Superlongevity Part 2 and Extreme Life Extension

Living Longer and Healthier

Funding Aging Research

Superlongevity Part 2

posted on August 18, 2009

Last week, we discussed Dr. Nathaniel Branden and how continuing to build self-esteem makes life worth living.

Why do you think so many people eat, drink, sloth and smoke their way to sickness and an early grave? Some say they want to follow healthy lifestyles but keep falling off the wagon. Why do others substitute sustainable healthy habits for deadly habits? Obviously those have a stronger desire for good health and longevity. Building a strong psychological foundation makes good habit forming easier.

You™re not born with high self-esteem. Some of us lucked out and were born into families or environments conducive to high self-esteem though. Most of us weren™t so lucky and carried negative baggage into adulthood. By then, we should have attained a measurable amount of volition. At some point in our lives, we are all given the opportunity and the choice to boost self-esteem regardless of our current levels. They can always be higher

Strengthening self-esteem is like constructing a house. You establish a firm foundation and build up from there. But it™s not like building a house in the sense that you do it once and live in it for the rest of your life. Growth is a lifelong process, and an enjoyable one at that, once you start reaping your emotional, financial, romantic, spiritual, and health rewards.

Dr. Branden wrote THE book on self-esteem, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. You are lucky to this information available to you. When you read his book, it could be a life changer for you. He has also written extensively on the subject in various reports.

In a timeless 1990 essay, Dr. Branden contributed the following:

œTo the extent that we are confident in the efficacy of our minds”confident of our ability to think, learn, understand”we tend to persevere when faced with difficult or complex challenges. Persevering, we tend to succeed more often than we fail, thus confirming and reinforcing our sense of efficacy. To the extent that we doubt the efficacy of our minds and lack confidence in our thinking, we tend not to persevere but to give up. Giving up, we fail more often than we succeed, thus confirming and reinforcing our negative self-assessment.

œHigh self-esteem seeks the stimulation of demanding goals; and reaching demanding goals nurtures good self-esteem. Low self-esteem seeks safety of the familiar and undemanding; and confining oneself to the familiar and undemanding serves to weaken self-esteem.

œThe higher our self-esteem, the better equipped we are to cope with adversity in our careers or in our personal lives; the quicker we are to pick ourselves up after a fall; the more energy we have to begin anew.
The higher our self-esteem, the more ambitious we tend to be, not necessarily in a career or financial sense, but in terms of what we hope to experience in life”emotionally, creatively, spiritually. The lower our self-esteem, the less we aspire to, and the less we are likely to achieve. Either path tends to be self-reinforcing and self-perpetuating.

œThe higher our self-esteem, the more disposed we are to form nourishing rather than toxic relationships”since like is drawn to like, health is attracted to health, and vitality and expansiveness in others are naturally more appealing to persons of good self-esteem than are emptiness and dependency.

œAn important principle of human relationships is that we tend to feel most comfortable, most œat home, with persons whose self-esteem level resembles our own. High self-esteem individuals tend to be drawn to high self-esteem individuals. Medium self-esteem individuals are typically attracted to medium self-esteem individuals. Low self-esteem seeks low self-esteem in others. The most disastrous relationships are those between two persons both of who think poorly of themselves.

I know how filled your days must be. If you™re like me, you have a hard time finding the time to read anything outside your field. So if you don™t have the time to read The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, I urge you to at least read Dr. Branden™s short essay titled¦

¦What Self-Esteem Is and Is Not

Click on the following link now:

If you want to read Dr. Branden™s complete 1990 essay, go to this link:



