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A Revolutionary Concept Slowly Gains Recognition

February 2005

By William Faloon

Deadly Role of Oxygen Radicals

Scientific American’s special issue provides abundant information on the destructive force of free radicals and how this relates to aging. The magazine described how oxygen radicals damage almost every critical component of cells, including DNA, proteins, and membranes.

Researchers interviewed by Scientific American describe how they were able to double the life span of insects by programming their genes to produce more natural antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase.14 They note that pigeons live 35 years, or about 12 times longer than rats of approximately the same weight—with the difference being that pigeons produce half as many free radicals as rodents do.

According to Scientific American, oxidants bombard the DNA inside our cells roughly 10,000 times each day, but many of the free radicals generated are intercepted and neutralized by antioxidants. They note, however, that free radical damage adds up over time and “the result just may be an older, frailer you.”

Encouragingly, researchers interviewed by Scientific American describe studies in which old rats looked and functioned like younger rats following oral administration of antioxidants.12 The researchers cautioned, however, that humans cannot expect the same benefits from most conventional supplements, as these do not supply the full spectrum of nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, and their nutrients may not be adequately disseminated throughout the body. Exceptions were nutrients like lipoic acid, which is uniquely able to boost antioxidant activity within the cell and protect against mitochondrial decay.

Critical Need to Keep Sugar Out

Of the various approaches to slowing aging, calorie restriction is considered the gold standard.15-31 The problem, of course, is that few people can adhere to a lifelong low-calorie diet.

Scientific American considered the beneficial bodily effects induced by calorie restriction, such as increased levels of the hormone DHEA and reduced blood levels of insulin and artery-clogging lipids.32-36 But one of the magazine’s most profound findings concerns calorie restriction’s effect of lowering glucose, which results in diminished cellular metabolic activity and fewer free radicals being generated.37 Scientific American produced a brilliant molecular drawing of how excess glucose may accelerate aging and how calorie-restriction mimetics could slow aging by blocking the ability of cells to use excess glucose.12

As members know, the Life Extension Foundation has been a pioneer in investigating compounds to mimic the beneficial effects of calorie restriction. Our research has uncovered the calorie restriction-mimicking effects of the drug metformin.38-42 Based on widely publicized findings about resveratrol, we are now seeking to ascertain whether this flavonoid can favorably alter genes that cause our bodies to degenerate with age.43-74

In reading Scientific American’s report on the broad-spectrum benefits of calorie restriction, the importance of keeping excess sugar out of one’s bloodstream becomes abundantly clear. People can now do this by taking relatively small amounts of super-soluble fiber before meals.

Life Extension Is Not A "Fad"

I will never forget a cynical newspaper reporter asking Saul Kent in 1983 whether the concept of life extension was just a “fad” like the hula-hoop. Saul responded that good health and long life are not fads, and that once people derive the benefitsof living a healthier lifestyle, they will not return to habits that induce illness, depression, and premature death.

To quote Victor Hugo, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” The concept of using scientific methods to extend the healthy life span may have been a radical new idea back in 1980, but based on the high level of interest in personal health issues, life extension’s time has come.

Reasons for Optimism

For those who think there is a limit to life span, Scientific American cites studies showing how the manipulation of genes in worms increased their life span to the human equivalent of 500 years.75-77 Scientific American goes on to point out how researchers can now make normal human cells live forever in a petri dish—something that scientists have long ridiculed as an impossibility.

If gene manipulation can be done in worms and human cell lines, how long will it be before it enables people to live for hundreds of healthy years? While pessimists reply “never” because human genomic structure is too complicated, groundbreaking research funded by Life Extension has already identified ways to measure the effects of anti-aging compounds on gene expression.78-81 This enables scientists to identify and validate ways to manipulate old cells to behave more like younger cells.

As the Life Extension Foundation enters its twenty-fifth year, the scientific community, the government, and even the news media are slowly recognizing that our concept of extending life is in fact technically feasible. This change in perception represents an enormous transformation in how humans view their role in the universe.

More Research Is Urgently Needed

As the New Year begins, we have reason to be optimistic about the prospect of living much longer than what is predicted by the mortality tables. We at Life Extension, however, are very much aware that time is not on our side. If our older members are to benefit from spectacular advances that may be only a few years away, the pace of scientific research must be accelerated.

The encouraging news is that new antioxidants have been discovered that significantly suppress damaging free radical and inflammatory reactions that are linked to underlying aging processes. These more potent antioxidants were introduced to Life Extension members less than two months ago, and several articles in this month’s issue elaborate on the science backing these enhanced formulations.

Every time you purchase a product designed to counteract age-related disease, you directly support our pioneering research. In 2004, the results of our work were published in several prestigious scientific journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.82-84 Equally important to our research programs is that the proceeds from our supplement sales help us to educate greater numbers of people about the need to prioritize research that would lead to cures for today’s killer diseases, while at the same time discovering validated methods to eradicate biological aging.

Because of our intensive work last year, Life Extension members can now obtain superior formulations that are priced lower and require swallowing fewer capsules than before. At this time of year, long-time members traditionally stock up on a large supply of Life Extension products. The reason is simple: until the end of this month, prices on all supplements are discounted below the low prices members enjoy throughout the year.

For longer life,

William Faloon


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