Huffington blog November 7, 2017
DARE TO BE 100
This title of an article from the Massachusetts General Hospital, June 13, 2017 inevitably caught my eye. A close reading reveals a broad survey of the current state of knowledge about the process of aging. The studies that are cited
run the gamut from basic bio- molecular mechanisms, to pharmacologic studies, to dietary implications, to epidemiologic, evidences.
En route it reviews the conclusions published in 2013 in a landmark publication titled the Hallmarks of Aging. “Aging results from an accumulation of cellular damage that outpaces the ability of cells to fix themselves. That in turn leads to the deterioration of tissues and to malfunctions that manifest themselves in age related diseases.” This statement comes close to what I personally have digested and summarized, “Aging is wear and tear minus repair.”
This MGH article properly observes that most of the above studies are performed in animals and their relevance to the human condition is unknown.
A fascinating emerging area is the observation that psychologic influences are particularly influential in aging studies. Centenarians seem to have psychologic strengths that buffer and protect from life’s challenges. Enthusiasm, warmth, discipline, and positive self efficacy are common characteristics of people over 100. Optimism is healthy. Social relationships, exercise, sleep, avoiding the exposure to pollution are lifestyle issues that are not susceptible to potential imagined life lengthening drugs.
Finally beyond the question of what will be required to make human lives longer and healthier is the matter of who will benefit. Massive health disparities already exist in the United States. The poorest 1% of Americans live 12 years less than the richest 1%. When. IF, we finally get the magic cocktail to make us live longer will it be so crazily expensive that only a few people will have access to it and be able to benefit?
Luigi Fontana, Director of the longevity research program at Washington University in St. Louis, concludes : “ the question is how can we change the system to give everyone the longest best lives they can lead?
It is increasingly clear that “Living Forever”, like the Perpetual Motion Machine, is as elusive today as it was in poor Ponce’s day.