Anti-Aging Medicine and Life Extension: The Past, Present and Future
By Phil Micans, PharmB
Ever since the beginning of recorded time, man has been fascinated with three basic principle problems. (1) Alchemy, or the turning of base metals into gold. (2) Being able to travel to other planets and (3) Immortality, or at the very least the serious extension of healthy human life-span.
Technically, the first two have been achieved and their methods are now being improved upon, but the basic length of the human life span has more or less remained unchanged since the Roman times. For whilst the numbers of people living longer has dramatically increased, the facts are, that many wealthy Romans died in their 70’s and 80’s and a few people throughout history have managed to reach about 120 years of age before death. So principally, these life-span limiting factors have remained about the same.
But over the last few decades and indeed even in a few recent years, scientists and researchers have made huge breakthroughs in the understanding of the biochemical aging processes. Today, thousands of physicians are now formed into Anti-Aging Medicine societies and organizations. The information and services that these are now providing, is for the first time in human history, about to have a dramatic effect upon the extension of the healthy human life span.
Anti-Aging Medicine: History
Alexander Bogomolets was one of the first “modern” scientists to propose a method of life extension, when he wrote the book, The Prolongation of Life in 1939. In that same year, Vladimir Korenchevsky founded the British Club for Research on Aging, (which was the first Gerontological Society in the world). Indeed, Korenchevsky went on to organize the 1st International Congress of Gerontology in 1950 and he also encouraged the great Fritz Verzar to pursue aging research.
Some of Korenchevsky’s breakthroughs and indeed at that time, radical ideas, included the promotion of vitamins, hormones (particularly the thyroid) and yogurt, as Anti-Aging remedies.
Fritz Verzar, founded the department of Physiology and Experimental Pathology at the University of Debrechen, Hungary, which is still ongoing today. He also supervised the Hungarian Biological Institute and formed the first Institute for Experimental Gerontology in Basel, Switzerland in 1956. A lot of Verzar’s work was well ahead of its time, for example, he published Absorption from the Intestine in 1936 and it was written so clearly, that it was republished verbatim in 1967. Nearer the end of his life, Verzar published Experimental Gerontology in Stuttgart in 1967. It summarized his basic research in the field, and today the same Journal is still one of the core medical Journals in Gerontology.
Many other scientists also pursued other paths, that collectively can be termed “Anti-Aging” or if you prefer, preventative medicine. For example, the work of Paul Neihans in 1931 with cell therapy, is the foundation for all modern variants of cell therapies.
But it was probably Ana Aslan of Romania who in 1949, realized that aging needed to be treated as a separate form of medicine, and she helped to found the modern concept of Anti-Aging Medicine. Her work lead to the development of what many believe was the first Anti-Aging Medicine- Gerovital-H3, and she helped to found the world’s first Institute for Geriatrics and Gerontology, which was established in Bucharest in 1956.
Aslan realized that aging needed to be treated and not just accepted. She understood for the first time about the special needs that older patients had. However, she went further than that and instituted what is the primary difference between Anti-Aging Medicine and Gerontology.
Aslan started to use preventative medicine and to treat patients in their forties, before the more serious signs of aging had begun. Fundamentally, this is the difference between Anti-Aging Medicine and Gerontology Medicine; for Gerontology treats aging after the signs have occurred, whereas Anti-Aging Medicine helps to prevent aging before the signs have occurred.
But it was probably not until Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw in 1981, that the concepts and ideas of Anti-Aging Medicine came to the attention of the public. In their groundbreaking and best selling book, Life Extension, they drew heavily on all the various scientific and clinically published articles about how vitamins, minerals, amino acids, hormones and indeed some drugs, can have an affect on the biological aging process.
They helped to promote the phrase, orthomolecular, which had first been suggested by the great Vitamin C researcher and Nobel Laurate, Linus Pauling. In-essence, orthomolecular, means natural to and in the body and therefore is closely aligned with the chemicals the body needs, (such as vitamins) and the chemicals the body manufactures, (such as hormones).
