Tag Archives | Aging

Do You Want To Live Forever?

That old chestnut “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind, but nevertheless there are those who are convinced that massive leaps in longevity are upon us. Andrew Romano reports for Newsweek on a face-off between two competing experts, Walter Bortz and Aubrey de Grey:

NEWSWEEK: My inspiration for embarking on this story was, strangely enough, a Prudential insurance billboard. “The first person to live to 150,” it reads, “is alive today.” Have you seen it?

Bortz: You can’t miss it.

De Grey: It’s all over.

prudential ad

NW: And what was your reaction to it?

Bortz: I’m sure they varied.

De Grey: Go on, Walter. You first.

Bortz: I didn’t believe it. Maybe a couple thousand years from now it might happen. One of my reference points is the International Supercentenarian Registry. It’s a list of people who are 110 or older. We know there are about 80 supercentenarians out there.

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The Fear of Death is Killing Us

sexanddeathservitorThere are a lot of utterly insane laws enforced throughout the world, but one of the absolute craziest involves the illegality of assisted suicide. That’s right, even if you are being ravaged by a debilitating disease and your life has devolved into absolute hell on earth, you’re legally required to suffer that hell. This is how nuts we are when it comes to spirituality. We threw Jack Kevorkian in fucking jail God help us all (or God Hates Us All if you’re going with the Slayer narrative).

As a spiritual person, I have exactly zero interest in living to be very old. As a matter of fact, I sort of think I was trying to kill myself with booze for most of my twenties but a guiding force prevented me from doing so. I’ve got things down here I’m supposed to accomplish apparently. The prison guards weren’t going to let me out so easily, especially on bad behavior.… Read the rest

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Sequenced Genome Of Sacred Lotus May Yield Anti-Aging Secrets

sacred lotusContemporary science meets ancient wisdom via redOrbit:

A team of international scientists report today that they have sequenced and annotated the genome of the sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). The research was co-led by Ray Ming, a plant biology professor at University of Illinois’ Institute for Genomic Biology; Jane Shen-Miller, a plant biology professor at UCLA; and Shaohua Li, director of the Wuhan Botanical Garden at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The team have sequenced nearly 90 percent of the plant’s 27,000 genes.

The sacred lotus has the ability to repair genetic defects, and may hold a key to the secrets of aging; the seeds of the lotus can survive up to 1,300 years. The sacred lotus is known from the geologic record as early as 135 million years ago. The plant has been grown in China for at least the last 4,000 years, and has long been used there for food and medicine.

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The Price of Fame? An Early Death

Warhol graveSo is it better to die old in obscurity or young in the limelight? From Reuters:
The price of fame can be high with an international study on Thursday finding that people who enjoy successful entertainment or sporting careers tend to die younger. Researchers Richard Epstein and Catherine Epstein said the study, based on analysing 1,000 New York Times obituaries from 2009-2011, found film, music, stage performers and sports people died at an average age of 77.2 years. This compared to an average lifespan of 78.5 years for creative workers, 81.7 for professionals and academics, and 83 years for people in business, military and political careers. The Australian-based researchers said these earlier deaths could indicate that performers and sports stars took more risks in life, either to reach their goals or due to their success...
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Western Style Diet Leads To Early Death

English breakfast - catorze14No doubt the headline will cause some septuagenarians who eat nothing but processed meat and fried food to claim the “Western style diet” never hurt them, but a new study shows that for most people eating this stuff is likely to shorten your life. From Alpha Galileo Foundation:

Data from a new study of British adults suggest that adherence to a “Western-style” diet (fried and sweet food, processed and red meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products) reduces a person’s likelihood of achieving older ages in good health and with higher functionality. Study results appear in the May issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

“The impact of diet on specific age-related diseases has been studied extensively, but few investigations have adopted a more holistic approach to determine the association of diet with overall health at older ages,” says lead investigator Tasnime Akbaraly, PhD, Inserm, Montpellier, France. “We examined whether diet, assessed in midlife, using dietary patterns and adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), is associated with aging phenotypes, identified after a mean 16-year follow-up.”

