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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 29 2007

The Fountain of Youth, Coming to a Drug Near You

By Mark Sisson

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. 😉

Further reading:

Don’t fall for the colloidal silver scam

Top 10 health product scams

Top 10 most worthless drugs

Photo Credit: Martin LaBar

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TAGS:  Aging, Big Pharma, Hype

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11 thoughts on “The Fountain of Youth, Coming to a Drug Near You”

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  1. It appears that this maybe one of the first of many attempts by Big Pharma to enter into the Supplement Market, albeit this is more of a small Bio-Med company than a giant.

    Nonetheless, it appears that there is recognition that the supplements that many are taking, in addition to a healthy lifestyle, is a lucrative market.

    Hence, if you can’t beat’em,; join’em!

  2. Is resveratrol in the Master Formula?

    Better yet, I’ll answer my own question. Yes, 100mg per two-packet dose. Good.

  3. Mark, this reminds me tangentially of stevia…for years it was condemned, and now that Coke, et al are in on the action, suddenly it’s fine 😉

  4. to all that I simply say “just eat more veggies and enjoy a chianti while you are at it.”

  5. I think they have to market the drug toward diabetes, etc. because the FDA does not consider aging a disease.

  6. Good call on cancer and diabetes being lifestyle diseases and not aging diseases. Too many people think that just because we get old, we must also become decrepit. Since they think it’s hopeless to overcome these diseases, they eat what they want and treat their bodies like crap. Course, most of us here know that a natural diet (Paleo, Primal, EvFit, whatever you want to call it) keeps the body purring along in top condition.

    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

  7. I, for one, don’t mind getting my Resveratrol the old fashioned way. It’s a box of Franzia for me this weekend.

  8. Thank you thank you thank you for saying we don’t have to get sick as we get old! “Diseases of aging” IS bullshit; thanks for having the courage to say so.

    I drink a daily glass of wine, not just for the antioxidants, but I have heard that daily moderate alcohol consumption seems to make insulin receptors more sensitive.

  9. I’m into making it work for a long time. I’m 71 and don’t plan on hitting the rockin’ chair any- time soon. I don’t take any medications (that horrible pharma stuff), and I don’t plan to. (The vegetarian lifestyle will help I know.) But, along with that grape special ingredient, I saw recently that tart cherries hold one of the most powerful anti-aging “chemicals.”. Now if I can just find some of those cherries to try it out.

  10. Ironic article considering bht almost definitely works as an antioxidant as well as grapes do. At any rate if eating a grape is what works then why would anyone praise a supplement market for selling something we can add to our diets with no effort? Eat grapes!