This blog is copyrighted by Harrison Homer ©
Aging in and of itself isn’t a disease. It’s not a single thing that we can say, oh, the symptom of aging is this so let’s give De this experimental drug and see what happens. It is a process that is determined by an intrinsic rate (our genetic disposition) and an extrinsic rate (determined by our environment: epigenetics-yes, it’s back). While this process increases our susceptibility to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and common bacterial and viral infections, it’s not something we can ‘cure’ with a drug. We CAN prolong aging, however. Episode 1 (trust me, better than the Phantom Menace) of this blog on aging is about that wonderful drug that everyone thought was incredible for you back in the day: blueberries. Well, not blueberries but what’s in blueberries. Antioxidants. Scientists thought that if you took a ridiculous amount of antioxidants you could slow the progression of aging.
Before I continue let’s get a quick background on the science behind antioxidants. In our day-to-day lives we produce what are known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are free radical molecules. This means that they have a single unpaired electron and are therefore incredibly reactive with the other molecules in their vicinity and can kill surrounding tissue and cells. Our body’s defenses produce enzymes to neutralize these internal destructors. Scientists used to believe (and for some the jury is still out-this is an incredibly complicated topic when studied in depth) that over time, these free radicals would lead to cellular aging. They thought that taking large quantities of antioxidants, less reactive molecules that will donate an electron to quench the free radical, would prevent this process.
Stay with me this is where it gets good. Our natural quencher is called SOD-1. It works with catalase to get these free radicals out of our mitochondria (where most ROS are found). Scientists found that giving Paraquat, a pesticide that increases free radicals in the body, actually INCREASES lifespan. WHAT?! That’s nuts. Taking pesticides can lengthen lifespan? Kids, don’t try this at home the experiment was done in C. Elegans, a model organism worm. The research found that giving these worms pesticides increased the amount of SOD-1 in the body, allowing for better disposal of free radicals. Antioxidants, on the other hand, show no true benefit in increased lifespan, and some experiments even show them being detrimental to the body.
After three years and much hesitation, I, DoubleH (HH, Homer, and H-dog are also accepted), return to you with a much-awaited blog. Is this for you? Ehhh, not really, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.
Next Time: Caloric Restriction-how eating less will make you live longer. Beware! Treatment has been shown to increase irritability in all patients.