Anti-Aging Research Gains Momentum
"It's hard to live past 90 without getting lucky in the genes game," says science writer David Stipp. But what exactly are in those genes? What allows people to slow aging ... or even reverse aging? Scientists are starting to make headway in anti-aging research that may lead the next generation to live well over a century.
After years of study and reporting, David Stipp notes that no one seems to know what type of lifestyle centenarians live. Some eat a lot of cholesterol. Others exercise.
"About the only common thread is that today's centenarians have zero alcoholism. Too much alcohol will shorten your life for sure."
Still, there is hope that within our lifetimes, researchers will find a way to give us "bonus years" of good health.
Stipp is the author of "The Youth Pill," a new book that focuses on gene mutations that can double animals' lifespans.
Q. You say there's a difference between "snake-oil claims" and serious anti-aging science?
A. Nothing out there today is proven to work as anti-aging medication. People are rightly cynical about these claims.
But serious science has made huge progress in recent decades, and I'm pretty confident we are closer to discovering medications that will slow aging.
I'm not talking about anti-aging to rejuvenate your body. I'm not particularly interested in that. I'm interested in stuff that slows the rate of aging.
Q. Can you give me an example?
A. There are several in my book, but one is a landmark moment a year ago that studied the effect of rapamycin in mice.
Thanks to resveratrol, which is found in red wine, there are signals that middle-aged mice on high fat diets delayed formation of aging ailments. But the bottom line is that resveratrol, scientists reported, does not increase longevity in normally fed mice.
Now there is a study that indicates rapamycin extends the life span in mice that were started on the drug at about 20 months of age -- roughly equivalent to a 60-year-old person.