What's possible...100 years? 120 years? Are these reasonable numbers?
The National Geographic recently devoted 30 pages of
text and graphics to this most intriguing question: why are so
many more people living longer and healthier lives than past
generations? What does the future hold for the aging "baby
boomer" generation (those born just after the end of World
Genetics or lifestyle? What
are the major symptoms of aging? Can they be arrested, or at
least slowed down? What part do genes play in aging, and what
part lifestyle, location, nutrition, exercise or activity? How
does the brain affect aging, and our mental processes? What part
do hormones play in all this? Is there an aging hormone?
Genetics doesn't seem to be the whole answer, but good
genes may give you an edge.
Nutrition is definitely an extremely important factor in
What makes some people so vulnerable to
aging, while others remain so resilient for so long? How and
why do we decline as we age? Is there anything we can do about
it? These questions scientists are presently researching.
What about Alzheimer
Alzheimer is preventable, at least
theoretically. The memory loss and dementia of Alzheimer disease
may be due not to the disorder itself but to tiny unnoticed strokes.
Strokes are preventable. Something as simple as an aspirin a
day might prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer in some people, not
by curing it, but by preventing the strokes that do the bulk
of the damage. Getting control of the "free radicals"
may count for something. Watching what we eat and drink or don't
eat or drink may be a factor? What about body types and appropriate
diet for your body type? Controversial? Certainly! But there
may be something to it. We need to find out.
Is there an aging
there is a universal mechanism responsible for aging, and hopefully
there is, then we can perhaps put a brake on aging symptoms.
Remember, the scientific study of aging is only about 50 years
No single hormone holds the secret to youthfulness,
research studies so far indicate . Theoretically we can influence
the upper limit of the life span of humans. 120 years is not
an unreasonable expectation.
What about evolution? "In most
species individuals don't live very long after they've grown
old and infertile. Once an animal has lost its capacity to have
offspring, the prime directive of evolution, there is little
incentive for nature to favor its continued survival," to
quote the National Geographic's November 1997 issue.
Comment: this is more a philosophical issue at the moment than
a researchable question?
Among expert researchers on aging, some
disagree about the fundamental mechanism of aging. For some,
aging is linked to genetic programming; for others, it is a matter
mostly of physical wear and tear, especially exposure to oxygen.
What do we need
Some researchable topics related to
aging would be:
- how long will the cell continue to divide?
- are free radicals responsible for physical
and mental decline called aging?
- what about the metabolic rate: the slower,
the longer lived? Not in all species.
- is aging controlled by a molecular program,
a gene called age-1?
- does it matter how long the parents lived?
- are dietary factors like eating less,
reducing caloric intake by 60 percent important?
- and what about other dietary factors like
a diet low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables?
- is it true: use it or lose it?
This article is largely a recap of a fascinating article published
in the National Geographic, Vol 192, No.5, November
1997. "Aging - New Answers To Old Questions." by Rick
The National Geographic article
was corroborated in many respects from my reading of the
published research conducted by Drs. Evans, Ph.D. and Rosenberg,
M.D, published by Simon & Schuster in Biomarkers: the
10 determinants of aging you can control, 1991.
and relaxation training for longer and healthier living.