(August 14 2009)
This open access paper contains an interesting discussion of genetic investigations in the oldest of people who manage to avoid age-related disease and stay comparatively healthy: "Individuals who live to 85 and beyond without developing major age-related diseases may achieve this, in part, by lacking disease susceptibility factors, or by possessing resistance factors that enhance their ability to avoid disease and prolong lifespan. Besides genes that have been shown to affect lifespan in animal models, a limited number of genetic variants have been reported to be associated with long life in humans. These studies mainly evaluated genetic variation linked to extreme human life spans (e.g. centenarians) without focusing specifically on health. Controversy exists regarding the contribution of these and other gene variants to aging and longevity, because replication studies in different populations, as for replication studies in complex diseases, more often than not fail to confirm the initially reported associations. Healthy aging is a complex phenotype likely to be affected by both genetic and environmental factors. We sequenced 24 candidate healthy aging genes in DNA samples from 47 healthy individuals aged eighty-five years or older (the 'oldest-old'), to characterize genetic variation that is present in this exceptional group. These healthy seniors were never diagnosed with cancer, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, or Alzheimer disease."

Cancer mortality rates have declined for decades now, a trend that we should expect to see continue and accelerate given the technology demonstrations emerging from the laboratories: "Our efforts against cancer, including prevention, early detection and better treatment, have resulted in profound gains, but these gains are often unappreciated by the public due to the way the data are usually reported. Cancer mortality rates are usually reported as composite age-adjusted rates.  These rates have been declining modestly since the 1990's. However, these statistics heavily emphasize the experience of the oldest Americans for whom mortality rates are the highest. As a result, trends emerging in younger Americans can be concealed. As an alternative to age-adjustment, Kort examined cancer mortality rates stratified by age and found that for individuals born since 1925, every age group has experienced a decline in cancer mortality. The youngest age groups have experienced the steepest decline at 25.9 percent per decade, but even the oldest groups have experienced a 6.8 percent per decade decline."

Here biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey defines "regenerative medicine" somewhat more broadly than just stem cell therapies and enhanced healing: "The human body is, ultimately, a machine - an astronomically complex machine, of whose workings we remain pitifully ignorant - but still a machine. Like any machine, it accumulates 'damage' as a side-effect of its normal operation: molecular and cellular changes that occur throughout life are initially harmless, but eventually (when too abundant) increasingly impede the normal operation of the machine and eventually cause it to fail altogether. The relevance of nearly all biogerontology research to combating aging is restricted to the potential for slowing down the accumulation of molecular and cellular damage that eventually leads to age-related ill-health. Meanwhile, regenerative medicine has been progressing rapidly and is nearing clinical applicability to a wide range of specific conditions. My view is that we are approaching the point where regenerative medicine can be used against aging. This would entail not retarding but actually reversing the accumulation of damage. If successful, this would obviously be a far more valuable technology than mere slowing of aging. However, in order to be successful it must be comprehensive, and some aspects of aging may seem impossible to address in this way. In fact, however, it seems that all types of molecular and cellular damage which contribute to age-related ill-health are realistic targets of regenerative interventions."

FuturePundit looks at one of a number of studies showing calorie restriction to reduce the risk of cancer: "Previous studies have shown that intermittent calorie restriction provided greater protection from mammary tumor development than did the same overall degree of restriction, which was implemented in a chronic fashion. The researchers compared changes of a growth factor (IGF-1) in relationship to these two calorie restriction methods - chronic and intermittent - and tumor development beginning in 10-week old female mice at risk to develop mammary tumors. Their hope was to explain why intermittent restriction is more effective. The overall degree of restriction was 25 percent reduction compared to control mice. Mammary tumor incidence was 71 percent in the control mice who ate the amount of food they wanted, 35 percent among those who were chronically restricted and only nine percent in those who intermittently restricted calories." Which is further evidence for those who suspect that intermittent fasting operates through different biochemical mechanisms to calorie restriction, despite a similar outcome in terms of extended health and longevity.

