LONGEVITY MEME NEWSLETTER
September 22 2003
The Longevity Meme Newsletter is a biweekly e-mail containing news, opinions and happenings for people interested in healthy life extension: making use of diet, lifestyle choices, technology and proven medical advances to live healthy, longer lives.
MORE REASONS TO TRY CALORIE RESTRICTION NOW
Low calorie diets (with calorie restriction as the diet with the greatest weight of scientific testing behind it) are still very much in the news. We can hope that this is here to stay; calorie restriction is the only proven-beyond-a-doubt, currently available method of extending healthy lifespan. The more people who are introduced to calorie restriction and other low calorie diets, the better.
An article from the New York Times last week reminds us that the beneficial effects of calorie restriction kick in as soon as you start:
This article doesn't mention previous research on changes in gene expression in mice brought on by calorie restriction, but that research also demonstrated that the effects start quickly. So if you're basically healthy now, get started on calorie restriction! You owe it to yourself to at least try this diet for a few months. The following page on the Longevity Meme offers some helpful advice on getting started easily and painlessly:
Dr. Mercola also offered some useful references recently for people thinking about starting a low calorie diet:
As always, talk to your physician before making dietary changes, especially if you suffer from any serious condition or are taking medication.
WHILE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT PHYSICIANS...
Building a relationship with a physician you trust is very important for your long-term health and longevity. Talking to your physician about your health and taking physicals on a regular basis is also very important. Many life-threatening conditions can be caught and treated early on, especially in this age of rapidly advancing medical technology. You have to find a physician who works for you, however. A disinterested doctor is not a doctor who will do wonders for your health.
Many people have a fascination with pills, medical technology and the advance of science. It is good to be informed; after all, if you are not informed, you will have a hard time identifying a good physician with the right skills, knowledge and opinions. Most medical information is far less useful (even useless!), however, without a trained physician to help you make sense of it and identify what is helpful for you. The difference in quality between general medical advice and personalized medical advice is enormous. People vary greatly, and what is beneficial for one person can be useless or even harmful for another.
Many people put off visiting a physician until they have to. Don't be one of them, and you will have already helped yourself to live healthily for a little longer.
NEW RSS AND SYNDICATION
You may have noticed a sprouting of orange XML logos on the Longevity Meme in recent days. For the benefit of those of you who use news aggregators to keep track of news, articles and newsletters, we have added RSS access to the Longevity Meme content. You can find out more about our syndication, RSS and news aggregators by starting here:
Clicking on the orange XML logos will take you directly to the RSS feed in question. If you go there using a standard web browser, it won't look like anything readable! These pages are designed for access by news aggregator software rather than humans. For a more general, gentle introduction into how news aggregators can help you manage your access to news online, you might want to read this piece:
PAST NEWSLETTERS ARE NOW ONLINE
Visit the main Longevity Meme newsletter page and scroll down to view past newsletters in an agreeable format:
As always, you should feel free to pass the individual newsletter links around to friends, co-workers, and anyone else you know. Spreading the word about the Longevity Meme is a good deed. The more people who know about the potentials of healthy life extension, the more likely it is that real age-retarding medicine will be developed soon enough to make a difference.
SUPPORT THE IMMORTALITY INSTITUTE
Speaking of making a difference, I should mention the latest Longevity Meme action item. The Immortality Institute is a non-profit organization working hard towards the same healthy life extension objectives as the Longevity Meme.
Education, outreach and advocacy for healthy life extension are all very important, and the Immortality Institute does its share. I urge you to support the Immortality Institute by becoming a full member. This is a small commitment, but a way of making a difference by participating in activism for healthy life extension.
Needless to say, I don't ask you to do anything that I haven't already done myself. I have shown my support for the Immortality Institute by joining as a life member and helping to fund the next yearly conference. Whether you sign up or not, you should certainly visit the Immortality Institute forums to see this healthy life extension community in action:
That's all for my commentary this time: a news roundup for the past two weeks follows below.
Have comments for us, or want to discuss the newsletter?
Founder, Longevity Meme
Looking Forward to Anti-Aging Pills (September 21 2003)
To the press, it's not real medicine unless it's in a pill. The first real anti-aging treatments will more likely focus on stem cell and regenerative medicine rather than compounds you can swallow. Still, this article from the New York Times is a very good overview of current efforts to develop and market working healthy life extension treatments. It's worth noting the problems that exist due to the historical association of life extension and "anti-aging" with quacks and fraudsters: something that, unfortunately, still continues today.
