Will There Ever Be a Way to Beat Aging?

The world’s population is now growing older and living longer than ever before. There are now more than 900 million people aged 60 and over, and that figure is projected to reach a staggering 2.1 billion by 2050. However, mortality still looms large for even the healthiest of retirees and no matter how much medicine and old age care improve, the inevitable still cannot be avoided. This brings us to one of the oldest questions of human civilization, the issue of aging and whether it is truly possible to not only halt the process but also reverse it and preserve life indefinitely.

Modern culture is now focused on prolonging the average lifespan through government-backed initiatives and other regulations that aim to tackle obesity, reduce the number of smokers, and urge people to eat five fruit or vegetables every day. All these factors have a significant impact in reducing a person’s long-term health and, in the majority of cases, can greatly reduce their life expectancy. Many of these issues have complex causes but they can be combatted by relatively simple solutions. Lifestyle trends such as being vegan, going teetotal, reducing sugar intake, opting for a gluten-free diet, and exercising regularly are helping everyone from Gen Z to baby boomers to improve their health while also combatting the signs of aging.

In addition to what people consume on the inside, more men and women are turning to cosmetic surgery to look younger. In 2016 alone, there were almost 1.8 million surgical cosmetic procedures in the US, with breast augmentation, liposuction, nose reshaping, eyelid surgeries, and facelifts topping the list. There were also 15.5 million minimally invasive ones. These also focus on combating aging through the use of botox, soft-tissue fillers, chemical peels, and microdermabrasions, which is a process that involves sanding the skin to improve complexion.

While these surgeries will offer a youthful appearance for a brief period, however, they will not beat aging completely.T his, in turn, posits a question about whether these external signs can be halted indefinitely. Scientists at the University of Arizona believe that aging is “mathematically inevitable” and that eliminating poorly functioning cells with the view to turning back time could actually lead to the development of more cancer cells and actually increase the speed of aging. “You might be able to slow down aging but you can’t stop it,” University of Arizona Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Joanna Maselstated. However, recent advances in tech and new trials are continuing to test this theory and to push the limits of human advancement.

Slowing down the process is an area that researchers are primarily focusing on as they attempt to find solutions for prolonging lifespan and preserving youth. The University of Washington and the Buck Institute found in 2016 that by deleting certain genes in yeast, they could extend its lifespan significantly. The Salk Institute also completed successful aging reversal trials on mice, managing to increase the life of the rodents by as much as 30 percent. It predicts that human trials will be ready by the middle of the next decade. With these incredible developments, the issue of time and aging that has occupied scientists, philosophers and artists for millennia could potentially be resolved at last.

The work by the Salk team was significant, and a new report published in January 2018 called “Circulation Research” claims that regenerative reprogramming and the use of injections could actually reverse the body clock in our organs. Using this technique, which is centered on the use of chemicals to reverse epigenetic changes rather than stem cells, it may be possible to make aged cells more youthful again. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmont headed the original study, and he claims that aging does not have to occur in a “single direction” and that it has “plasticity”, and “careful modulation” may reverse the process entirely.

Mikhail Blagosklonny has been a pioneer in possible treatments for life extension and anti-aging drugs through his work as editor-in-chief of various scientific journals, including Cell Cycle, Aging, and Oncotarget. While other research is often focused on the aging process in isolation, Blagosklonny also covers the treatment of cancer and the connection between the disease and aging. It can be argued that no single advance would have a more profound impact on aging as a cure for cancer as more people would be able to live for longer. In particular, Blagosklonny also wants any anti-aging and cancer treatments to be more effective and less debilitating and expensive for the individual.

Newer forms of technology are sure to offer new answers to questions about the aging process during the next decade. A poll by Futurism, an online outlet that covers scientific breakthroughs and discoveries that shape humanity’s future, found that 40 percent of its readers believe that aging will be reversible between 2030 and 2040 and that artificial superintelligence and robotics are likely to play a major role. For now, several technologies are close to fruition, including the use of stem cells to make people healthier and prolong life and flooding the body with coenzyme NAD+ to optimize cell functionality, which could reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s and cases of skin cancer and other diseases.

However, none of these technologies will reverse aging. That will have to wait for now as the world’s brightest minds continue in their attempts to find creative new methods to solve one of life’s most pertinent riddles.

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