VETERINARY USE OF STEM CELL THERAPIES (August 12 2009) The widespread veterinary use of stem cell therapies in past years well demonstrates that there is no good reason for regulatory barriers blocking human application of these technologies: "Vet-Stem, a Poway, Calif.-based company, is developing the stem cell therapy and began treating horses in 2003. It derives stem cells from fat samples taken from dogs and horses across the country. The procedure has been used mainly to treat osteoarthritis, which involves loss of cartilage in the joints, but Vet-Stem is researching treatments for other diseases. Vet-Stem claims the therapy enables animals to replace cartilage and other tissue. Since 2003, the privately held company has treated 3,500 horses and 1,500 dogs and plans to begin treating cats later this year. More than 1,500 vets are licensed to use the procedure. Really, all we're doing is harnessing the existing repair machinery in the body, concentrating it, and putting it right where an injury occurs, where healing is needed, to heal naturally. One peer-reviewed [study] sponsored in part by Vet-Stem, found that tendinitis in horses was improved by injection of the adult stem cells. Two other studies published in Veterinary Therapeutics found that dogs with osteoarthritis showed improvements in lameness after stem cell injections. Those studies also were sponsored by Vet-Stem and conducted by Vet-Stem researchers and other veterinarians."

NOTE:  I have been to their lab and have also witnessed their procedure on horses. The results were nothing short of amazing!

This research group proposes that Sirt3 acts on longevity through increasing antioxidants - we should all be appropriately skeptical, given the very mixed evidence for links between cellular antioxidants and longevity. That said, Sirt3 is located in the mitochondria, and the demonstrations of extended life spans through increased antioxidants have involved targeting those antioxidants to the mitochondria. "Sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) is a member of the sirtuin family of proteins that promote longevity in many organisms. Increased expression of SIRT3 has been linked to an extended life span in humans. Of the 7 SIRT analogues, SIRT3 is the only member whose increased expression has been linked to the longevity of humans. Polymorphism in the SIRT3 gene promoter, which leads to gene activation, has been found to be associated with an extended life span of man. The molecular basis of SIRT3-dependent longevity is, however, not known. In primary cultures of cardiomyocytes, Sirt3 blocked cardiac hypertrophy by activating the forkhead box O3a“dependent (Foxo3a-dependent), antioxidant“encoding genes manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) and catalase (Cat), thereby decreasing cellular levels of ROS. These results demonstrate that SIRT3 [protects] hearts by suppressing cellular levels of ROS."

Creating patient specific blood cells will enable many, many applications - especially in an era of immune therapies. Even the simple ability to greatly multiply the number of white blood cells in a patient's body for a short while can be profoundly beneficial. Here is an update on progress towards engineered blood cells made to order: "In an advance that could help transform embryonic stem cells into a multipurpose medical tool, [scientists] have transformed these versatile cells into progenitors of white blood cells and into six types of mature white blood and immune cells. While clinical use is some years away, the new technique could produce cells with enormous potential for studying the development and treatment of disease. The technique works equally well with stem cells grown from an embryo and with adult pluripotent stem cells, which are derived from adult cells that have been converted until they resemble embryonic stem cells. If the adult cells came from people with certain bone marrow diseases, the new technique could produce blood cells with specific defects. It could also be used to grow specific varieties of immune cells that could target specific infections or tumors."

As researchers continue to discover and manipulate the mechanisms of cell programming, the new knowledge generated will impact many other fields of medicine: "research links cancer development with difficulties in the new technology of reprogramming normal cells into becoming like embryonic stem cells. Nearly all cancers have a disabled p53 gene. The gene causes cells that have experienced major genetic damage, which puts them at high risk of turning malignant, to self-destruct. While several mutated genes are implicated in cancer, p53 appears to be the most important one. When the p53 gene is removed, normal cells can be reprogrammed into stem cells with a tenfold greater success rate. If the link is confirmed by other researchers, it would undermine a popular hypothesis that cancers arise from 'cancer stem cells,' caused by genetic changes in stem cells. [Instead] cancer could begin when normal cells spontaneously reprogram themselves, for reasons yet unknown, beginning the process that results in a cancerous tumor. A better understanding of how to cause reprogramming could provide clues about how this might arise spontaneously. And that knowledge could be useful in developing cancer-fighting therapies."

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