Longevity Meme Newsletter, September 22 2003

Discussion in 'Health and medical' started by Reason, Sep 22, 2003.

  1. Reason

    Reason Guest

    September 22 2003

    The Longevity Meme Newsletter is a biweekly e-mail containing news,
    opinions and happenings for people interested in healthy life
    extension: making use of diet, lifestyle choices, technology and
    proven medical advances to live healthy, longer lives. To subscribe or
    unsubscribe from the Longevity Meme Newsletter, please visit



    Low calorie diets (with calorie restriction as the diet with the
    greatest weight of scientific testing behind it) are still very much
    in the news. We can hope that this is here to stay; calorie
    restriction is the only proven-beyond-a-doubt, currently available
    method of extending healthy lifespan. The more people who are
    introduced to calorie restriction and other low calorie diets, the

    An article from the New York Times last week reminds us that the
    beneficial effects of calorie restriction kick in as soon as you


    This article doesn't mention previous research on changes in gene
    expression in mice brought on by calorie restriction, but that
    research also demonstrated that the effects start quickly. So if
    you're basically healthy now, get started on calorie restriction! You
    owe it to yourself to at least try this diet for a few months. The
    following page on the Longevity Meme offers some helpful advice on
    getting started easily and painlessly:


    Dr. Mercola also offered some useful references recently for people
    thinking about starting a low calorie diet:


    As always, talk to your physician before making dietary changes,
    especially if you suffer from any serious condition or are taking


    Building a relationship with a physician you trust is very important
    for your long-term health and longevity. Talking to your physician
    about your health and taking physicals on a regular basis is also very
    important. Many life-threatening conditions can be caught and treated
    early on, especially in this age of rapidly advancing medical
    technology. You have to find a physician who works for you, however. A
    disinterested doctor is not a doctor who will do wonders for your

    Many people have a fascination with pills, medical technology and the
    advance of science. It is good to be informed; after all, if you are
    not informed, you will have a hard time identifying a good physician
    with the right skills, knowledge and opinions. Most medical
    information is far less useful (even useless!), however, without a
    trained physician to help you make sense of it and identify what is
    helpful for you. The difference in quality between general medical
    advice and personalized medical advice is enormous. People vary
    greatly, and what is beneficial for one person can be useless or even
    harmful for another.

    Many people put off visiting a physician until they have to. Don't be
    one of them, and you will have already helped yourself to live
    healthily for a little longer.


    You may have noticed a sprouting of orange XML logos on the Longevity
    Meme in recent days. For the benefit of those of you who use news
    aggregators to keep track of news, articles and newsletters, we have
    added RSS access to the Longevity Meme content. You can find out more
    about our syndication, RSS and news aggregators by starting here:


    Clicking on the orange XML logos will take you directly to the RSS
    feed in question. If you go there using a standard web browser, it
    won't look like anything readable! These pages are designed for access
    by news aggregator software rather than humans. For a more general,
    gentle introduction into how news aggregators can help you manage your
    access to news online, you might want to read this piece:



    Visit the main Longevity Meme newsletter page and scroll down to view
    past newsletters in an agreeable format:


    As always, you should feel free to pass the individual newsletter
    links around to friends, co-workers, and anyone else you know.
    Spreading the word about the Longevity Meme is a good deed. The more
    people who know about the potentials of healthy life extension, the
    more likely it is that real age-retarding medicine will be developed
    soon enough to make a difference.


    Speaking of making a difference, I should mention the latest Longevity
    Meme action item. The Immortality Institute is a non-profit
    organization working hard towards the same healthy life extension
    objectives as the Longevity Meme.


    Education, outreach and advocacy for healthy life extension are all
    very important, and the Immortality Institute does its share. I urge
    you to support the Immortality Institute by becoming a full member.
    This is a small commitment, but a way of making a difference by
    participating in activism for healthy life extension.


