Science Takes on Death

Los Angeles Times - - PARADE -

A longevity pill that helps ev­ery­one live to 100 or older is years off. But Bill Gif­ford, who sur­veyed the sci­en­tific land­scape (and put his own body un­der the mi­cro­scope) in his new book, Spring Chicken: How to Stay Young For­ever (or Die Try­ing) (Grand Cen­tral Pub­lish­ing), found a few sub­stances that

might help us cruise past the usual 80-plus mark.

Ra­pamycin has been found to ex­tend the lives of both healthy and can­cer-stricken mice and is cur­rently ap­proved by the FDA for sup­press­ing the im­mune sys­tem in kid­ney trans­plant pa­tients. The hitch: the mi­crobe ham­pers your im­mune sys­tem and could make you more vul­ner­a­ble to in­fec­tions, and it may in­crease in­sulin re­sis­tance, a con­trib­u­tor to di­a­betes. “It has the most po­ten­tial but also the great­est num­ber of side ef­fects,” Gif­ford says.

Met­formin (a com­mon di­a­betes drug) has ex­tended the life­span of mice, and may re­duce the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and can­cer in hu­man di­a­bet­ics. “There may come a day when ev­ery­one over 50 will take it, but we’re not there yet,” says Gif­ford.

As­pirin and ibupro­fen may even­tu­ally prove to have mod­est ef­fects on life­span be­cause the pills re­duce in­flam­ma­tion, a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to aging. Still, when overused, both can cause stom­ach ul­cers and bleed­ing.

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