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Top 10 Longevity Techniques

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Updated June 15, 2007

Claims of longer life have always captivated people. While no one knows for sure what might extend life, these ten concepts are currently the most-discussed methods. Some are scientifically and medically proven and others are pure theory.

1. Lifestyle Change

  • Method: Increase physical activities, eat a low fat diet with lots of vegetables, be relaxed, be social, and be engaged in the world.
  • Claim: Making changes in your daily life can extend your healthy years greatly by reducing your chance of getting a chronic illness.
  • Proof: Excellent. Lifestyle change is your best bet to increase your life span and give yourself healthy, energetic years into old age.

2. Calorie Restriction

  • Method: Reduce daily calorie intake to below 1500.
  • Claim: Calorie restriction can extend human life span to 120 years.
  • Proof: Gaining. Studies in mice and other lab animals have shown that restricted caloric intake can extend life and prevent chronic illness. Given the huge amount of calories the average American eats, calorie restriction could certainly help prevent diabetes and heart disease.

3. Stem Cells

  • Method: Stem cells are special cells that can grow into a number of specialized tissues in the body, including organs and nerve cells..
  • Claim: Stem cells will be used to treat illness, repair organs and extend life.
  • Proof: Gaining. Research into stem cells is just beginning and ethical obstacles are slowing progress, but stem cell-based treatments for illnesses are expected to begin over the next decade.

4. Cryonics

  • Method: Freeze a living person so that they can be revived at a later time when anti-aging treatments are more effective.
  • Claim: If you could wait some decades or centuries, human life span will be greatly increased.
  • Proof: None.

5. NanoMedicine

  • Method: Deliver treatments at the cellular level to mark and destroy cancer cells, perform cellular surgery and deliver medications.
  • Claim: Nanotechnology will be able to treat many diseases through nanosurgery, nanobots, nanoshells, and other marvelous nanoinventions.
  • Proof: Shows promise. Research is currently being done on a large scale. Expect new developments soon.

6. Genetic Modification

  • Method: Modify the genetic code to create individuals who generate increased antioxidants, reduced inflammation, improved cardiovascular heath, etc.
  • Claim:Genetic modification could add an unknown number of years onto the human life span.
  • Proof:Beginning. Genetic modification in fruit flies and other simple laboratory models have been shown effective. However, experiments in humans may be decades away.

7. Environmental Change

  • Method: Create environments that help us live longer.
  • Claim: Increase life expectancy by reducing the number of premature deaths caused by dangers in the environment.
  • Proof: Excellent. Seat belts, air pollution control, enriched food products, and removal of lead from gas have all contributed greatly to the increase in life expectancy.

8. Telomeres

  • Method: Telomeres are the physical ends of certain types of chromosomes. They shorten as a cell replicates. When all the telomeres are gone, the cell dies. They are important in the replication and protection of DNA.
  • Claim:Telomeres are how cells are programmed to die. Modification of telomeres may impact how cells age.
  • Proof: Research is just beginning. Cancer cells have an enzyme that prevents the telomeres from getting shorter, creating a cell that does not naturally die.

9. Supplements

  • Method: Take supplements to increase the body's ability to fight aging.
  • Claim: Supplements containing antioxidants, green tea extract, selenium and other substances will reduce and repair damage caused by aging.
  • Proof: Moderate. Antioxidants and other food substances have been shown to improve heart disease and reduce inflammation. Drug companies are trying now to create medications that will concentrate the effects of foods like red wine and green tea. Many supplements are unproven and could be dangerous. Studies of people taking more than one supplement are rare.

10. Hormones

  • Method: Maintain hormones at the level of a 20-year-old to slow aging
  • Claim: Human growth hormone, testosterone, melatonin and other hormone supplements can slow or even reverse aging.
  • Proof: Moderate. Individual hormones have been shown to impact aging in experiments with rats and mice. The combined effect of being on multiple hormone substitution is unknown. There are a lot of wild theories out there about hormones, stick to what is covered in established medical journals and consult your doctor.

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