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Longevity Term Paper


The human body has specific genes that defend organism during hard times. The recent researches indicate that these genes can also improve the overall well-being and even prolong the life. David Sinclair and Lenny Guarente in their article “Unlocking the Secrets of Longevity Genes” investigate how understanding of genes’ work can reveal the keys to banishing the diseases of old age. Old age for a long time has been considered to be a logical biological stage of human development, as if the “aging” genes come into play when the body enters the stage of maturity. But is it possible to stop and even reverse the process of aging?

My personal opinion is that the process of aging cannot and should not be stopped. It is similar to death penalty when one human decides whether the person should live. The same is with aging – humans were created with some purpose and nobody can step over them. For example, animals have genes as well and every single creature in the world goes through developmental stages: birth, growth, maturity and death. Nevertheless, if to assume the position that the understanding of genes will help human body to fight with the diseases, such knowledge can be used for good purposes. It is not a secret to anybody that with aging humans become more vulnerable to the various diseases because body tends to wear out and is unable to cope with different viruses as effectively as it was in youth. If the aging of the cells can be slowed down, many people will be released from physical problems associated with age. Let’s see what David Sinclair and Lenny Guarente think about longevity genes.

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The article is the result of 15 year investigation and authors are confident enough that if the aging genes are present in human body, there is also a place for longevity genes. Moreover, a group of genes have been discovered that help an organism to deal with the stressful environment, scarcity of food and keep natural defense of the body. If scientists find out the way to activate these genes to the full potential, the life span of humans can greatly increase.
In the first section of the article entitled “Silence in Golden” the authors have provided a scientific explanation of what is longevity gene and how it was identified. The language of this section is complicated and is hard to understand for the average reader, however, the terms and specific words are omitted further in the article to maximize the understanding of the discussed materials. The major point is that each living organism contains special cells with unique gene which can improve the protective function of the body – an organism is able to fight with diseases without outside intrusion.

Before reading this article, I was confident that those authors who write about the healthy food and the need to reduce food consumption were much inspired by the American over-weight. Extra weight is a serious problem for many Americans, both adults and children. It is also scientifically proved that extra weight does cause severe health problems, especially heart diseases. However, in this article a new perspective is attributed to healthy food – if humans eat less, they are able to live longer. From the first point of view, it might seem that there is no logic in this claim. Why would one live longer if his consumption level is decreased by 40 percent compared to normal nutrition? Nevertheless, numerous studies performed on animals have proved that restriction of calorie intake is the only effective intervention able to extend life span.

Thus, the secret of longer life is very easy and available to everybody – eating less. Because of decreased consumption the body starts to survive, literally, and develop the protective mechanisms that make the organism less open for diseases. Thus, “understanding the mechanisms by which calorie restriction works and developing medicines that reproduce its health benefits have been tantalizing goals for decades” (Sinclair 2). This is how it works: the reduction of calories consumption is like a stress for an organism and it induces the defensive response. Moreover, it has been noticed that the restriction in food consumption is directly related to the activity of the longevity cells – they become more active and, therefore, extend the life span.

The assumption that food restriction is helpful for health of human bodies is very interesting. Moreover, every person is able to test this hypothesis on his own body, of course, without extreme restrictions in eating habits and if no diet is prescribed by a health specialist. If it really works, people have a real chance not only to become much healthier but also gain the opportunity to live longer lives. The article is written not from philosophical but from scientifically perspective and it makes the reader believe in ideas presented.

The authors emphasize several times in the article that all of the statements are based not merely on their won assumption, but on the laboratory tests, including the testing of yeast, worms and flies. Over the course of life, human cells are aging and the body loses non-renewable tissues such as heart and brain. If the aging of the important cells is slowed down, people will get the chance to live longer. From the first glance it is very easy to be healthy and people can live longer is they wish to. However, in reality the situation is more complicated. All of the possible solutions to old age and tissue wearing out have been tested on different species, but never humans. If the slowing down of aging was so easy to do, humans would live much longer today. Medicine would offer special pills to control the activity of necessary cells and increase the defensive function of body. However, there are no anti-aging pills available and global community still seeks the opportunity to extend the life span.

Authors make several references to recent studies the results of which increase the confidence that the assumptions about anti-aging techniques are working. Nevertheless, genes remain that part of human body which is almost impossible to be controlled. Maybe in the future the technological and medical advances will make it possible to implant necessary skills, to replace old tissues with the new and control the process of body aging. Such projections do not seem unreal any more and it is possible to imagine that one day humans will be able to live long years with healthy body. But for some reason, such projection is scary as well – it is like playing with the nature and trying to change the natural processes.

The issues discussed in the article are the topic for further investigation and testing, however, from logical and scientific points of view the possibility to slow down the process of aging is real. For an average person without special knowledge in cell structure and functioning, the idea about reduction of consumption as the mean to be healthier is more attractive compared to the activity of cells. There is one interesting point in the article – when humans consume less fat, the energy of the body (which is stored in fat cells) is activated when the body lacks this fat. There is some form of signal system within the organism and when there is not enough of something the cells send a signal to tissues notifying about the lack and, as the result, the body get defensive.

The reader is led to the idea that proper diet can help humans to protect themselves from such disease as cancer, arthritis, asthma and heart disease. So far these disorders are treated but very rarely the positive result is achieved. The human cells possess all necessary functions to help the organism to deal with these diseases. This claim is very encouraging and promising – finally, people have the hope to find the cure from all diseases. This hope is supported by researchers and drug developers who try to use advantage of natural defensives of our body in order to develop the drugs that activate the body defence.

For many years people were trying to find the secret of eternal youth and the authors are very optimistic about how the aging processes in out body can be slowed down. The simple diet (reduced consumption) helps to forestall aging in mammals and it can be working for humans as well. In order to address the aging properly, it is necessary to understand what causes human body to wear out. Such causes have been already identified and if to manipulate with several regulators and let the body take of itself, the lifespan will be extended.

The desire to stop aging process has been much analysed and numerous scientists wanted to find the answer or the key to change the life. One of the points is that chemicals and other outside substitutes are able to help the body fight with diseases while the major work is done by an organism itself. Therefore, why not to strengthen defensive functions and let the organism decide itself when the cells should start to age? Unfortunately, humans know very little on how to manipulate cell’s activity on individual level. For example, it is still impossible to reproduce the DNA structure in laboratory setting and it will be difficult to impact cell’s activity as well.

The article is very optimistic about the treatment of many diseases such as cancer and diabetes with the help of cell activity. However, this alternative has been analysed by other scientists and if the treatment is so easy, why so many people die each year because of these diseases? Despite of optimistic conclusions, the article leads to more questions rather than answers. The assumption is that the human body has longevity genes as opposed to aging genes is not more than an assumption. Scientists might try to identify these genes for many decades to come and then struggle to learn how manipulate anti-aging genes.

In conclusion, the key to long life will cause revolution in medicine because the diseases will be not only easy to treat but they would be prevented in the first place. Moreover, the humans will become entitled to decide how much they want to live and how healthy they want to be. The first step towards aging slowing is to reduce eating habits by one third. Every individual can do that and see the positive reaction of the body which gets healthier without special efforts.
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