~ 071108 Time to Take on Time

To significantly reduce disease, we must slow the aging process, according to a team of experts who published their conclusion online in the British Medical Journal on July 8. In an article entitled, "New model of health promotion and disease prevention for the 21st century," Professor S. Jay Olshansky of the University of Illinois at Chicago and his associates suggest that the current focus on preventing and curing individual diseases will become outmoded as people in developed countries live longer and develop the multiple chronic illnesses that come with aging.

"The change in strategy we are calling for requires a systematic attack on aging itself," they write. "Evidence in models ranging from invertebrates to mammals suggests that all living things, including humans, possess biochemical mechanisms that influence how quickly we age and that they are adjustable."

Due to a greater life expectancy in developed countries, the increased incidence of diseases related to aging has resulted in a dramatic rise in health care costs. Dr Olshansky and colleagues note that if an extended life span is combined with health, it could result in a number of economic, social, and other benefits, which they call "the longevity dividend." They propose increased funding for studies that will increase our knowledge concerning the relationship of aging to such diseases as type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and most cancers, in addition to research into the processes that control aging itself.

In an accompanying analysis entitled, "Has the time come to take on time itself?" associate professor Colin Farrelly of the department of political science at Canada's University of Waterloo notes that the Alliance for Aging Research has called on Congress to invest three billion dollars annually into research that would increase our understanding of the biology of aging. "To those who ask, 'Can we afford to invest more in such research?'" he writes, "We can reply: 'Can we really afford not to tackle aging?' That is the really important question. And the answer clearly is no."

Related Health Concern: Prevention

Mainstream medicine has relied on simple measures of preventing disease, such as controlling hypertension, yet many doctors are coming to the realization that additional steps can be taken to protect against premature aging and death. In fact, the results of tens of thousands of scientific studies make it abundantly clear that following the proper lifestyle can add a significant number of healthy years to the average person's lifespan.

The premise of taking actions to maintain youthful health and vigor is based on findings from peer-reviewed scientific studies that identify specific factors that cause us to develop degenerative disease. These studies suggest that the consumption of certain foods, food extracts, hormones, or drugs will help to prevent common diseases that are associated with normal aging.

Therefore, the concept of disease prevention can be defined as the incorporation of findings from published scientific studies into a logical daily regimen that enables an individual to attain optimal health and longevity.

The National Academy of Sciences published three reports showing that the effects of aging may be partially reversible with a combination of acetyl-L-carnitine and lipoic acid (Hagen et al. 2002). One of these studies showed that supplementation with these two nutrients resulted in a partial reversal of the decline of mitochondrial membrane function while consumption of oxygen significantly increased. This study demonstrated that the combination of acetyl-L-carnitine and lipoic acid improved ambulatory activity, with a significantly greater degree of improvement in the old rats compared to the young ones.

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