Aging Now a Disease? Humanity Should Treat It Like One, Scientist Says

Scientists are starting to reconsider our major preconception about aging. Is it really a natural phenomenon or a disease that could be treated?

It may be helpful to remember that under this question are a lot of factors. For instance, is aging really just a natural process that we should recognize? Why then are we so focused on creating technologies that will reverse its effects?

Philosophers have regarded aging as one of the reasons why we are afraid of death, and it has led to quite a lot of lessons about “cherishing life” and “making every moment count.”

However, the biomedical community seems to be on the verge of rethinking their stance on the matter.

Cambridge University’s Aubrey de Grey has pondered the question for a while. A trained computer scientist and a self-taught biologist and gerontologist, de Grey has been trying to reframe our mentality about aging.

In an article by Scientist, De Grey said it may be time to consider aging as a pathologic process, as in one like cancer and diabetes that can be “treated.”

It is important to remember that “aging” is the term we use to describe the changes our bodies undergo over time. The early changes are good as we develop stronger muscles and better reflexes. However, our problems begin when we start getting thinner hair and weaker resistances. Not to mention, the human body has different parts that develop at different paces.

Any wrong move in the pacing of the growth of our body results to diseases. For instance, while lipids are a natural part of our diet, too much of it will make our blood vessels harden and narrow, leading to heart attacks.

De Grey said we can (and we should) view aging as something that could be prevented. A team of scientists also share this belief.

In their paper published in Frontiers in Genetics, scientists Sven Bulterijs, Raphaella Hull, Victor Bjork, and Avi Roy believe that a lot of diseases that affect us over time are caused by aging.

Diseases such as the Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome, Werner syndrome, and Dyskeratosis Congenita are considered diseases that affect teenagers and young adults. However, they are considered normal and unworthy of attention when they are seen in older people.

Interestingly, common bodily afflictions that come with aging such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, dementia, and sarcopenia are all considered “diseases.” What makes aging different?

And while some consider the debate as something purely semantic, as in the way in which we define certain terms, there are “benefits” for such a label.

For instance, labeling aging as a disease will better help physicians make more medical efforts to remove and treat conditions associated with aging that we normally ignore. Calling something a disease will merit some form of commitment to medical intervention.

Source: natureworldnews

Omega-3 Kills Cancer Cells

Docosahexanoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oils, has been shown to reduce the size of tumors and enhance the positive effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, while limiting its harmful side effects. The rat experiments provide some support for the plethora of health benefits often ascribed to omega-3 acids.

Professor A. M. El-Mowafy led a team of researchers from Mansoura University, Egypt, who studied DHA’s effects on solid tumors growing in mice, as well as investigating how this fatty acid interacts with cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug that is known to cause kidney damage. El-Mowafy said, “DHA elicited prominent chemopreventive effects on its own, and appreciably augmented those of cisplatin as well. Furthermore, this study is the first to reveal that DHA can obliterate lethal cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity and renal tissue injury.”

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is commonly found in cold-water fish oil, and some vegetable oils. It is a major component of brain gray matter and of the retina in most mammalian species and is considered essential for normal neurological and cellular developments. According to the authors, “While DHA has been tentatively linked with protection against cardiovascular, neurological and neoplastic diseases, there exists a paucity of research information, in particular regarding its interactions with existing chemotherapy drugs”. The researchers found that, at the molecular level, DHA acts by reducing leukocytosis (white blood cell accumulation), systemic inflammation, and oxidative stress – all processes that have been linked with tumour growth.

El-Mowafy and his colleagues have called for greater deployment of omega-3 in the fight against cancer. They write, “Our results suggest a new, fruitful drug regimen in the management of solid tumors based on combining cisplatin, and possibly other chemotherapeutics, with DHA

ScienceDaily (Apr. 5, 2009)

Why Fish Oils Help With Conditions Like Rheumatoid Arthritis How They Could Help Even More

New research from Queen Mary, University of London and Harvard Medical School has revealed precisely why taking fish oils can help with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

In a paper published in Nature October 28, researchers describe how the body converts an ingredient found in fish oils into another chemical called Resolvin D2 and how this chemical reduces the inflammation that leads to a variety of diseases.

The research also suggests that Resolvin D2 could be the basis for a new treatment for diseases including sepsis, stroke and arthritis. Unlike other anti-inflammatory drugs, this chemical does not seem to suppress the immune system.

The researchers, who were funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign, the Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health, looked at a particular ingredient of fish oils called DHA. They were able to show how the body converts DHA* into Resolvin D2 and discover its exact chemical structure.

Mauro Perretti, Professor of Immunopharmacology at Queen Mary, University of London, led the UK team. He said: “We have known for some time that fish oils can help with conditions like arthritis which are linked to inflammation. What we’ve shown here is how the body processes a particular ingredient of fish oils into Resolvin D2. We’ve also looked in detail at this chemical, determining at least some of the ways it relieves inflammation. It seems to be a very powerful chemical and a small amount can have a large effect.”

“This research is important because it explains at least one way in which fish oils can help in different types of arthritis. We can also work on this chemical and see if it can be used not only to treat or even prevent arthritis, but also as a possible treatment for a variety of other diseases associated with inflammation.”

Arthritis, and many other diseases, are caused by inflammation. This means that the body’s natural defenses against infections are mistakenly directed at healthy tissue.

Previous research has shown that a crucial step in this process occurs when white blood cells, called leukocytes, stick to the inner lining of the blood vessels, called the endothelium.

Researchers studied these blood cells and how they interact with the endothelium in the lab. When they added Resolvin D2 they found that the endothelial cells produced small amounts of nitric oxide, which acts as a chemical signal discouraging the white blood cells from sticking to the endothelial cells and preventing inflammation.

*DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid. Fish oils are a rich source of DHA.

ScienceDaily (Oct. 28, 2009)

Diet High In Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help Prevent A Leading Cause Of Blindness Among Elderly

Current research suggests that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent one of the leading causes of legal blindness among the elderly. The related report by Tuo et al, “A high omega-3 fatty acid diet reduces retinal lesions in a murine model of macular degeneration,” appears in the August 2009 issue of the American Journal of Pathology.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), loss of vision in the center of the visual field (macula) due to retinal damage, is one of the leading causes of legal blindness among the elderly. Approximately 10% of people from 66 to 74 years of age will develop some level of macular degeneration, making it difficult for them to read or even recognize faces.

A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids has been found to protect against a variety of diseases including atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Retrospective studies have suggested that diets high in fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids may also contribute to protection against AMD. A group led by Dr. Chi-Chao Chan at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, MD examined the direct effect of omega-3 fatty acids on a mouse model of AMD. A diet with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids resulted in slower lesion progression, with improvement in some lesions. These mice had lower levels of inflammatory molecules and higher levels of anti-inflammatory molecules, which may explain this protective effect.

Tuo et al suggest that “a diet enriched in EPA and DHA can ameliorate the progression of retinal lesions in their mouse model of AMD” and that “the results in these mice are in line with the epidemiological studies of AMD risk reduction by long chain n-3 fatty acids.” The results “further provide the scientific basis for the application of omega-3 fatty acids and their biologically active derivatives in the prevention and treatment of AMD.” In future studies, Dr. Chan and colleagues plan to use this murine model “to evaluate [other] therapies that might delay the development of AMD.” Their ongoing projects include the “testing of systematic delivered pharmacochaperones and antioxidative molecules, as well as intraocularly delivered gene therapies.”

ScienceDaily (July 25, 2009)