The AHEI is a validated index of diet quality, originally designed to provide dietary guidelines with the specific intention to combat major chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

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The Island Where People Forget to Die

Armenistís ikaríaA fascinating account by Dan Buettner of the amazing longevity of the residents of Ikaria, a Greek Island, in the New York Times:

…For a decade, with support from the National Geographic Society, I’ve been organizing a study of the places where people live longest. The project grew out of studies by my partners, Dr. Gianni Pes of the University of Sassari in Italy and Dr. Michel Poulain, a Belgian demographer. In 2000, they identified a region of Sardinia’s Nuoro province as the place with the highest concentration of male centenarians in the world. As they zeroed in on a cluster of villages high in Nuoro’s mountains, they drew a boundary in blue ink on a map and began referring to the area inside as the “blue zone.” Starting in 2002, we identified three other populations around the world where people live measurably longer lives than everyone else. The world’s longest-lived women are found on the island of Okinawa.

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Castration Makes Men Live (Much) Longer

Play Balls
One imagines that telling a eunuch he’ll live 20 years longer is just adding insult to his injury, but in any event this “new” discovery has some people excited. Dr. Julyenne Wong reports for ABC News:

Call it making the best of a potentially bad situation. Eunuchs — castrated men — live nearly 20 years longer than other men, a new study has found.

The study of over 80 eunuchs from the Chosun Dynasty, which ruled in Korea from 1392 to 1897, looked at the world’s only known record of eunuchs’ lives and compared them to genealogical records of other men of similar social rank. The researchers cross-checked their results with other royal records.

They found that the average lifespan of a Korean eunuch was about 70 years, 14 to 19 years higher than non-castrated men of similar social standing.

Three of the 81 eunuchs lived to be over 100 years old.

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People Aren’t Happiest Until They Reach Age 33, Social Media Survey Says

33Erin Skarda writes on TIME’s Newsfeed:

It’s true: 30 really is the new 20. A study by Friends Reunited, a British social-networking site, found that 70% of respondents over the age of 40 claimed they were not truly happy until they reached 33.

“The age of 33 is enough time to have shaken off childhood naiveté and the wild scheming of teenaged years without losing the energy and enthusiasm of youth,” psychologist Donna Dawson said in the survey’s findings. “By this age innocence has been lost, but our sense of reality is mixed with a strong sense of hope, a ‘can do’ spirit, and a healthy belief in our own talents and abilities.”

Conversely, only 16% of the survey’s respondents pined for their childhood, while 6% said they were happiest while in college. Many respondents claimed that their happiness at 33 came from fulfillment in their professional lives, as well as having a support system of family and friends.

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Playing Music Can Offset Aging Process

Photo: Stilfehler (CC)

Photo: Stilfehler (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

Age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training, according to a new study from Northwestern University.

The study is the first to provide biological evidence that lifelong musical experience has an impact on the aging process.

Measuring the automatic brain responses of younger and older musicians and non-musicians to speech sounds, researchers in the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory discovered that older musicians had a distinct neural timing advantage.

“The older musicians not only outperformed their older non-musician counterparts, they encoded the sound stimuli as quickly and accurately as the younger non-musicians,” said Northwestern neuroscientist Nina Kraus. “This reinforces the idea that how we actively experience sound over the course of our lives has a profound effect on how our nervous system functions.” …

Read more here.

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Woman Mysteriously Ages 50 Years In A Few Days

nguyenThi_2026486cThe immutable laws of science mean that there must be an equal, opposite condition that causes elderly people to spontaneously become young again. Via the Telegraph:

Vietnamese woman Nguyen Thi Phuong now looks like a septugenarian after the rapid aging affliction took hold following an allergic reaction to seafood.

Her sad story began in 2008, when her youthful beauty began to fade over the course of just a few days, leaving her with sagging, wrinkled skin all over her face and body. Until now she has been forced to wear a mask in public to hide her appearance from prying eyes, but now doctors are attempting to establish what caused her sudden and horrifying aging.

Some have argued that the condition is lipodystrophy – a rare syndrome that causes a layer of fatty tissue beneath the surface of the skin to disintegrate while the skin itself continues to grow at a startling pace.

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