Life Extension: The Modern Anti-Aging Movement – Are We Standing on the Threshold of Immortality?

A Long Way From a Drop of Lanoline

Why is skincare the main focus of longevity research? I suppose a cell is a cell, and for those who can crack the code for one human cell, it is just a matter of time to solving the puzzle with several types of cell – and skin is doubtless essentially the most visible cells each of us have. And it’s our faces specifically we frequently judge ourselves and others by, and we’re in turn quickly scrutinized, and sometimes opinions reached in a fraction of a second. Our faces often show essentially the most visible signs of aging, and for a lot of in modern society age is by nature “bad” and young or looking young is the best. That’s the reason billions and billions of dollars every year are poured by consumers into all types of treatments to attenuate wrinkles, to thrust back the consequences of gravity, and to show back the hands of time. And with that much money to be spent by consumers, there are a lot of manufacturers desperate to find the following step in arresting Father Time – and at the very least detaining him until the following stagecoach arrives, where hopefully he will be encouraged to maneuver on before an excessive amount of damage will be done.

The Entire Issue Explained – In A Pair of Shoelaces

A while ago a friend gave me a straightforward analogy that puts this complete issue in perspective. The science may not win a Nobel Prize, but it surely gave me the crucial ah-ha moment.

The double helix of the DNA strand – our most simple foundation for all times – is held together at each end by things that act in the identical way because the hard plastic bits on the tip of shoelaces do – stopping the DNA from unraveling, and the person chromosomes scattering across the ground like dropping a string of pearls down a marble staircase. This stuff are called telomeres.

Somewhere programmed into these tiny telomeres is the whole basis to how long the DNA stays intact – and by inference these are the keys to the length of lifetime of the organism. Somewhere written into the telomere is an awesome musical rating but like all musical scores it has a double bar somewhere to indicate the tip; but is it to be a minuet or a Wagnerian epic? But sure enough, when the time comes, and the telomeres blow the total time whistle, the DNA strand will unravel and die – and the circle of life begins again. Telomeres govern how often our skin cells are replaced; why a puppy and a toddler born on the identical date may age the exact same chronologically, however the puppy has grow to be a geriatric before the kid reaches puberty.

Telomeres, my friend explained, occasionally go on the fritz (that should have a really specific scientific meaning). One in every of the ways this happens is they might forget their programming to release and unravel, they usually just hang on, allowing the cells thus affected to multiply repeatedly without dying. In actual fact, when this happens often they grow to be very difficult to kill and to all intents and purposes once the telomeres act in this fashion, the cell – and people it propagates – are effectively immortal.

This condition has a reputation which everyone knows. Cancer.

But, what if we were able in some option to persuade the telomeres inside a cancer to behave normally – would that not be the “magic bullet” cure for cancer? And the opposite side to that equation – if the telomeres in healthy cells could possibly be persuaded to act as they do in a cancer – then is that this the recipe for a healthy cell that doesn’t die? Does the cure for cancer and immortality hang on just this one thread?

Whatever your views could also be, the truth is that among the world’s finest research scientists are working on that exact query and a few would say it is just a matter of a decade or two before that is neither conjecture nor science fiction, but a reality to resist. The changes that may happen in society even when life expectancy were to take a breakthrough by say 10 or 20 years are enormous, but we should always all be considering that this can be a distinct possibility.

From the dab of lanoline a generation ago to what I do know hold in my hand as an anti aging skincare treatment is greater than only a revolution – and I even have little question in just a few years I can be saying this cream is not going to just slow the aging process and reduce the visible signs of aging, making your face appear younger – but it should actually be younger.

But before that, let’s look back at how this whole engagement with life extension and anti-aging began. Mankind has all the time striven for longevity and mused about immortality – however the past 50 years has seen some dramatic steps in point of fact toward this goal.


The considered extending life has been on the mind of mankind for millennia. References to the search for methods to delay life will be found way back to the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Gilgamesh was reputedly the fifth king of the dominion of Uruk, the modern-day Iraq, around 2500 BC. In response to the Sumerian list of kings, he reigned for 126 years. The Torah or Old Testament records Methuselah as living over 900 years, with life spans measured in centuries apparently commonplace before the time of Noah.

Throughout the event of scientific thought from the Reformation onwards, scholars have applied themselves to solving this riddle and these endeavors proceed today on the very forefront of scientific progress.

Unraveling Secrets

Because the secrets of our existence are unraveled in ever more minute detail, we’re starting to know what it’s that makes us grow from tiny babies into adults. We now know, for instance, that cell functions decelerate because the body ages and that production of certain substances required by the body to regenerate decrease or stop completely.

Skin, as an example, needs two substances to retain strength and firmness.