Adult Stem Cell Research Progress (September 20 2003)
The Gainsville Sun reports on progress in the develop of regenerative medicine based on adult stem cells. While the article focuses on recent technical successes in proving that what works for mice will also work for humans, there are also comments on the wider field. As a heartening example: "We are gaining increasing information about the potential of these cells to restore function in brain, heart, liver and other tissues. The more we learn about this, the more horizons are expanding as to clinical applications." Now if we could just stop the FDA from blocking successful trials, things would be looking up.
Swiss Allow Some Embryonic Stem Cell Research (September 20 2003)
In a short note for an otherwise slow news day, the Swiss parliament has voted to allow research on embryonic stem cells obtained from "surplus human embryos." This is a small step forward in the midst of hostile research environments in most EU countries. Stem cell research is exhibiting enormous potential to provide cures for many diseases, and the ability to regenerate damaged tissue in many parts of the body. Blocking and banning this research damages our future health and longevity. We should all speak out in favor of longer, healthier lives through medical research!
Never Too Late To Start Low-Calorie Diets (September 19 2003)
As noted in the New York Times, the beneficial effects of low-calorie diets are available at any age (in flies at least). This follows up on similar research in mice that shows calorie restriction brings on beneficial changes in genetic expression very rapidly. It doesn't matter at what age the diet is started. You do have to stay on the diet to maintain the beneficial effects, however. What are you waiting for? Try calorie restriction today! You'll feel better and live a longer, healthier life.
Another New Theory of Aging (September 18 2003)
(From the LEF News). The russian researcher who correctly predicted the existence of telomeres is making some bold new predictions on the underlying mechanisms of aging. The information in this article is sparse, but we'll be hearing more as other researchers look into testing the claims and evidence. The idea of a single central, root mechanism for aging is not in favor with most biogerontologists, who believe aging is a combination of several complex processes. But this is the cut and thrust of scientific debate in a young field. With more funding, we shall see how it all turns out in the laboratory.
How The FDA Damages Medical Research (September 18 2003)
Tech Central Station explains the serious damage to medical research caused by FDA policies. The time and costs imposed by the FDA have risen drastically in the past 20 years, to the point at which many promising medical treatments are just abandoned. The FDA makes it impossible to develop or market them in the US. This directly affects your future health and longevity, since the FDA is endangering potential (and even working) regenerative and stem cell therapies. You can find out more at FDA Review, and should write to your representatives to protest this wanton destruction of medical progress.
Why Isn't Anti-Aging Research as Well Funded as AIDS Research? (September 17 2003)
AIDS research today is well-funded and has made good progress, largely as a result of early, successful activism and education about the disease in the 1980s. As Bono puts it: "Seven thousand people dying a day is not a cause. It's an emergency." But 150,000 people die every day due to the effects of aging. Why, we have to ask ourselves, isn't aging, anti-aging and healthy life extension research funded to the hilt? Finding the right answer to this question and acting on it is essential to ensure our future health and longevity.
To Live Longer, Cut Calories Wisely (September 17 2003)
(From mercola.com). We all know that calorie restriction is currently the only proven, accessible way to extend healthy lifespan. Getting started can be a little intimidating, however. In this article, Dr. Mercola offers thoughts, advice and a lot of good references on starting calorie restriction. While making best use of these calorie restriction resources, remember that modest improvements to healthy lifespan today are just a part of the Longevity Meme. We must also actively support medical research to develop the effective, long term healthy life extension therapies of tomorrow.
Stem Cell Progress on Parkinson's (September 17 2003)
Researchers are making progress on developing stem cell therapies to treat Parkinson's (and other neurodegenerative conditions) as this BBC article shows. There have been some fairly impressive early work and demonstrations, but it seems we are still some way away from human trials of any therapy. In part, this is due to the stifling effects of restrictive or threatened legislation. In part, it is simply the case that more funding is needed. Part of the groundwork for healthy life extension is ensuring publicity and funding for medical development. This doesn't happen overnight, but please do see how you can help.
InfoAging on Calorie Restriction (September 16 2003)
The always informative (if a bit conservative) InfoAging has updated its calorie restriction pages. Calorie restriction is the only current scientifically proven way to extend healthy lifespan. If you want to learn more about calorie restriction diets and how to get started, the Longevity Meme provides some introductory materials and suggestions. It's worth noting that a number of companies (like BioMarker Pharmaceuticals) are working on developing age retarding therapies based on the mechanisms of calorie restriction.
