, age-damaged immune system: "At present, individuals can live up to 80-120 years, a time much longer than that of our ancestors, as a consequence of the improvements in life conditions and medical care. Thus, the human immune system has to cope with a lifelong and evolutionarily unpredicted exposure to a variety of antigens, which are at the basis of profound age-related changes globally indicated as immunosenescence, a multifaceted phenomenon that increases morbidity and mortality due to infections and age-related pathologies. The major changes occurring during immunosenescence are the result of the accumulation of cellular, molecular defects and involutive phenomena (such as thymic involution) occurring concomitantly to a hyperstimulation of both innate and adaptive immunity (accumulation of expanded clones of memory and effector T cells, shrinkage of the T cell receptor repertoire, progressive activation of macrophages), and resulting in a low-grade, chronic state of inflammation defined as inflammaging. It is unknown whether inflammaging, which represents a risk factor for most age-related pathologies, is a cause or rather an effect of the aging process. Centenarians seem to be equipped with gene variants that allow them to optimize the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory molecules, and thus to minimize the effects of the lifelong exposure to environmental insults and stressors."
Dormant Emergency Stem Cells (December 04 2008) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-12/haog-dsc120408.php
An intriguing discovery from a cancer research group that I suspect has more promise for the field of regenerative medicine: "Up to now, scientists have assumed that adult stem cells have a low division rate. According to theory, they thus protect their DNA from mutations. [Researchers] have now discovered a group of stem cells in mouse bone marrow that remain in a kind of dormancy [and] divide only about five times throughout the life of a mouse. Translated to humans, this would correspond to only one cell division in 18 years. In contrast, stem cells of the larger group, the 'active' stem cells, divide continuously about once a month. However, in an emergency such as an injury of the bone marrow or if the messenger substance G-CSF is released, the dormant cell population awakes. Once awakened, it shows the highest potential for self-renewal ever to be observed in stem cells. If transplanted into irradiated mice, these cells replace the destroyed bone marrow and restore the whole [blood] system. It is possible to isolate new dormant stem cells from the transplanted animals and these cells are able to replace bone marrow again “ this can be done several times in a row. The situation is different with 'active' stem cells, where bone marrow replacement can successfully be carried out only once."
Evidence Against the Cancer Stem Cell Theory (December 03 2008) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-12/uom-usp112608.php
It would be good for all of us if the cancer stem cell theory turns out to be true for even a majority of cancer types - as this would mean that a side-effect of stem cell research will be a cure for cancer. Unfortunately, there are good reasons to believe that this will not be the case; nothing in human biochemistry is as simple as we'd like. From EurekAlert!: "the cancer stem-cell model [must] be reassessed because it is based largely on evidence from a laboratory test that is surprisingly flawed when applied to some cancers. I think the cancer stem-cell model will, in the end, hold up for some cancers. But other cancers, like melanoma, probably won't follow a cancer stem-cell model at all. Scientists previously estimated that only one in 1 million melanoma cells has the ability to run wild, exhibiting the kind of unchecked proliferation that leads to new tumors. These aggressive interlopers are the cancer stem cells, according to backers of the model. But after updating and improving the laboratory tests used to detect these aberrant cells, [researchers] determined that at least one-quarter of melanoma cells [have] the ability to form new tumors. The assay on which the field is based misses most of the cancer cells that can proliferate to form tumors. Our data suggest that it's not going to be possible to cure melanoma by targeting a small sub-population of cells."
Senescent Cells and Cancer (December 03 2008) http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0060301
One of the consequences of an aging immune system is that it stops removing senescent cells - certainly, senescent cells increase dramatically with age. Here is a look at why that process is likely to increase your cancer risk: "Although 'cellular senescence' can suppress tumor formation from damaged cells by blocking the cell division that underlies cancer growth, it has also been implicated in promoting cancer and other age-related diseases. To understand how this might happen, we measured proteins that senescent human cells secrete into their local environment and found many factors associated with inflammation and cancer development. Senescent cells promote the growth and aggressiveness of nearby precancerous or cancer cells. Our findings support the idea that cellular senescence can be both beneficial, in preventing damaged cells from dividing, and deleterious, by having effects on neighboring cells; this balance of effects is predicted by an evolutionary theory of aging." Senescent cells are a prime target for the same sorts of discerning therapies being developed to kill cancer cells with no side-effects.
Towards Tuning the Immune System (December 02 2008) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081130153102.htm
Researchers are making good progress towards control over immune cells, and future goals seems likely to be applicable to the restoration of some function to an age-damaged immune system. Researchers have identified "seven different receptors on T cells that can tamp down immune responses during a prolonged battle with an infectious pathogen or against developing cancer. Chronic over-stimulation of the immune system can lead to poor control of infections and cancer, so the results explain why it is that these key immune cells gradually become 'exhausted' and ineffective over time. We are starting to see a picture emerging of a really tuneable array of inhibitory receptors expressed on T cells. That suggests it may be possible to not only dramatically enhance antiviral or antitumor T cell responses, but also to fine tune which response you want to enhance in order to reverse T cell exhaustion and continue fighting an infection or disease. This presents us with a great clinical opportunity. T cells have a lot of weapons at their disposal to control viral infection and most of them are disarmed when these cells become exhausted. It may be possible to selectively rearm T cells while generally reinvigorating them."
More on Exercise and the Aging Brain (December 01 2008) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-12/rson-ehp112508.php
It's well worth remembering that regular exercise brings benefits that no present medical technology can match-and at a fraction of the cost of medicines that do far less. EurekAlert! notes that researchers compared "brain scans of older adults who exercise to brain scans of those who do not. The researchers recruited 12 healthy adults, age 60 to 76. Six of the adults had participated in aerobic exercise for three or more hours per week over the last 10 years, and six exercised less than one hour per week. All of the volunteers underwent MRI to determine cerebral blood flow and MR angiography to depict blood vessels in the brain. Researchers were able to make 3-D models of the blood vessels and examine them for shape and size. They then compared the blood vessel characteristics and how they related to blood flow in both the active and inactive groups. The results showed that the inactive group exhibited fewer small blood vessels in the brain, along with more unpredictable blood flow through the brain. The active adults had more small blood vessels and improved cerebral blood flow. These findings further point out the importance of regular exercise to healthy aging."