- For centuries scientists have been attempting to come up with an elixir of youth. Now remarkable discoveries are suggesting that ageing is something flexible that can ultimately be manipulated.
Horizon meets the scientists who are attempting to piece together why we age and more vitally for all of us, what we can do to prevent it. But which theory will prevail?
Does the 95-year-old woman who smokes two packets of cigarettes a day hold the clue? Do blueberries really delay signs of ageing or is it more a question of attitude? Does the real key to controlling how we age lie with a five-year-old boy with an extraordinary ageing disease or with a self-experimenting Harvard professor?
Could one of these breakthroughs really see our lives extend past 120 years?
We see the usual suspects such as event driven aging, calorie restriction and telemere length. All the kind of stuff that you are probably aware of. Around the forty-three minute mark one of the scientists involved identified three genes that were associated (over-represented) within centenarians. It was noted that:
- Two of the genes increased 'good' cholesterol (HDL) in a 'significant way',
- A third gene seemed important to 'prevent diabetes'
Now where have I heard of a diet that performs something similar? The guy says adds that no drug he knows of performs a similar increase in HDL. Hmmmm. Well, I guess you could always await the manufacture of some drug that mimic the same behaviour.
Of additional note is a scientist who destroyed the myth surrounding the notion of 'oxidative stress causing aging and the consequent benefits of antioxidants' (20:00). She stated that,
- "People didn't want to accept what we found because there is too much investment in this area of research. Antioxidants are a multi-million dollar industry as you know..."
Nothing new with this attitude then.
The final section of the film follows some research from the 1970s where several pensioners were moved off to live in a place where they HAD to be self-sufficient. After a few days they showed significant improvements in their health markers. After a week many of them showed improved gait, improved eyesight and hearing, and, improved IQ!