I would hope that regular readers are by now wary of chronic inflammation - the tentacles of causal relationships link inflammation with almost all well-known age-related conditions. Those conditions are the most visible end points of accumulated damage, as aging is nothing more than just that - damage at the cellular and molecular level. In this worldview, inflammation is a process acting as a source of damage. For example, we have this recent research on inflammation and age-related (type 2) diabetes:
It has long been known that type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The body attacks the islet cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. In recent years, the immune system has also been implicated in type 2 diabetes - in particular imbalances in cytokines, an immune system component that causes inflammation.
These imbalances become especially marked as people become obese. Dr. Jerry Nadler and his colleagues are investigating the role of a key gene - 12/15-LO (12/15-lipoxygenase ) - that has been implicated in the immune-system induced inflammatory effects linked to both forms of diabetes and their complications.
Macrophages appear in high concentrations in fatty tissue. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, Nadler has traced the mechanism by which the presence of large numbers of fat cells stimulate the macrophages to activate the 12/15-LO gene, and has documented the cascade of inflammatory reactions that results. He has found that the 12/15-LO gene produces two proteins that convert fatty acids into cytokines.
A nice demonstration of a plausible mechanism to link excess body fat with chronic inflammation, and then to diabetes and all the other conditions brought on by that inflammation. All the more reason to keep yourself in shape and take care of the health basics - if you don't let your body go to seed, then you'll accumulate cellular damage at a slower rate, and be better placed to benefit from the longevity medicine of the future.
We don't know how rapidly we'll be able to create medical technologies of rejuvenation and longer, healthier lives. It's foolish to think that advanced medicine will be developed fast enough to save you from neglect - why take the chance when there is so much at stake? Even the young adults amongst us should be concerned about missing the boat, and that's a wise position to take. We should all do our best to reach that future intact and healthy, and to help bring the development of real anti-aging technologies closer.