The anti-aging drug movement is upon us.
News reports out today inform us that Sirtris, a drug based upon the antioxidant resveratrol (found in red wine), will enter human drug trials as soon as next year. Aging – and so-called diseases of aging – is thought to be caused by cellular breakdown. And fundamental to the proper operation of a cell are the mitochondria. These “engines” of our cells are the key to disease prevention and longevity. From the article – which brings out the glamorous “Lance Armstrong has more powerful cells” example, naturally – we learn about the future of aging pharmaceuticals:
“The new molecule is 1,000 times more potent than the wine derivative, resveratrol, and could lead to solutions for diseases of aging, including cancer and diabetes, according to authors of a study in today’s issue of the journal Nature.
Researchers tested about 500,000 molecules for abilities to activate the immune-system booster SIRT1, the enzyme credited with resveratrol’s ability to extend lifespans 30 to 70 percent in organisms from yeast and worms to flies and mice.”
I subscribe to the cellular theory of aging and I absolutely support the prudent use of antioxidant supplements such as resveratrol. So, I suppose it was only a matter of time before Big Pharma got in on the act. (I do find it entertaining that drug companies are quick to undermine the value of any natural therapy until they find it may benefit their bottom lines.)
While I support antioxidant therapy, I’m also in disagreement about the article’s assertion – and the common belief – that diseases such as diabetes and cancer are due to aging and not simple lifestyle factors. These aren’t diseases of aging, they’re diseases of bullsh*t. We have this deeply ingrained belief, it seems, that aging inherently comes with disease and we’re all just, well, screwed. Watch drug commercials and it would seem that once we hit 55, all that’s left to do is retire, bicker about leftovers with the old ball and chain, and apparently settle in for a few decades of drugs, walkers, pee bags and pain prescriptions. But aging doesn’t have to mean – and shouldn’t mean – wrinkles, broken hips, weakness, and disease. Far from it. There’s no reason you can’t be as lean, strong, and energetic at 50, 60, 70, and even 80 as you were at 25. The key is not a drug, but a healthy, preventive lifestyle.
Also today: grapes are evidently the elixir for all that ails. Another news report out today reveals that grapeseed extract is a safe, natural alternative to the harsh preservative chemicals used in grocery store meat (no word on the pouring of blood to keep the meat looking fresh). BHA and BHT have been used for decades to slow down the deterioration of meat. Meat goes bad because the fats oxidize. So it makes sense that a natural antioxidant would do the job of chemicals, and quite naturally to boot. I’m looking forward to manufacturers making the switch. Still, truly fresh, free-range, grass-fed meat is a far cry better than preserved luncheon meats and deli offerings. But I’ll pick my battles.
Photo Credit: Martin LaBar