1999-05-29 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

By Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

 

 

Our congressional district has one of the highest concentrations of seniors in the country: How can we slow the aging process.

The search for the fountain of youth is not a new one. Even Ponce
de Leon (according to our history books) went out in search of it.
Scientists have now decided to join him in his quest. They are looking for eternal youth.

The Financial Times reports on the recent meeting of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science held in California. Current
research into what causes the human body to age is giving scientists a prospect that they may find a way to extend the healthy human life span.

It is hoped that this breakthrough could come early in the next century. This promise is made more concrete by the discovery of genes that cause worms to grow old. This worm approach may not appear to be related to humans but it does have a closer connection than you think. Why? Half of the genes that cause disease in humans are also found in this worm even through the two species decided to go their separate way over 700 million years ago. The fact that there is a human aging gene although it has not been isolated yet can be seen by looking at longevity in particular families. Harvard Medical School conducted a study that shows that if one of your family siblings lives to be one hundred years of age your probability of reaching ninety years of age is four times higher the
normal population.

For years research has been done by pharmaceutical companies and
medical researchers trying to conquer the diseases that affect us as we grow older. However, it is only in the 1990s that the field of the
biological aging of the normal healthy human has become a hot topic for research. Today, healthy aging is a prominent topic. This is taking a two pronged approach: genetics and diet.

Scientists definitely conclude that restricting one's diet promotes
longevity. Many studies show that laboratory mice who are on a restricted diet live longer. It has also been found that rats who eat less are much more active.

One group that is trying to jump the gun is the Calorie Restriction Society. This group is on the Internet and they are trying to help themselves prolong their own lives. Of course, many doctors will tell you what this group is saying - losing weight by lowering your choleric intake may also have the beneficial effect of lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and your white blood cells. Of course, one must be careful not only to lose weight but also to ensure a healthy diet.

Some medical experts are not yet convinced that only cutting our
calories will be the answer to healthy longevity. These measures may pose some problems down the road.

Since dieting may not be the answer, I am going out for a
cheeseburger, a milk shake and a big piece of cake. If I live longer I
also want to be happy.

 

 

 

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