Is Aging Our Last Frontier?

Aging doesn’t have to include age-related diseases.

Typically, ‘the last frontier’ refers to an area that is last to be settled, explored, or developed. A few hundred years ago the ‘wild west’ of the United States was the last frontier. We have seen television shows and movies that focus on space (the galaxies) as the current ‘last frontier’.

The last of the final frontiers in medicine has seen amazing progress just in the 1900s. In the first 50 years of the 20th century, we saw the discovery of blood types in 1901, to the first laparoscopy of humans in 1910, to the detection of insulin as the key to treating diabetes in 1921, to the first dialysis machine in 1943.

After World War II, health care was advanced with the usage of the first heart-lung machine in 1953 which led to the first artificial heart in 1963, to the introduction of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 1971 which led to the first commercial MRI scanner in 1980, to the first cloned animal, Dolly the sheep, in 1996.

We are continuing to see major discoveries and practical and lower-cost therapies used in daily life that were unheard of one hundred years ago or even 50 years ago. Life expectance was 31 years of age in 1900 worldwide. In 1950, the world average jumped to 48 years of age. By 2017, the average accelerated to 72.2 years of age.

I wrote a book a few years ago describing two major causes of aging and the collateral things we do daily to accelerate or decelerate the aging processes. The natural decrease in the body’s manufacture of human growth hormone (HGH) causes us to age and raises the risks of age-related diseases. The accelerated loss of telomere length during cell replication is caused by poor lifestyle choices.

Our lifestyle is our biggest hurdle to fantastic health and longevity. Very recently my neighbor’s mother-in-law passed away. She was 61 years of age and died of complications of diabetes. That should never happen! In talking to him I found out that she loved her food and would not give up eating certain types of food even though her doctors told her to. It was a lifestyle choice she had made, and it brought her life to an end a decade or more too soon.

We allow ourselves to get ourselves out of shape, put on a few pounds, and before you know it, we are thirty, forty, or more pounds overweight. Our lifestyle choices are too blame. We try to change them without much success. Why, when our future health depends on it?

I have written already on several options to increase HGH and to decrease the rate of loss of telomeres. Today, I want to broach a new topic, senescent cells.

The cells in our bodies age, just like our bodies age. Your telomere shortens to a preset length and the cell is programmed to die. We lose over 50 billion cells daily as part of life. Sometimes the cell doesn’t die. They are called senescent cells. They interfere with the process of aging. These senescent cells accelerate aging processes.

Senescent cells shorten our lives by hampering organ function, increasing chronic inflammation, and releasing protein destroying enzymes. Senolytics is the term used to stop and reverse the actions of senescent cells. Scientists have found some compounds that selectively attack and destroy senescent cells. Removing senescent cells improves our lifespan and reduces the risks associated with age-related diseases, such as heart failure, Alzheimer’s, and lung disease.

The Mayo Clinic is active in senolytic research. Two compounds that have tested well are quercetin and dasatinib. One is a natural compound, quercetin, found in fruits and vegetables. The other, dasatinib, is a prescription drug given to patients with leukemia. The dosage of dasatinib used in their studies is a tiny percentage compared to the normal amount used in leukemia treatment.

Human studies have been completed and the clinical results published. Like any longevity study, it is difficult to tell how much longer a person will live based on studies done today. It takes many years to see an extension of lifespan. The results of this study did prove that human studies were favorable and that biomarkers indicated the potential to reduce the risk of some age-related diseases.

Two observed phenomena of senescent cells increasing the risks of age-related diseases were focused on heart disease. Senescent cell accumulation in the heart can enlarge heart muscle cells and cause rigidity of heart muscle tissue. Senescent cells disrupt normal operations of healthy cells surrounding them.

Trials were done with mice to test the effectiveness of senolytic treatments on heart disease. The results showed an 80% reduction in the number of senescent cells, a 25% reduction in muscle cell enlargement, and a 40% reduction in fibrosis (stiffening) of heart muscle tissue.

These test results and others suggest that senolytic research might be an effective frontier for longevity enhancement. The May 17, 2019, Science magazine published additional information on senescent cell effects on human health, especially cancer, and the subsequent value of senolytic compounds to fight cancer. My favorite magazine, Life Extension (Winter 2019) has many more details beyond what I wrote about in this article.

This is an exciting area of research to evaluate the final frontier of our life expectancy so that we can truly enjoy life to the fullest.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin

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