    Needless to say, I don't ask you to do anything that I haven't already
    done myself. I have shown my support for the Immortality Institute by
    joining as a life member and helping to fund the next yearly
    conference. Whether you sign up or not, you should certainly visit the
    Immortality Institute forums to see this healthy life extension
    community in action:



    That's all for my commentary this time: a news roundup for the past
    two weeks follows below.


    Have comments for us, or want to discuss the newsletter? Visit the
    Longevity Meme forum at http://www.longevitymeme.org/forum.cfm, or
    send e-mail to [email protected].

    [email protected]
    Founder, Longevity Meme



    Looking Forward to Anti-Aging Pills (September 21 2003)
    To the press, it's not real medicine unless it's in a pill. The first
    real anti-aging treatments will more likely focus on stem cell and
    regenerative medicine rather than compounds you can swallow. Still,
    this article from the New York Times is a very good overview of
    current efforts to develop and market working healthy life extension
    treatments. It's worth noting the problems that exist due to the
    historical association of life extension and "anti-aging" with quacks
    and fraudsters: something that, unfortunately, still continues today.

    Adult Stem Cell Research Progress (September 20 2003)
    The Gainsville Sun reports on progress in the develop of regenerative
    medicine based on adult stem cells. While the article focuses on
    recent technical successes in proving that what works for mice will
    also work for humans, there are also comments on the wider field. As a
    heartening example: "We are gaining increasing information about the
    potential of these cells to restore function inbrain, heart, liver and
    other tissues. The more we learn about this, the more horizons are
    expanding as to clinical applications." Now if we could just stop the
    FDA from blocking successful trials, things would be looking up.

    Swiss Allow Some Embryonic Stem Cell Research (September 20 2003)
    In a short note for an otherwise slow news day, the Swiss parliament
    has voted to allow research on embryonic stem cells obtained from
    "surplus human embryos." This is a small step forward in the midst of
    hostile research environments in most EU countries. Stem cell research
    is exhibiting enormous potential to provide cures for many diseases,
    and the ability to regenerate damaged tissue in many parts of the
    body. Blocking and banning this research damages our future health and
    longevity. We should all speak out in favor of longer, healthier lives
    through medical research!

    Never Too Late To Start Low-Calorie Diets (September 19 2003)
    As noted in the New York Times, the beneficial effects of low-calorie
    diets are available at any age (in flies at least). This follows up on
    similar research in mice that shows calorie restriction brings on
    beneficial changes in genetic expression very rapidly. It doesn't
    matter at what age the diet is started. You do have to stay on the
    diet to maintain the beneficial effects, however. What are you waiting
    for? Try calorie restriction today! You'll feel better and live a
    longer, healthier life.

    Another New Theory of Aging (September 18 2003)
    (From the LEF News). The russian researcher who correctly predicted
    the existence of telomeres is making some bold new predictions on the
    underlying mechanisms of aging. The information in this article is
    sparse, but we'll be hearing more as other researchers look into
    testing the claims and evidence. The idea of a single central, root
    mechanism for aging is not in favor with most biogerontologists, who
    believe aging is a combination of several complex processes. But this
    is the cut and thrust of scientific debate in a young field. With more
    funding, we shall see how it all turns out in the laboratory.

    How The FDA Damages Medical Research (September 18 2003)
    Tech Central Station explains the serious damage to medical research
    caused by FDA policies. The time and costs imposed by the FDA have
    risen drastically in the past 20 years, to the point at which many
    promising medical treatments are just abandoned. The FDA makes it
    impossible to develop or market them in the US. This directly affects
    your future health and longevity, since the FDA is endangering
    potential (and even working) regenerative and stem cell therapies. You
    can find out more at FDA Review, and should write to your
    representatives to protest this wanton destruction of medical

    Why Isn't Anti-Aging Research as Well Funded as AIDS Research?
    (September 17
    AIDS research today is well-funded and has made good progress, largely
    as a result of early, successful activism and education about the
    disease in the 1980s. As Bono puts it: "Seven thousand people dying a
    day is not a cause. It's an emergency." But 150,000 people die every
    day due to the effects of aging. Why, we have to ask ourselves, isn't
    aging, anti-aging and healthy life extension research funded to the
    hilt? Finding the right answer to this question and acting on it is
    essential to ensure our future health and longevity.