The production of those substances namely collagen (strength, tightness) and elastin (flexibility) decreases with age. The decreases in production along with other aspects that include the specter of free radicals make the skin age and grow to be wrinkly. Free radicals are essentially incomplete oxygen molecules causing destructive chain reactions inside cells.

The identical sort of thing happens in every cell, every tissue and organ across the human body. For instance, people develop frown lines, crow’s feet and wrinkles. Nutrients aren’t any longer absorbed easily and vital cell functions, hormones and other substances are produced at decreased rates leading to the body aging.

A Temporary History of the Life Extension Movement

Science has been searching for ways to decelerate this process for hundreds of years. The forming of life extension movements, nonetheless, did probably not begin until around 1970.

➢ On this 12 months, Denham Harman, the originator of the so-called ‘free radical theory of aging’, decided that a company dedicated to the research and data sharing between scientists working in biogerontology (the sphere of science concerned with the biological elements involved within the aging process) was needed. Because of this, the American Aging Association was formed.

➢ In 1976, two futurists, Philip Gordon and Joel Kurtzman wrote a book on the research into extending the human lifespan. This popular volume was titled ‘No More Dying. The Conquest Of Aging And The Extension Of Human Life’.

➢ Kurtzman was then invited to talk at Florida’s House Select Committee (HSC) of Aging, which was chaired by Claude Pepper, an American politician and spokesman for the elderly. The aim of this talk was to debate the impact on Social Security by life extension.

➢ In 1980, Saul Kent, a outstanding activist in the sphere of life extension, published the book ‘The Life Extension Revolution’ and founded the nutraceutical (from ‘nutrition’ and ‘pharmaceutical’, in other words, a nutrition complement) firm often called ‘The Life Extension Foundation’.

This foundation is a non-profit making organization promoting dietary supplements and publishing the periodical ‘Life Extension Magazine’. Kent was later involved in work referring to cryogenics. He was jailed in the midst of this work over a dispute at one point, although charges were dropped at a later stage.

➢ In 1982, American health author and life extension advocate Sandy Shaw and her co-writer, Durk Pearson, popularized the term ‘life extension’ even further with the bestseller ‘Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach’.

➢ Roy Walford, a gerontologist and life-extensionist, published ‘Maximum Lifespan’, one other popular book on the topic. He and Richard Weindruch, his student, followed this up in 1988 with their summary on the research they’d conducted into the flexibility to delay the lifetime of rodents through calorie restriction. The title of this book is ‘The Retardation of Aging and Disease by Dietary Restriction’.

Although this ability to increase life with calorie restriction had been known because the 1930’s, when gerontologist, biochemist and nutritionist Clive McCay did some research into the topic, it was the work of Walford and Weinbruch that gave solid scientific grounding to the McCay’s findings.

Walford’s scientific work was driven by a private interest in life extension. He practiced calorie restriction as a part of his own life and eventually died on the age of 80. The explanation for his death was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive motor neuron disease.

➢ A4M, the ‘American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine’ was founded in 1992 to create a medical specialty for anti aging that was distinctly separate from geriatrics. This allowed scientists and physicians excited about this particular field of science to carry conferences and discuss the most recent developments.

➢ The, a Usenet group, was created by California-born writer, philosopher and translator Brian M. Delaney. This represented a very important development inside the movement of life extension. It made it possible, for instance, for the CR (Calorie Restriction) Society to be created.

➢ A more moderen development is the proposal of Dr A. de Grey, a biogerontologist at Cambridge University. This proposal suggested that damage to cells, macromolecules, organs and tissues will be repaired with the assistance of advanced biotechnology. This is obvious in hair restoration products, as an example.

Greater than Books

Although it might appear that almost all of the work revolving around life extension has been done solely by writing books or founding societies or organizations of some kind or one other, the truth is that these books were written in response to or based on very specific, detailed scientific research which have yielded positive results.

They aren’t any longer the works of hopeful minds, however the works of dedicated scientists who’ve spent their lives working on discovering facts about aging and trying to search out ways to decelerate, and even reverse the method.

Many breakthroughs have been made, and in some ways, we’re already capable of extend lives to a certain extent. The common lifespan of a human being is already far greater than it was because of this of medical, pharmaceutical and dietary advances caused by research and development.

The work continues, and scientists world wide are continually conducting research, comparing results, discussing options and making advances on our behalf.

Driving Forces behind the Development of the Life Extension Movement

What aspects are driving this movement into ever greater efforts to search out solutions to the extension of Life? The reply to this query actually includes an entire range of things.

