When Dr. Bill Thomas was writing “Second Wind” I did some research for the book and my favorite topic was on “Denialism” and the war on aging.
In the book, “Denialists” are one of three sub-cultures that define the post-war generation today. They are the folks who believe we are on the verge of cheating death — if we could only crack the code of aging. After all, we’ve made miraculous strides in extending the human lifespan in recent decades, right?
Wrong. Despite all the marvels of modern medicine, there is no evidence that any technology has helped a single human extend their life by a single day. Sure, we’ve developed lots of interventions that help keep people from dying prematurely (particularly infants), which extends average “life expectancy” (and even those statistics are threatened by things like childhood obesity and antibiotic-resistant “super-bugs”). But we’re not even close to understanding the immensely complex mechanics of aging, let alone “curing” it.
Or are we?
This week Katie Couric brought us the latest anti-aging media hype with an “exclusive look at [the] strictly guarded mouse lab” of Harvard Medical School research David Sinclair. With the hyperbolic headline “There’s No Limit on the Human Lifespan” I was genuinely curious what breakthrough had been discovered.
Sinclair is well known in anti-aging circles for his research on resveratrol, a molecule in grapes that appeared to keep over-fed mice healthy when they were fed large quantities of it (think a 100 bottles of wine worth per day).
That was ten years ago. What amazing breakthroughs has he developed in his secret mouse lab since then?
Apparently, besides self-medicating himself and his parents with resveratrol and feeling “fit and healthy”, the answer is nothing. All he revealed to Couric is that he’s prematurely aging mice in order to test whether “new molecules” can return them to their younger and healthier state. The results of his testing? Don’t hold your breath — Sinclair said he’s still years away from proving anything, let alone developing treatments for people.
So here we are with another hyped up anti-aging non-news story ironically about shortening the lives of mice rather than extending them (I wish Couric had asked him what method he prefers — cigarettes, stress, fried food?). I find this piece so ridiculous I’m not even going to dignify it with a link. Google it if you must watch it.
Instead, I will share a video from my favorite vlogger Hank Green exploring the age old question “Why We Age and Can We Stop It”. Hank is not what I’d call a pro-aging “Enthusiast”, but he provides the best rundown on the science of aging and longevity I’ve ever seen. Plus, he lives in my hometown of Missoula (406 represent!) and his brother John Green is even cooler than Hank. Just don’t tell Hank I said that.