November 16, 2008

Convergence08: Day 2 closing panel on longevity

Bruce Ames: Whenever you're short of any micronutrient you're aging faster. High calorie food with no nutritive value is a bane, things like chips and soda pop.

Terry Grossman: "I treat the condition of aging." It's possible to make a significant impact on your longevity by your lifestyle choice, eating in particular. Aging has one purpose: To destroy our health and result in our death. It's a unique disease in that it afflicts 100% of us and has thus far proved 100% fatal. New book coming up in April: Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Longer. We can reprogram our biochemistry to rewrite our outdated stone age code. Our ancestors were well suited to a world of scarcity, while we are in a world of abundance.

Gregory Benford: Benford talks about his research and its implications -- working to augment their genes in the defense of aging. Diabetes is a predictor of Alzheimer's; we share 75% of our genome with fruit flies. Fruit flies get diabetes and Alzheimer's.

Aubrey deGrey: Describes himself as being the most ambitious of the group. But he qualifies that by saying it's because he's the most pessimistic. We need a new approach that's more preventative than the geriatric approach. This has led Aubrey to the belief that we need to apply regenerative medicine to the problem of aging. He said that Terry Grossman and Ray Kurzweil recapitulated many of his views in their book."

Christine Peter, the moderator, asks the question that, given limited resources, what should people be doing? Testing? Supplements? Perfect diet? Give all money to Methuselah?

Bruce Ames answers that we can do a lot by improving our diets. "Micronutrients are dirt cheap." Our "awful" diets are impacting on our bodies and our brains -- a disaster to our health -- more cancer, diabetes, and so on.

Terry says we should begin with the things that are free, like exercise. Another thing we can do is reduce your calories -- even think about caloric reduction. Cut calories by 10-20%. We should take a multi-vitamin or mineral and supplement fish oil. We also need more vitamin D. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death, so get tested and get screened (coronary calcium squirt test). Also consider standard cancer screening.

Benford says that too many people in middle age go down hill quickly and say, "the game's not over, but at least I get to watch it." He says middle agers need to snap out of this and not give up at that critical stage.

Aubrey applauds all things mentioned. In addition, a lot can be done by simply raising awareness in time to make serious benefits to those who are alive today. People should work to help by raising the legitimacy of these discussions; ensure that people don't change the subject. This is about keeping people health and not sick. Advocacy can cost money, however.

Ames recommends a multivitamin mineral drink from Costco.

[Q&A from the audience begins]

Ames doesn't feel that organic foods give you any advantage, feels that environmental claims are over-stated.

Keith Henson wants the naked mole rat's genome sequenced. Aubrey agrees and makes the case that systems biology is improving and will be better applied to longevity science.

Aubrey agrees with the next questioner that it's important to be concerned about quality of life and not just sheer longevity.

[Five minute wrap-up]

Bruce goes over the importance of micronutrients again. We need to fix up our conceptions about nutrition big time.


Stu said...

what's this mineral drink from costco called?

George said...

Unfortunately, Bruce never said.

Unknown said...

Dear Convergence Attendees,
I am very jealous that I did not get to attend the conference!
Sounds excellent.

I am writing to see if you have considered another upcoming 'strand' of future history that is coming along with the drive for an increased healthspan.

Those who have diseases now that will kill them THIS year, but be likely curable in 10 years are going to want to 'jump forward' 10 years.

Have you seen that a company in your beloved country ('21st Century Medicine') has reversibly suspended individual organs... i.e. suspended them, then brought them back from -145C/-225F???
The 'revived' organs work in animals (rabbits) and so there is no reason why the same will not work for humans.

YOU - ALL OF YOU WHO ATTENDED THE CONFERENCE - are just a collection of organs ...
Reversible suspension of a whole animal is coming... ;-)
YOU are at risk of getting a cancer today, which might leave you dead in a year.

We are losing time to put your insurance policy in place people!
Or do you want to die?

Dr Adrian Ternouth
Emergency Medicine Specialist - Australia - MBBS FACEM