Expectations Have Risen

Because the ‘baby boomer’ generation (born between 1946-1964) enters retirement age, expectations of this group are dramatically different from those of the preceding generations. They’ve greater expectations and desires to enjoy their life as pensioners to the fullest and for so long as is feasible. This expectation covers not only length of life, but quality of life as well and this isn’t a passive request but an energetic and strident demand in lots of cases.


Progress in pharmacology has led to a wide variety of medication that allow people to live longer and fuller lives being developed over the past twenty years or so. The work remains to be very much in progress and lots of more drugs are being developed day by day.

One in every of the classic examples of a drug raising the standard of life for older individuals are erectile dysfunction treatments – notably Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. These drugs have dramatically reduced the variety of fatalities or serious injury resulting from elderly men rolling off the bed, in addition to a lot of more qualitative advantages.

Advances in Genetics

A few of the latest scientific research and subsequent advances made in biotechnology and genetics are providing some hope that it could be possible to carry back among the fundamental causes of aging.

As we outlined previously, chromosomes containing DNA strings are essentially capped with a binding substance often called telomeres. In effect, the telomeres are consumed during cell division and over time, they grow to be shorter and shorter.

This was first observed by a scientist called Leonard Hayflick, and the means of limited cell division was subsequently named the Hayflick Limit. Advocates of life extension work on the thought that lengthening the telomeres through drugs or gene therapy may ultimately extend the Hayflick Limit and thereby idiot the cells, and as such the body, into ‘considering’ it’s younger than it actually is.

Developments in Precision Manufacture

Advances made within the fields of nanotechnology, miniaturization, computer chips and robotics also provide hope for potentially life extending solutions.

Within the 1970’s, a preferred TV series starred Lee Majors because the ‘Six Million Dollar Man’? Science fiction then. Today, it’s science fact. Thousands and thousands of individuals now walk through life with artificial ankle, knee and hip joints and healthy feet. A generation ago, mass production of this type of technology was a distant dream.

The identical applies to many individuals with artificial limbs. Artificial legs was crude wood contraptions that were just capable of keep an individual balanced. Today’s artificial limbs are almost fully functional.

The Blessings of Medical Progress

Who would have thought even 50 years ago that it might grow to be possible to bypass a coronary artery, and even replace a heart completely? Yet there are a whole bunch of 1000’s, if not thousands and thousands of people having fun with their lives after having this type of surgery – few of whom can be alive just half a century ago.

Thousands and thousands of individuals now not need to wear glasses, due to the supply of laser surgery. This, too, was science fiction just just a few years ago. Today, it’s advertised next to shampoo in magazines and on TV.

In other words, science is moving rapidly towards not only extending life, but making the standard of those extra years higher as well.

Is it Science, Science Fiction or Lunacy?

What should the common person imagine? This query is sort of as difficult to reply as finding solutions to prolonged life. Even amongst scientists, opinions are divided. Some do imagine that extending the standard of life is as possible as extending life generally.

Others brush off the thought as un-scientific nonsense. This is commonly simply based on the fear of anything ‘recent’ disturbing the established order of established limits. Fortunately, real scientists do carry on looking, because if each scientist had decided that among the advancements already in medical, pharmaceutical and technological fields couldn’t be possible, we’d all still be dying at 30.

So where does that leave us?

There isn’t a doubt what-so-ever that there are a lot of charlatans on the market attempting to make a fast buck out of individuals’s desire to retain their youth. Even today, many products being sold of their thousands and thousands are essentially non-effective – often given improbable names and have essentially the most bewildering ingredients to make them look scientific to consumers and justify their cost.

However the facts are while many advancements are being made and research points to the potential for eventually finding the important thing to maintaining youth for longer, the scientific community remains to be warning the general public that most of the products being sold today are unreliable to say the least.

➢ Although food supplements may assist in keeping a body healthier – something that may often be achieved by simply adopting a healthier life style and weight-reduction plan – there may be as yet no categorical and undeniable proof that they decelerate aging as such.

➢ The identical goes for a lot of hormone treatments. Although they might have a brief term effect of some kind, it isn’t yet scientifically proven that they may actually work in the long term. The fear that it could not work relies on the indisputable fact that taking hormones, a very good example is the hormonal pimples treatment, will ultimately actually decelerate the body’s own production of those hormones.

As well as, many treatments could have potential (and yet unknown) unwanted effects in the long term that could possibly be harmful to the user’s health. This includes the fears that such hormone treatments could increase the danger of cancer, diabetes and other major illnesses.

➢ Other ideas, just like the calorie restriction method, are working for rodents. In actual fact, studies conducted with rats on 30 to 50 per cent restricted diets have shown to almost double the life span of rats.