    To Live Longer, Cut Calories Wisely (September 17 2003)
    (From mercola.com). We all know that calorie restriction is currently
    the only proven, accessible way to extend healthy lifespan. Getting
    started can be a little intimidating, however. In this article, Dr.
    Mercola offers thoughts, advice and a lot of good references on
    starting calorie restriction. While making best use of these calorie
    restriction resources, remember that modest improvements to healthy
    lifespan today are just a part of the Longevity Meme. We must also
    actively support medical research to develop the effective, long term
    healthy life extension therapies of tomorrow.

    Stem Cell Progress on Parkinson's (September 17 2003)
    Researchers are making progress on developing stem cell therapies to
    treat Parkinson's (and other neurodegenerative conditions) as this BBC
    article shows. There have been some fairly impressive early work and
    demonstrations, but it seems we are still some way away from human
    trials of any therapy. In part, this is due to the stifling effects of
    restrictive or threatened legislation. In part, it is simply the case
    that more funding is needed. Part of the groundwork for healthy life
    extension is ensuring publicity and funding for medical development.
    This doesn't happen overnight, but please do see how you can help.

    InfoAging on Calorie Restriction (September 16 2003)
    The always informative (if a bit conservative) InfoAging has updated
    its calorie restriction pages. Calorie restriction is the only current
    scientifically proven way to extend healthy lifespan. If you want to
    learn more about calorie restriction diets and how to get started, the
    Longevity Meme provides some introductory materials and suggestions.
    It's worth noting that a number of companies (like BioMarker
    Pharmaceuticals) are working on developing age retarding therapies
    based on the mechanisms of calorie restriction.

    Syndication: What Are These Orange XML Logos? (September 16 2003)
    As you may have noticed, the Longevity Meme now supports RSS for most
    of the site content. RSS-enabled news aggregators and weblog tools
    (like NewsGator, Radio Userland, FeedReader, AmphetaDesk and many
    others) are becoming a useful alternative for organizing your access
    to news, articles, blogs and other online information. The orange
    "XML" logos on the Longevity Meme link to our various RSS feeds, and
    you can find an overview at our main syndication page. If you have
    questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us.

    Stem Cell Research Big In Japan (September 15 2003)
    The Financial Times notes that German drug marker Schering is
    embarking on a big stem cell research and development venture in
    Japan. Legislative and cultural conditions in Asia are far more
    condusive to this sort of aging research. Japan even has a "Respect
    the Aged" holiday! From the article: "When compared to the situation
    in the US and especially when compared to Germany, the conditions for
    cell research in Japan appear to be the most modern. The Japanese
    government has fully recognised the needs and the challenges of an
    ageing society."

    Longevity Doesn't Break Government Medical Services (September 15
    A lot of articles on the cost of increasing longevity to government
    medical programs have been published in past weeks, like this one from
    the Telegraph. Studies note that increased healthy longevity doesn't
    add to the cost of government health services. In other words,
    politicians might now look more favorably on healthy life extension
    research because it won't increase medicare (or NHS in the UK) costs.
    This is a typical modern governmental view, unfortunately. The idea
    that the system should serve the people, rather than vice versa, seems
    to be quaint and outmoded these days.

    Behind the Curtain at Alcor (September 15 2003)
    This article in the Tuscon Citizen is an interesting glimpse behind
    the curtain at Alcor. There are some more snippets of information on
    the reasons behind recent departures and a little insight into the
    financial workings of this non-profit. Cryonics is very much a niche
    service at the moment. As I have said before, I hope that this current
    media attention leads to a more professional, growing cryonics
    industry. That in turn will help turn public attention to issues of
    healthy life extension funding and research.

