We received an awesome question to the site from my brother Joey Campbell.
It was such a great question, Dr Osborn decided to answer it in a way only he can.
We don’t know if our site has a better or more significant article than this one. We hope all of you read this and ask questions about it if it doesn’t make sense.
This is SENSATIONAL STUFF.
Jay, great article and awesome advice about battling the disease of aging. My only challenge to this is that, if we view aging as a disease, are we also acknowledging that it is a disease which affects 100% of humans and cannot be permanently cured? Or is the whole point to eventually find a cure so we can all live forever? I think this is going to be the natural corollary to the aging as a disease claim–that is, a question of whether it can be stopped or only contained.
In response to the very insightful question posed by your brother, I (Dr Osborn) give you the following answer:
Aging is a disease that afflicts EVERY ONE of us beginning in our mid teens. Why then? It is at that point FROM WHICH our mortality rate begins to double every 8 years. So-called mortality rate doubling time or MRDT in HUMANS in approximately 8 years. This is species-specific. The MRDT of pine trees is in the hundreds (and their life expectancy therefore in the thousands). The fact that we are destined to die by virtue of this disease is a function of a complex interaction between the environment, our genome and time. Our biological clocks tick at a certain rate: This is genetically determined to some degree (estimated at 25%) but it is more so related to our environment.
In this context, “environment” is inclusive of the cumulative “threats” to which our bodies are exposed (toxins, stresses (inclusive of both mental and physical insults)) and those salubrious factors such as proper nutrition, an optimal hormonal milieu, adequate rest/recovery to name a few. It is the cumulative balance (or imbalance) of these factors which determine one’s potential “variance” or “sway” from the best-fit MRDT line on a graph.
Here’s the problem. At this juncture, there are no proven anti-aging strategies except for caloric restriction (and this too is theoretical albeit more than plausible). Why is this the case? We know so much, right? Wrong. It is just as of recent, through the work of Cynthia Kenyon (who now is employed by Google’s Calico), that one aspect of the genetic component of the aging process has been elucidated. As it turns out, her discovery is testimony to the age-old adage, “You are what you eat.” There are complex interactions between FOOD and our DNA. Less food (or more likely, less carbohydrate) equates to a longer life.
And this NOT due to the elimination of toxins within or food or the fact that food is toxic. This is likely due to LESS “throughput” through complex biochemical processes which are responsible for growth of all bodily structures including atherosclerotic plaque and cellular accumulates which ONLY serve sinister functions (and thereby age us). We’re only as old as our arteries, right? The majority of us die of some form of vascular disease (heart attack, stroke). We otherwise die of cancer for the most part (barring trauma). And cancer is another age-related disease (or a product of the aging process) due to the accumulation of errors within a particular cell, a degenerative disease if you will, akin to arthritis.
Here the target is not a particular joint, it is the cellular DNA. Our DNA has reparative capacity, yet as we age, these processes falter as do those integral to our mounting an immune response (against a bacterial pathogen or a stray cancer cell). The latter is known as immunosenescence. The increased incidence of cancer in older (aged) individuals is likely a function of BOTH impaired DNA reparative capacity and poor immune surveillance. Cancer is an age-related disease and thought to be 85% environmental in origin. Toxins, poor nutrition (particularly insulin resistance), lack of exercise, undue stress are the causative etiologies. Vascular disease? Same offenders.
At base level, aging is the cumulative DAMAGE done at the cellular level which ultimately manifests itself AS DISEASE. The effectors of said damage are free radicals which are released as a byproduct of metabolism. Normal biological processes release free radicals as byproducts, akin to a car generating heat. Free radical release is simply the “cost of doing business.” The question then becomes, “Is one living or simply dying slowly?”
Under optimal circumstances, the majority of free radicals (though NOT used for critical biological processes such as inter-cellular signaling and the killing of bacterial invaders) would be quenched by our inherent scavenging (anti-oxidant) systems. This is unrealistic however because like your car, we are imperfect machines and there is some “spillage” of free radicals which roam unchecked and exert oxidative damage. In essence we are “rusting” on the inside. And therein lies the impetus for “anti-oxidant” usage. Slow oxidation, slow down the aging process. Of course its not that simple.
Inflammation also plays a major role in the process. It is an accelerant (like gasoline on a fire), by virtue of its ability to hasten those biochemical reactions which release free radicals but more importantly, inflammation primes the system, in particular the immune system, to exert damage at the cellular level. Aspirin anyone?
Despite our best efforts at tempering the effects of oxidative damage and inflammation (by living a so-called “healthy lifestyle”), the oldest documented human lived to a ripe old age of 122. Americans live to 79 years on average and those in Monaco to 90 years. Why the 11 year difference? Is it that the people in Monaco are smarter than everyone else and have some magic fountain of youth? Nope. Americans are just doing it wrong. We are obese, hypertensive, diabetic, poorly exercised and exposed to a myriad of toxins within the environment (and that includes food). The citizens of Monaco are not. They have therefore slowed the aging process slightly by virtue of their choices (while Americans have done quite the opposite). Yet still they are FAR from immortal. MRDT still approximates 8. Even in the south of France. They too are suffering the consequences of accumulated damage albeit slightly later in life.
Like gunk within the cylinders of your car, the byproducts of the aging process accumulate within the body and are visible microscopically or through genetic analysis. We can “see” gene mutations in cancer patients as we can amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s patients. And if we can “see” them, potentially these cellular/extra-cellular accumulates can be eliminated, thereby preventing the otherwise inevitable, DISEASE. And this is the concept behind Aubrey de Grey’s SENS technologies. Why deal with the complexities of the biochemical processes which modulate aging when instead one could theoretically address the accumulates (the gunk or residue) which ultimately causes cellular dysfunction, cellular death and ultimately death of the organism (when the cells can no longer divide and replenish themselves, having reached their so-called Hayflick limit)? SENS technologies (and there are 8 or 9 in the works) would be applied to humans at specific intervals (every 5-10 years, for example) to rid the body of accumulates, therefore staving off disease. Liken this to tuning up your car. If one takes excellent care of his or her vehicle, theoretically it will last forever, right? Same thing applies.
So does SENS change MRDT? Nope. Still 8. The damage will STILL accumulate at the same rate. It will simply be “cleaned” proactively. But here’s a question: Do we need to change MRDT? If so, why? Theoretically, like an antique car, we as humans could live to 200 years of age (or more) by simply getting our “oil changed” once in a while.
And THAT will buy us time to further our knowledge and hopefully one day, manipulate MRDT (potentially allowing for immortality). What about overpopulation? I’m not worried. By then we’ll have colonized Mars and likely elsewhere…
Board-Certified Neurological Surgeon
Diplomate, American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine
CSCS, National Strength and Conditioning Association
Now you know why we’ve aligned ourselves with him to stop the disease of aging in its tracks with our SOAR Seminars.
Isn’t it clear you should consider consulting with him too?
Be on the lookout for our new monthly column in Iron Man Magazine on “Anti Aging” appearing on newsstands March 5th.
Be the BEST YOU EVER!