Similar studies conducted on primates have also shown tendency to increase life to a certain extent and stop an inventory of age related illnesses. There are as yet no studies on humans, although some are literally living on calorie restricted diets. Whether this may delay their lives, nonetheless, is an issue of getting to attend and see.

The speculation is that by reducing calorie intake, the metabolism of the body is slowed down, thereby slowing the aging process as well. Nutritionists say there may be a specific amount of calories a body of a certain size and weight must have to keep up health. Reducing this amount by as much as 50 per cent is hardly a very good idea in the long run.

Time will tell, as they are saying, but how will anyone find a way to inform the difference? If an individual lives to the age of 80, is that this because they’re on this weight-reduction plan or would they’ve lived to this age anyway?

Where Will This Lead?

Many imagine there may be realistic hope and expectation of constructing significant strides in the world of longevity inside the following twenty years. This group typically believes the reply will ultimately lie inside genetics and biotechnology. It is just too early to make definite predictions, however the research up to now shows promise and, as mentioned earlier, among the results of this research are already getting used in certain treatments to enhance patients’ lives.

At present, overall aging is difficult to decelerate, to say the least. Some products indicate they may assist in maintaining overall health/longevity, but the world we’re seeing the primary industrial products being developed is in the world of skincare and given the scale of this market, it is probably going that this may proceed to be the weather-vane of longevity treatments.

Science or Snake Oil?

It is going to be difficult to inform these two apart for a few years. Charlatans are prone to about, since it is difficult to disprove many theories easily. Equally difficult can be positive proof from those with an ethical perspective on the trail of an actual breakthrough, as products based on valid research and using technology or ingredients that may actually have an impact rarely promise overnight results. That is something that anyone looking to search out improved youthful looks, etc, could have to keep in mind. None of those products can perform miracles. Even the most effective of them will take time and regular use so as to achieve the specified effect.

The underside line is that where we stand now, we will make sure there are some things that are ineffective and even harmful; there are some that show some promise and there are some which are beginning to cross the road of having the ability to exhibit results – albeit modestly at this point.

Within the meantime, it is smart to research products very rigorously and to refuse to be baffled by bizarre sounding ingredients or improbable sounding guarantees of easy youth. Regeneration will take time – let’s face it, it has taken a lifetime to get so far, turning back the clock can never be possible over night.

Skin Care and the Life Extension Movement

One could ask just what all this, and specifically the life extension movement as such, could possibly need to do with skincare, health and sweetness products. The actual fact is, much of the research into life extension is leading to recent approaches to skincare as a sort of by-product.

A greater understanding of how genetics and cellular processes affect the aging and condition of skin allows these research and development teams to analyze different compounds, their compatibility with human cells and genetic make up.

Many compounds present in nature aren’t just compatible to human skin but in truth the skin cells even have natural receptors for these compounds. Because life extension research has discovered these receptors, skincare developers can now use this information and create the formulae for his or her products to supply maximum effect.

One other skincare ‘by-product’ of life extension research is using nanotechnology. The usage of nanotechnology, or, to be more precise, nanoparticles, has had a big impact on the way in which nutrients and other components of skincare products are being delivered to the skin cells. In some ways, nanotechnology has already revolutionized skincare. It’s now possible to make use of energetic ingredients previously difficult to effectively deliver to the skin, in addition to making old, proven ingredients even more practical. Some ingredients utilized in cosmetics for a whole bunch, if not 1000’s of years by certain cultures can now be much more effectively used to enhance skin condition and maintain a healthy, youthful look.

Even the moisturizing effect of skincare products will be improved with nantechnology. For this effect, so-called nanosomes are used. Nanosomes are small, pocket-like particles that melt or disintegrate on skin contact. By doing this, the moisturising effect is accelerated, assisting the skin faster and more efficiently.

Nanotechnology plays a key part not only in slowing the aging of skin, but is believed to actively assist in repairing and healing skin cells and tissue.

One other breakthrough in life extension research that’s starting to make itself felt in skincare products is the research into stem cells. Stem cells are elements of all life, plant, animal and human. Stem cells have two properties other cells don’t have. These properties are the flexibility to grow to be any sort of cell type and the flexibility to divide almost indefinitely. The usage of plant stem cell extracts in skincare is prone to grow to be one in all the following ‘big things’ within the industry. And prepare for the talk when human stem cells are proposed as a part of an anti-aging skincare regime, as will inevitably occur!

One thing we will make certain of, is that science will proceed to look for answers to the query of life extension, and business will drive the commercialization of discoveries. But whether these lead us to a utopian future or potentially a minefield of strife as we debate who will use and who will profit from these recent godlike powers. Within the meantime, at a practical level within the skincare, health and sweetness industry we remain hopeful and expectant we’ll see the emergence of products that not only promise results, but produce them.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.