The anti‑aging myths


EXCERPT (Harriet Hall): . . . Aging is not an inevitable consequence for all life. There are some organisms that do not experience any decline in function as they get older, such as bristlecone pines. Lobsters don’t develop any signs of aging; they just keep getting bigger. Greenland sharks live over 500 years and don’t reach sexual maturity until they are 150 years old (that’s a long time to wait!). Certain jellyfish are apparently immortal.

David Sinclair is an anti-aging researcher who has a new book out called Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To. He claims that aging is a disease that can be treated and even prevented. He foresees a future where people will live much longer (maybe even forever?) and will enjoy good health and vigor in old age. He provides an excellent overview of intriguing recent research findings. Sinclair puts his money where his mouth is and applies the findings to his own health regimen:

• He takes a gram each of NMN, (nicotinamide mononucleotide) resveratrol, and metformin daily.
• He takes vitamin D, vitamin K2, and 83 mg. of aspirin daily.
• He limits sugar, bread, and pasta intake, doesn’t eat desserts, and avoids eating meat.
• He skips one meal a day.
• He gets frequent blood tests to monitor biomarkers; if not optimal, he tries to moderate them with food and exercise.
• He stays active, goes to the gym, jogs, lifts weights, uses the sauna and then dunks in an ice-cold pool.
• He doesn’t smoke.
• He avoids microwaved plastic, excessive UV exposure, X-rays, and CT scans.
• He tries to keep environmental temperatures on the cool side.
• He maintains a BMI of 23–25.

He thinks it is working for him. He feels younger. Maybe he’s right, but he admits “It’s impossible to say if my regimen is working … but it doesn’t seem to be hurting.” Some of what he does has been studied and is known to improve health (exercising, not smoking, controlling weight) but much of it is based on speculation and hope.

His regimen reminds me of Ray Kurzweil, who explains in his book Fantastic Voyage how he combed the literature looking for anything that might allow him to live long enough for science to discover the key to immortality, which will then enable him to live forever. He gets frequent scans, cancer screens, and blood tests. He takes 250 pills a day: diet supplements like gingko and vinpocetine. He also takes several Chinese herbs. He spends one day a week in a clinic getting IV infusions of nutrients, IV chelation, and acupuncture. He meditates and gets massages. He had his mercury amalgam fillings removed, uses an ionic air filter, and follows a strict organic diet. He fears cell phones, shower water, electric razors, plastic, the aluminum in deodorants, and sugar. He claims that shiatsu and acupressure massage are intended to correct imbalances according to principles of energy flow between different organ systems in the body. He thinks water can record memories. Despite his research, much of what he advocates is not supported by the scientific evidence.

In my review of Sinclair’s book for I explained why I found the research fascinating but didn’t find his arguments entirely convincing. In my opinion, both Sinclair and Kurzweil are overly optimistic and too willing to forge ahead before the evidence is in. Kurzweil is 71 and Sinclair is 50. Time will tell. If they both live well past 100, I might have to eat my words; but then I’ll probably die before they do. I’m 74 and have already lived longer than either of them—without the benefit of antiaging remedies... (MORE - details)

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