    Support the Immortality Institute (September 14 2003)
    The Immortality Institute is a growing non-profit organization with
    many of the same healthy life extension goals as the Longevity Meme.
    Education, outreach and advocacy for healthy life extension are all
    very important. Funding for age retarding research is determined by
    the popularity and publicity of healthy life extension as a cause. I
    encourage you to show your support for healthy life extension research
    and awareness by joining as a full member. Joining or not, you should
    certainly visit the Immortality Insitute forum to see an vibrant
    healthy life extension community in action. I hope to see you there!

    Standardizing Mice (September 14 2003)
    We talk about mice a lot here at the Longevity Meme. This is because
    mice are the testbed for most early healthy life extension research.
    If a new therapy makes mice live longer, healthier lives, then it is a
    shorter path to implementing the same therapy in humans. Here is an
    article from SAGE Crossroads that discusses the current state of mice
    in research. Apparently, medical research processes relating to mice
    are open to improvements (such as standards and better procedures)
    that should speed up the path to research results.

    Speeding up Alzheimer's Research (September 13 2003)
    An article from The Age highlights new chemical screening technology
    that speeds up the process of finding potential drugs by a factor of
    100. In this case, the technology is applied to Alzheimer's research,
    but we can expect to see it used elsewhere. Automation of
    time-consuming and expensive portions of medical research is one of
    the reasons we are seeing a speeding of the pace of discovery in
    medical science. Unfortunately, this has been matched with an dramatic
    increase in the costs and delays from bureaucratic requirements on the
    industry (such as those demanded by the expanding, slow FDA in the

    Pursuit of Longevity (September 13 2003)
    Acumen Journal of Sciences is running a for and against pair of
    articles on healthy life extension (found via the Immortality
    Institute). The pro-death, anti-research article is here. Medical
    scientists are working hard and obtaining results, but there is still
    a hill to climb while some doctors and researchers loudly declaim the
    need to block healthy life extension research. As I have said before,
    the biggest hurdle to overcome is public understanding and acceptance
    of the true potentials of medical research.

    Outlook Is Improving, More Can Be Done (September 12 2003)
    A short Reuters article discusses the upward trend in health and
    lifespan, a trend that appears to be speeding up. This, of course, is
    the result of decades of hard, successful work by medical researchers
    and the companies that commercialize their discoveries. The
    continuation and increased speed of this trend is what healthy life
    extension is all about! By staying healthy using the techniques and
    technologies of today, we can be alive and active to benefit further
    from the medicines of tomorrow. Medical research brings longer,
    healthier lives, and we should be doing all we can to support and
    encourage it.

    Interview With Michael Anissimov (September 12 2003)
    The Speculist is publishing an interview with Michael Anissimov, a
    director with the non-profit Immortality Institute. Some of the
    interview is devoted to speculative issues relating to Artificial
    Intelligence (AI) development and transhumanism, but the principle
    focus is healthy life extension. The presentation within related
    futurist and forward-looking contexts is interesting. After reading
    it, you should drop by the Immortality Institute and see how you can
    help their efforts to win the fight against aging and death.

    Dramatic Increase in the Number of Centenarians (September 11 2003)
    As reported in the Independent, rapidly increasing numbers of
    centenarians in developed countries like Japan are a testament to
    advances in medical science and quality of life over past decades.
    Improved health (via access to better medicine) throughout life will
    leader to healthier, longer livespans. This is an ongoing process:
    regenerative medicine, stem cell therapies and cures for
    neurodegenerative diseases are some of the next steps in better
    medicine for longer, healthier lives.

