Friday, October 25, 2019

Five myths about aging.

I want to pass on a few clips from this piece by William Mair, who researches the biology of aging at Harvard:
MYTH NO. 1 Biological aging can't be slowed. The growing field of geroscience offers hope... that genetic alterations and drugs such as rapamycin can slow the rate at which animals age.
MYTH NO. 2 Live fast, die young. Recent work shows that regular exercise helps slow key signs of aging, boosting immune function and curbing mental decline. If anything, conserving our batteries as isolated couch potatoes ages us faster.
MYTH NO. 3 Antioxidants slow aging. Free radicals...have captured the public imagination as a source of old age with little scientific evidence. There is in fact more negative data than positive examples.
MYTH NO. 4 Fewer calories mean a longer life. In truth, we just don’t know that the benefit of strict diets lies solely in their calorie content. Increasingly, it seems that many of the positive effects of calorie restriction on aging may be unrelated to caloric intake. Hungry animals and people tend to eat faster, and as a result spend more of their day eating nothing. These extended periods of abstinence are enough to slow aging in mice, whether overall calorie intake is reduced or not. The science uncoupling the effects of fasting and calorie restriction on aging is in its infancy.
MYTH NO. 5 Short telomeres explain aging. Aging is not caused by one event, however, as compelling as fraying telomeres may be. Some of our cells do not divide at all, and they age without shortened telomeres. Many animals have telomeres much longer than ours, yet they age faster than we do. Shortening telomeres may even be useful, protecting against unchecked cell division, which is a hallmark of cancer.

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