I have often said I think the real disease we are fighting is Aging. I think that heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes etc are the many faces of accelerated aging in human beings.
I have focused my current efforts and research on the regenerative potential of telomeres and telomerase and stem cells.
While I do not believe any of our futures are fully predetermined I do have to pay attention to the sobering statistics we face as an aging society. After all these will be my future challenges as a doctor and a human being, just like you.
The number crunchers have a good news/bad news scenario for us. The good news is if you are reading this today you will probably outlive your parents by about 5 years. The other good news is that as we live longer fewer of us will die of heart disease which is still the number one killer of Western civilization by far.
The bad news is there is no guarantee that our later years will be any healthier than what we are watching with our seniors now. In addition there will be far more of us and far less money to spend on our care. Finally Alzheimer’s and Cancer will replace heart disease at least to some degree as late age diseases.
So when people accuse me of “being speculative” or “pushing the data” on how to stay young I ask the simple question, “You got a better idea?”
There are a couple of areas that I am sure hold the key to much healthier and as a result longer more productive happy lives.
Telomeres are a key as is the enzyme telomerase . In cell cultures and animals telomerase activation extends both health span and life span. And it does not increase the incidence of cancer.
Telomerase plays a key role in the aging of stem cells as well. Numerous experiments in the “age reversal” of adult cells into what are called iPSC have shown that telomerase is reset to a younger age functionally in these “de aged” stem cells.
Another critical area is the accumulated stem cell and genomic (DNA) damage that accumulates with aging. The recent study of the 115 year old woman, Hendrikje Van Andel-Schipper, showed 2 “surprising” findings. I put quotes around surprising because honestly neither of these things are surprising to any anti aging doc worth their salt. Still it is fabulous to see the correlation in the flesh so to speak and my immense gratitude to this lady for her contribution to science.
Ok what did they find that was so surprising?
They found that her genetic material (DNA) contains hundreds of mutations that would not be found in a normal human genome. This brings up a bunch of things but the most glaring is that we do not need perfect genomes to live a long time. This lady was mostly healthy until she died.
Next they found only 2 functional stem cells. Now that is really revolutionary. It means that stem cells die off like other cells do and that you can live with just a few left and still be healthy.
But it’s better not to have the damage and the stem cell exhaustion. I think that both can set you up for cancer and all of the other disease of aging. This lady truly may have “just been lucky” in that the random nature of this damage and stem cell exhaustion did not affect her longevity and health.
By the way it’s a good time for me to remind you that we strongly believe that telomerase activators work on stem cells as well. I could say they have to or we would not have seen the results in the human studies. But that is not a scientific statement, rather a common sense one and science exists to disprove common sense!
Or to prove it as well.
Bottom line is not I nor you should be content with placing our faith in luck to live longer healthier more joyous lives. We should be proactive or we should shut up and accept our fate.
That choice is yours but I have chosen and I live every day of my life with the goal of joy and health.
I cannot say I will not get cancer. I cannot say I will not get heart disease. But I can say I am much healthier than my parents at this age. And much stronger leaner and with a much younger outlook because of how I feel and what I do.
Protecting your DNA and lengthening your telomeres are not mutually exclusive.
All of the things I wrote about in the Immortality Edge and the new data I am collecting for the next book points to the essential nature telomeres and telomerase in the aging process.
Sometime in the near future I will show you the last 5 years of my telomere length measurements. Hint: they are better than ever!
Stay tuned and Stay Young!