How Long Will It Be Until You Can Get an Anti-Aging Pill?

Last month a team of doctors and scientists made the case to regulators at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider approving anti-aging drugs as a new pharmaceutical class. Such a designation would treat aging as disease rather than a natural process, potentially opening the door to government funding for anti-aging drug trials.

Source: How Long Will It Be Until You Can Get an Anti-Aging Pill?

Aging is very expensive for post-industrial society. The reason why pensions, retirement plans and government stipends like social security exist is because many old people are not physically able to work anymore and have a huge range of medical conditions, all stemming from the frailty of aging, that need to be treated or, more likely, merely stanched and bailed out like a sinking ship.

A cure for aging would minimize these expenses, but now you have more people in the workforce who aren’t leaving any time soon.  The age of retirement gets pushed back, and the retirement planning changes.  There’s also the sociological impact of older people who continue living – lots these days have grandparents who are incredibly racist/bigoted.  I don’t advocate the death of simply because, but there is something to be said for a generation passing the torch so we can evolve.  Which also plays into health aspects, as an older generation is likely to be susceptible to something future generations might not.

There are some very serious implications to keeping people alive longer.

One Step Closer to Immortality, Study Safely Extends Telomeres

Researchers delivered a modified RNA that encodes a telomere-extending protein to cultured human cells. Cell proliferation capacity was dramatically increased, yielding large numbers of cells for study.

…The newly developed technique has an important advantage over other potential methods: It’s temporary. The modified RNA is designed to reduce the cell’s immune response to the treatment and allow the TERT-encoding message to stick around a bit longer than an unmodified message would. But it dissipates and is gone within about 48 hours. After that time, the newly lengthened telomeres begin to progressively shorten again with each cell division.

Source: Telomere extension turns back aging clock in cultured human cells, study finds

This is very important because the big danger in telomere lengthening is the immortalization of cells, meaning cancer.  Telomere lengthening is old hat but the transcience factor is huge for anti-cancer and immune response.  Reason being that transient telomere lengthening allows for a rejuvenation of cells without tumorigenesis. Safely reverting the senescence response is absolutely crucial to ending aging.  However if this telomere lengthening increases lifespan, then there’s more time in which you may develop cancer or other illness from a mutation.  Does this technique increase the chances of cancer above what you’d expect solely from having lived for a longer duration?

This could be the key to making it economical and practical to grow beef or chicken muscle in a manufacturing facility…  Vegetarians, how do you feel about sustainable lab-cultured meat?

That said, I’m quite worried about the impact to society and environment.  Competition for resources and work will increase as turnover because of retirement is less likely to happen.  And it’d be compounded by the continuing advancements in automated technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots.  Also:

You're just not fast food chain material

SMBC saw this coming

4 Studies: Mediterranean Diet is Good For You

The Mediterranean diet — higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and olive oil, and lower in dairy products and meat — has long been cited for its health-promoting benefits. Researchers have new clues as to why.  They found that the diet was associated with longer telomeres, the protective structures at the end of chromosomes. Shorter telomeres are associated with age-related chronic diseases and reduced life expectancy.  The study, published in the journal BMJ, controlled for body mass index, smoking, physical activity, reproductive history and other factors, and found that the higher the score for adherence to the diet, the longer the telomeres.

…According to a study published, in Annals of Internal Medicine, sticking to a Mediterranean-style diet may help reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes, even when people don’t lose weight or increase exercise levels.

…According to another study, about 30% of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals, a large and rigorous new study has found.

…A study found that it also protects the brain. This association persisted even after controlling for almost two dozen demographic, environmental and vascular risk factors, and held true for both African-Americans and whites. People with high adherence to the diet were 19 percent less likely to be impaired

Sources:

Whether the Mediterranean Diet score is actually associated with longitudinal changes in telomere length is debatable given the individual heterogeneity in age-related telomere changes. If consuming a Mediterranean diet does truly change telomere length, it raises the question how many weeks, months or years would one need to consume a Mediterranean diet for it to alter telomere length?

We need to be careful about interpreting studies on potential anti-ageing factors that use telomere length as a measure of ageing. Telomere length is often used as a biomarker of ageing in cross-sectional cohort studies, based on the principle that telomeres are shortened during each cell division cycle. However, the reverse is also true that telomeres can be restored or even elongated by the enzyme telomerase reverse transcriptase each cell division cycle. In addition, the gene expression of telomerase reverse transcriptases vary depending on cell types, and is much higher in rapidly proliferating cells. For example in embryonic stem cells telomere length is maintained despite numerous cell divisions. Furthermore, in the first 3 years of life, telomere shortening in infants is more than fourfold higher than adults.

Any compound that activates telomerase – the enzyme that is responsible for maintenance of telomere length – should be tested extremely carefully in every possible way, because activation of telomerase is a well established hallmark of many cancers.

TL;DR: Telomere length is a poor marker for aging, because it varies drastically with age, in different cell types of our body, and the extent of telomere shortening depends on the initial baseline length; e.g., longer telomeres show more shortening over 5 years compared to shorter telomeres.

Drink 10 Cans Of Soda Per Day for One Month Results

It’s not news that soda is bad for us. But it is jarring to witness the physical effects drinking too much of it has on our waistlines.

Following in the body-hacking footsteps of Morgan Spurlock — the “Super Size Me” filmmaker who in 2004 ate three McDonald’s meals for 30 days straight — Prior began guzzling down ten 12-ounce cans of Coca Cola daily for one month to see how the whopping dose of added sugar would affect his healthy physique. He documented it all on his website, 10 Cokes A Day.

Source: This Is What Happens When You Drink 10 Cans Of Soda Per Day for One Month

That’s about 1 US gallon/3.5 L a day.

While the focus was weight gain, I’m more concerned about actual health because drinking large quantities of soda pop has led to developing heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).  Drinking soda pop was found to really deplete blood potassium levels.  There’s also documented risk of stroke…  And that’s besides the recent news about telomere shortening.

Fitness and health is more than just body fat.

Study: Drinking Soda Pop Daily can Shorten Your Life

Researchers at the University of California — San Francisco found study participants who drank pop daily had shorter telomeres — the protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells — in white blood cells. Short telomeres have been associated with chronic aging diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer

Source: Drinking pop daily can shorten your life: Study

The article is quite brief – here’s a link to the study.  They performed a cross-sectional study across ~5,000 adults, looking at the effect of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), non-carbonated SSBs, diet soda, and fruit juices. They adjusted for socio-demographic and health-related characteristics, and found that SSBs are correlated with shorter telomeres; fruit juice with longer telomeres, and no difference for diet sodas and non-carbonated SSBs.  They might have been looking at a lot of different nutrition factors and only reported those which appeared significant after the experiment (obligatory XKCD)

TLDR: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells’ Telomeres

Something else to keep in mind is that consuming crbon dioxide (CO2) rapidly, as happens when drinking carbonated beverages, leads to stomach expansion. The stomach is capable of increasing in size to accommodate a large meal but if the practice is habitual the stomach will actually grow in size permanently. There is a nerve where the esophagus meets the stomach that triggers when the stomach is full. When triggered it tells the brain to stop eating (you are no longer hungry). Studies have linked an enlarged stomach to overeating/obesity because of not feeling sated. While it may not have a direct link to obesity, there is evidence it may be indirectly linked.