A new breakthrough in science is going to grab alot of attention — Scientists Stop the Aging Process. Visions of smooth skin, hair that never grays, and youthful health and radiance are generated at a title like that. Who doesn’t want to stop the aging process?
The article is not about infinite beauty and strength, however. In fact, it’s not even about hindering the aging process in the body as a whole. It’s an article about scientists stopping the aging process in only one organ — a liver. A mouse liver, to be exact.
So what? What does this have to do with us?
Not only do our visions of eternal youth fall away quickly within the first two paragraphs of the article, the scientific lingo is hard to comprehend and it seems to have nothing to do with us everyday people. So, they stopped mouse livers from aging. How does that benefit us?
It may not benefit us today, but it may have far-reaching effects on our children. In this study, the excitement surrounds the fact that scientists figured out how to stop the aging process by blocking the build-up of harmful proteins within cells. Because cells lose their ability to do this, as people age, toxic material builds up in the cells. It is this build-up that plays a role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
It puts a different spin on things when one considers the ramifications of such a finding. This goes beyond keeping a youthful appearance. This is about people’s lives that would otherwise be incapacitated and cut short by diseases that are devastating to watch unfold, diseases that rob the strong bodies of people with bright minds and rob the bright minds of people with healthy bodies.
To think that advances in medicine might be able to stave off the symptoms of these diseases because of these findings, would give many a second chance at life. Although the article seems to indicate the disease itself can’t be prohibited, it is the aid in helping cells do their jobs of removing harmful toxins that can prolong the ravages of the diseases.
In this particular study, only a liver was stopped from aging, but Associate Professor Ana Maria Cuervo, who led the team of researchers, believes that what they used to stop the aging process in the liver cells can be used in cells throughout the body. This means that every single cell in the human body that is no longer ridding itself of toxins can be aided in once again doing their job.
If this research resulted in what it claims it will result in, in just ten years’ time, think of the nursing home populations and how they will decrease! Although I can’t find data that states what percentage of patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s make up nursing home populations, as someone who worked in one, I would venture to say it’s a high percentage. With research like this, that would no longer be the case.
Families who watched the horrifying mental deterioration of family members diagnosed with Alzheimer’s would be given an extended period of time with those they love. No longer would individuals go visit their spouses who have no clue who they are. Children would not have to take care of parents who became violent and verbally abusive, a far cry from the parent they once were, because Alzheimer’s is taking over their mind and changing them. Grandchildren would be recognized by their grandparents and would be able to have many more years to form lasting memories instead of being cheated out of them.
Think of the people like Michael J. Fox who are living with weakened bodies because of Parkinson’s. They would find strength once again and not be limited to canes, wheelchairs, and even beds. Instead of years of being trapped in a body that won’t work for them, they could still live life as they always did. What a blessing this would be.
Cuervo pointed out that, in the research, the lives of the mice were not extended, but there were some improved survival rates in the treated mice. The findings did not so much extend life, as they made the quality of the end of life optimal. That is an invaluable finding.
Though some of us fear death, others of us fear a slow, drawn-out demise even more. The finality of life is not disturbing as much as the thought of having bodies that won’t move and work for us, leaving us dependent on others to bathe and feed us. Others of us find ourselves overcome with anxiety at the thought of losing our minds and not being able to remember loved ones, much less being cognitive of our actions and speech. With research like this, those of us with those fears could find old age approaching and not be filled with dread like we once were.
We aren’t fully reliant on just scientific research for this, however. Professor Cuervo made a simple, yet somber statement regarding all of this:
“It is also possible that the same kind of ‘cellular clearance’ can be achieved through diet, she says.
Research over the past decade has shown that restricted calorie intake in animals, including mammals, significantly enhances longevity.
‘My ideal intervention in the future would be a better diet rather than a pill,’ she says.”
This should give us as much hope, if not more, than the findings this article. It puts our health and our later years in our power. We can’t put junk into our bodies in our younger years, hoping that science comes through for us in our later years; what we do now affects our future.
If what we do now still results in disease, then that is when scientific breakthroughs like this will come through for us. But let’s not let our bodies get to the point where we need astounding discoveries to help us live life to the fullest. We can take care of our bodies on our own and we don’t need scientists working on lab mice to teach us how to do it.