Syndication: What Are These Orange XML Logos? (September 16 2003)
As you may have noticed, the Longevity Meme now supports RSS for most of the site content. RSS-enabled news aggregators and weblog tools (like NewsGator, Radio Userland, FeedReader, AmphetaDesk and many others) are becoming a useful alternative for organizing your access to news, articles, blogs and other online information. The orange "XML" logos on the Longevity Meme link to our various RSS feeds, and you can find an overview at our main syndication page. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us.
Stem Cell Research Big In Japan (September 15 2003)
The Financial Times notes that German drug marker Schering is embarking on a big stem cell research and development venture in Japan. Legislative and cultural conditions in Asia are far more condusive to this sort of aging research. Japan even has a "Respect the Aged" holiday! From the article: "When compared to the situation in the US and especially when compared to Germany, the conditions for cell research in Japan appear to be the most modern. The Japanese government has fully recognised the needs and the challenges of an ageing society."
Longevity Doesn't Break Government Medical Services (September 15 2003)
A lot of articles on the cost of increasing longevity to government medical programs have been published in past weeks, like this one from the Telegraph. Studies note that increased healthy longevity doesn't add to the cost of government health services. In other words, politicians might now look more favorably on healthy life extension research because it won't increase medicare (or NHS in the UK) costs. This is a typical modern governmental view, unfortunately. The idea that the system should serve the people, rather than vice versa, seems to be quaint and outmoded these days.
Behind the Curtain at Alcor (September 15 2003)
This article in the Tuscon Citizen is an interesting glimpse behind the curtain at Alcor. There are some more snippets of information on the reasons behind recent departures and a little insight into the financial workings of this non-profit. Cryonics is very much a niche service at the moment. As I have said before, I hope that this current media attention leads to a more professional, growing cryonics industry. That in turn will help turn public attention to issues of healthy life extension funding and research.
Support the Immortality Institute (September 14 2003)
The Immortality Institute is a growing non-profit organization with many of the same healthy life extension goals as the Longevity Meme. Education, outreach and advocacy for healthy life extension are all very important. Funding for age retarding research is determined by the popularity and publicity of healthy life extension as a cause. I encourage you to show your support for healthy life extension research and awareness by joining as a full member. Joining or not, you should certainly visit the Immortality Insitute forum to see an vibrant healthy life extension community in action. I hope to see you there!
Standardizing Mice (September 14 2003)
We talk about mice a lot here at the Longevity Meme. This is because mice are the testbed for most early healthy life extension research. If a new therapy makes mice live longer, healthier lives, then it is a shorter path to implementing the same therapy in humans. Here is an article from SAGE Crossroads that discusses the current state of mice in research. Apparently, medical research processes relating to mice are open to improvements (such as standards and better procedures) that should speed up the path to research results.
Speeding up Alzheimer's Research (September 13 2003)
An article from The Age highlights new chemical screening technology that speeds up the process of finding potential drugs by a factor of 100. In this case, the technology is applied to Alzheimer's research, but we can expect to see it used elsewhere. Automation of time-consuming and expensive portions of medical research is one of the reasons we are seeing a speeding of the pace of discovery in medical science. Unfortunately, this has been matched with an dramatic increase in the costs and delays from bureaucratic requirements on the industry (such as those demanded by the expanding, slow FDA in the US).
Pursuit of Longevity (September 13 2003)
Acumen Journal of Sciences is running a for and against pair of articles on healthy life extension (found via the Immortality Institute). The pro-death, anti-research article is here. Medical scientists are working hard and obtaining results, but there is still a hill to climb while some doctors and researchers loudly declaim the need to block healthy life extension research. As I have said before, the biggest hurdle to overcome is public understanding and acceptance of the true potentials of medical research.
Outlook Is Improving, More Can Be Done (September 12 2003)
A short Reuters article discusses the upward trend in health and lifespan, a trend that appears to be speeding up. This, of course, is the result of decades of hard, successful work by medical researchers and the companies that commercialize their discoveries. The continuation and increased speed of this trend is what healthy life extension is all about! By staying healthy using the techniques and technologies of today, we can be alive and active to benefit further from the medicines of tomorrow. Medical research brings longer, healthier lives, and we should be doing all we can to support and encourage it.
Interview With Michael Anissimov (September 12 2003)
The Speculist is publishing an interview with Michael Anissimov, a director with the non-profit Immortality Institute. Some of the interview is devoted to speculative issues relating to Artificial Intelligence (AI) development and transhumanism, but the principle focus is healthy life extension. The presentation within related futurist and forward-looking contexts is interesting. After reading it, you should drop by the Immortality Institute and see how you can help their efforts to win the fight against aging and death.