The basic thesis of Life Extension, is that as we get older, the body is “attacked” by various methods, (free radicals, cross-linking, genetic deterioration etc.) and that a hormonal decline occurs. (Although in some rare cases it is noted that some hormones tend to increase their production with age). The results of this change are well known to us all; reduced muscle mass, increased fatty tissue, less energy, worsening memory, reduced concentration and vigilance, bone loss, disturbed sleep patterns, skin/ hair/ eye problems etc. But the core message of Life Extension stated, perhaps clearly for the first time, that through the use of various methods, that these hormonal balances could be maintained at more youthful levels, thus slowing down the aging decline and in some cases keeping it in check.
So for the first time, we are now able to understand the idea of “biological age” and not just “chronological age.” In other words, we can now measure and interrupt the biological changes in our body’s that cause aging disorders and diseases. After all, we all look at people and make comments to ourselves such as, “they are aging well”, or indeed “they are not aging well.” But now we have biological aging markers that are means to actually measure those parameters and place a value on the “speed” of our individual aging. This way, an Anti-Aging physician is able to determine if a particular regime or supplement is having an effect upon slowing, or even halting an aging process.
Anti-Aging Medicine: Today
So what has occurred since 1981? Well one of the most important contributions has been the formation of numerous professional Anti-Aging associations. This in turn, has helped to encourage the dissemination of scientific information. For example, there are thousands of professional medical memberships in organizations such as the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, the American College for Advancement in Medicine, the International College for Advanced Longevity Medicine, the British Longevity Society and International Antiaging Systems. Principally these organizations issue newsletters, publications and hold regular meetings and conferences around the world that enable the word about Anti-Aging Medicine to spread even faster.
For example, at the forthcoming 3rd Monte Carlo Anti-Aging Conference, which is to be held September 6-7, 2002 at Le Grand Hotel, Monaco, over 400 professional attendees are expected to discuss the latest scientific and clinical advances in international procedures, nutrition and medicine.
Just some of the topics of the lectures include; the Russian cure for senile cataract with an eye-drop: The use of natural cell defenses against cancer: The discovery of breast cancer markers: The use of various natural hormone replacement therapies for men and women: Detoxification of heavy metals and allergies: The membrane hypothesis of aging: Improving and maintaining sexual desire in senior years: Cell sensequence, gene intervention therapies and the impact on human longevity.
Anti-Aging Medicine: Tomorrow
The types of predictions that are being made at such professional conferences tend to astound the average person when they hear them for the first time. But the clearer scientific understanding of how our various biological processes work together, combined with a truly natural preventative medicine approach, may allow us to have healthy, disease free life spans of several centuries, not just several decades (sic).
What’s more, much of the “technology” to make this happen already exists, or is very much “in the pipeline.” The kind of information that is being presented at the 3rd Monte Carlo Anti-Aging Conference is not confined to the realms of science fiction, with “suggestions” such as one day this may be possible, or one day that may be possible.
Most Anti-Aging scientists and researchers agree that fundamental and far reaching advances in Anti-Aging Medicine, are merely a few years away!
About the author:
Phil Micans, PharmB., has degrees in Food and Vitamin Technology and Pharmacology. He has been actively involved in Anti-Aging Medicine since 1986 and became initially interested after reading Pearson and Shaw’s book; Life Extension. His current accreditations include being Editor of the Anti-Aging Bulletin, consultant to the International Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine, co-writer of The New Millennium Guide to Anti-Aging Medicine and the A4M Anti-Aging PDR. He is also Vice President of International Anti-Aging Systems.
Phil Micans, PharmB., will be one of the speakers at the forthcoming 3rd Monte Carlo Anti-Aging Conference. Set for September 6-7, 2002, further details of this breakthrough event are available at www.antiaging-conference.com or by calling Mr. Brad Eitner in the UK on +44 (0) 870 901 7878.