    Alcor CEO To Resign (September 11 2003)
    The Arizona Republic notes that Dr. Jerry Lemler will step down for
    health reasons. The article also follows up on recent controversy and
    updates a few of the ongoing Alcor stories from recent months. The
    publicity and change could be an opportunity for a better, more
    professional cryonics industry to emerge from these early
    organizations. Hopefully the chance will not be missed. New readers
    can find out more about cryonics and cryonic suspension at

    Why Diverse Research Goals Are Important (September 10 2003)
    This article from ScienceDaily is a little more technical than I
    usually like to publish, but I feel it illustrates an important
    principle: diverse research goals are important. Synergy between
    different biomedical fields leads to a more rapid advance of
    knowledge. In this case, Alzheimer's research laid the groundwork for
    a discovery relating to tissue growth and regeneration in kidneys and
    other organs. These sorts of collaborative advances are lost if we
    focus too hard on narrow areas of knowledge; any knowledge of basic
    biochemical processes within the body will eventually be turned to
    good use in the fight against aging.

    LEF on Legislation, Politics, Jerry Falwell (September 09 2003)
    Since we're talking about politics today, here is a lengthy and very
    informative article from the Life Extension Foundation. It addresses
    points in a wide ranging, ongoing conflict on pharmaceutical laws,
    politics, the role of the FDA and an unpleasant, uninformed commentary
    by Jerry Falwell. Pharmaceutical importation is a complex mess of an
    issue, but I think we should all agree that the actions of the FDA,
    lobbyists and Jerry Falwell are beyond the pale. It is worth noting
    that - quite separately from their supplement business - the LEF does
    fund and support healthy life extension research.

    The Divide Between Science and Politics (September 09 2003)
    This partisan article (found via Betterhumans) examines the way in
    which the current Republican US administration is blocking the advance
    of medical science.(Democrats are as dangerous to medical advances,
    just in different ways). The larger picture is that politicians in
    general (in the US and abroad) are hindering or blocking scientific
    research that will lead to longer, healthier lives. We must continue
    to speak up and oppose this wanton destruction of progress. It is up
    to us to defend our access to advanced medicine and our future health
    and longevity!

    $5M To UC Davis For Fundamental Aging Research (September 09 2003)
    The LEF News reports on an NIH grant to the University of California,
    Davis to study the fundamentals of aging and ways to extend healthy
    lifespan. This is a very small drop in the larger funding bucket, of
    course, but it is always welcome to see research in the field getting
    funded at all. From the article: "The human body has no expiration
    date limiting how long people can live ... the goal is to develop
    strategies on how to improve health while extending longevity."

    Eat Less, Exercise More, Live Longer (September 08 2003)
    (From the Edmonton Journal). I really cannot overemphasise how much of
    a difference a good diet and lifestyle makes to your natural healthy
    lifespan. Overweight, unfit and dying at 60 or living to a healthy 80
    or 100; the choice is in your hands. This article gives sensible
    advice, and you can find more sensible advice here at the Longevity
    Meme. Make the best of your natural healthy lifespan, and you'll be
    far more likely be alive and active to benefit from advances in
    healthy life extension medicine in years to come.

    Timeline for Growing Organs From Single Cells (September 08 2003)
    This short snippet from KUT notes a grant provided to a UT Austin
    professor to grow human organs from adult stem cells. It is
    interesting because this scientist, Dr. Roy, is prepared to give a
    timeline to his research. He feels that he should take five years for
    him to develop methods of growing a human organ from a single stem
    cell. This is very promising; the ability to grow organs for
    transplant on demand (and that will not be rejected by the immune
    system) is a vital technology for near-term healthy life extension.

    Stem Cell Transplants Cure Crohn's Disease (September 08 2003)
    Another advance in regenerative medicine is reported in the Reno
    Gazette-Journal. Ten sufferers of the deadly Crohn's disease have been
    cured by stem cell transplants that regenerate the damage to their
    intestines and immune system. The article focuses on the young man who
    will hopefully be number 11 and live to see a full life. This is the
    sort of amazing application of stem cell medicine, like recent
    advances in regenerating normally fatal heart damage, that we hope
    will become commonplace. Being able to regenerate any part of the body
    in this fashion will lead to large gains in healthy lifespan.


    Do you have comments for us, or want to discuss the newsletter? Visit
    the Longevity Meme forum at http://www.longevitymeme.org/forum.cfm, or
    send e-mail to [email protected].