Can We Cure Aging -...

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http://discovermagazine.com/2007/dec/can-we-cure- aging?utm_campaign=Discover%20Magazine%20Health%20%26%20Medicine%20Newsletter%2012 se&utm_term=Can%20We%20Cure%20Aging%3F Discover newsletter 12.04.2007 Can We Cure Aging? Controlling inflammation could be the key to a healthy old age. by Kathleen McGowan Jim Hammond is an elite athlete. He works out two hours a day with a trainer, pushing himself through sprints, runs, and strength-building exercises. His resting heart rate is below 50. He’s won three gold medals and one silver in amateur competitions this year alone, running races from 100 to 800 meters. In his division, he’s broken four national racing records. But perhaps the most elite thing about Hammond is his age. He is 93. And really, there’s nothing much wrong with him, aside from the fact that he doesn’t see very well. He takes no drugs and has no complaints, although his hair long ago turned white and his skin is no longer taut. His secret? He doesn’t have one. Hammond never took exceptional measures during his long life to preserve his health. He did not exercise regularly until his fifties and didn’t get serious about it until his eighties, when he began training for the Georgia Golden Olympics. “I love nothing better than winning,” he says. “It’s been a wonderful thing for me.” Hammond is aging, certainly, but somehow he isn’t getting old—at least, not in the way we usually think about it. They say aging is one of the only certain things in life. But it turns out they were wrong. In recent years, gerontologists have overturned much of the conventional wisdom about getting old. Aging is not the simple result of the passage of time. According to a provocative new view, it is actually something our
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own bodies create, a side effect of the essential inflammatory system that protects us against infectious disease. As we fight off invaders, we inflict massive collateral damage on ourselves, poisoning our own organs and breaking down our own tissues. We are our own worst enemy. This paradox is transforming the way we understand aging. It is also changing our understanding of what diseases are and where they come from. Inflammation seems to underlie not just senescence but all the chronic illnesses that often come along with it: diabetes, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, heart attack. “Inflammatory factors predict virtually all bad outcomes in humans,” says Russell Tracy, a professor of pathology and biochemistry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, whose pioneering research helped demonstrate the role of inflammation in heart disease. “It predicts having heart attacks, having heart failure, becoming diabetic; predicts becoming fragile in old age; predicts cognitive function decline, even cancer to a certain extent.” The idea that chronic diseases might be caused by persistent inflammation has been kicking around
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This note was uploaded on 07/11/2008 for the course BIO G 110 taught by Professor Wayne,r. during the Spring '07 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Can We Cure Aging -...

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