Dramatic Increase in the Number of Centenarians (September 11 2003)
As reported in the Independent, rapidly increasing numbers of centenarians in developed countries like Japan are a testament to advances in medical science and quality of life over past decades. Improved health (via access to better medicine) throughout life will leader to healthier, longer livespans. This is an ongoing process: regenerative medicine, stem cell therapies and cures for neurodegenerative diseases are some of the next steps in better medicine for longer, healthier lives.
Alcor CEO To Resign (September 11 2003)
The Arizona Republic notes that Dr. Jerry Lemler will step down for health reasons. The article also follows up on recent controversy and updates a few of the ongoing Alcor stories from recent months. The publicity and change could be an opportunity for a better, more professional cryonics industry to emerge from these early organizations. Hopefully the chance will not be missed. New readers can find out more about cryonics and cryonic suspension at cryonet.org.
Why Diverse Research Goals Are Important (September 10 2003)
This article from ScienceDaily is a little more technical than I usually like to publish, but I feel it illustrates an important principle: diverse research goals are important. Synergy between different biomedical fields leads to a more rapid advance of knowledge. In this case, Alzheimer's research laid the groundwork for a discovery relating to tissue growth and regeneration in kidneys and other organs. These sorts of collaborative advances are lost if we focus too hard on narrow areas of knowledge; any knowledge of basic biochemical processes within the body will eventually be turned to good use in the fight against aging.
LEF on Legislation, Politics, Jerry Falwell (September 09 2003)
Since we're talking about politics today, here is a lengthy and very informative article from the Life Extension Foundation. It addresses points in a wide ranging, ongoing conflict on pharmaceutical laws, politics, the role of the FDA and an unpleasant, uninformed commentary by Jerry Falwell. Pharmaceutical importation is a complex mess of an issue, but I think we should all agree that the actions of the FDA, lobbyists and Jerry Falwell are beyond the pale. It is worth noting that - quite separately from their supplement business - the LEF does fund and support healthy life extension research.
The Divide Between Science and Politics (September 09 2003)
This partisan article (found via Betterhumans) examines the way in which the current Republican US administration is blocking the advance of medical science. (Democrats are as dangerous to medical advances, just in different ways). The larger picture is that politicians in general (in the US and abroad) are hindering or blocking scientific research that will lead to longer, healthier lives. We must continue to speak up and oppose this wanton destruction of progress. It is up to us to defend our access to advanced medicine and our future health and longevity!
$5M To UC Davis For Fundamental Aging Research (September 09 2003)
The LEF News reports on an NIH grant to the University of California, Davis to study the fundamentals of aging and ways to extend healthy lifespan. This is a very small drop in the larger funding bucket, of course, but it is always welcome to see research in the field getting funded at all. From the article: "The human body has no expiration date limiting how long people can live ... the goal is to develop strategies on how to improve health while extending longevity."
Eat Less, Exercise More, Live Longer (September 08 2003)
(From the Edmonton Journal). I really cannot overemphasise how much of a difference a good diet and lifestyle makes to your natural healthy lifespan. Overweight, unfit and dying at 60 or living to a healthy 80 or 100; the choice is in your hands. This article gives sensible advice, and you can find more sensible advice here at the Longevity Meme. Make the best of your natural healthy lifespan, and you'll be far more likely be alive and active to benefit from advances in healthy life extension medicine in years to come.
Timeline for Growing Organs From Single Cells (September 08 2003)
This short snippet from KUT notes a grant provided to a UT Austin professor to grow human organs from adult stem cells. It is interesting because this scientist, Dr. Roy, is prepared to give a timeline to his research. He feels that he should take five years for him to develop methods of growing a human organ from a single stem cell. This is very promising; the ability to grow organs for transplant on demand (and that will not be rejected by the immune system) is a vital technology for near-term healthy life extension.
Stem Cell Transplants Cure Crohn's Disease (September 08 2003)
Another advance in regenerative medicine is reported in the Reno Gazette-Journal. Ten sufferers of the deadly Crohn's disease have been cured by stem cell transplants that regenerate the damage to their intestines and immune system. The article focuses on the young man who will hopefully be number 11 and live to see a full life. This is the sort of amazing application of stem cell medicine, like recent advances in regenerating normally fatal heart damage, that we hope will become commonplace. Being able to regenerate any part of the body in this fashion will lead to large gains in healthy lifespan.
Do you have comments for us, or want to discuss the newsletter?