Can We Slow Down Aging?

Aging is a complex concept that has emotional and physical impacts on a person. It is a futile topic to worry about, yet it looms as a dark cloud, ready to rain on your parade one day. Science fiction movies have innovated ways to slow down and preserve a human for years before and after their death. Scientists have experimented solutions to the ever growing concern of staying young. No one seems to have an actual and feasible solution but there are several ways to slow down one’s aging.

There is no best way to slow down aging but there are simple ways that can alter the way aging can consume us. Medical advances and technology have already helped the world raise the longevity period from 48 years to 71 years, thus improving human life span. But what takes us to a lifespan of 91 years or even 100 years? The answer might be to improve the “health span.” Health care has been stagnant in that respect because not everything is helping to slow the aging process as it is to slowing the dying process.

As we get older, stress becomes a big factor in our life and it is blamed as one of the sole reasons people age faster. Stress releases free radicals that can denature proteins in our body and cause a huge problem in the long run, especially if the stress is chronic, but stress is an essential part of being human. It is actually necessary for the body to train its sympathetic nervous system, our “fight-or-flight” response. So the main focus is how to keep the cells healthy in our body even with factors like stress.

Cells in our body undergo mitosis (division) constantly, and the body has found many solutions on repairing them in case of a mutation. A cell stops dividing after 50 times to protect us from cancer in the body. These “zombie” cells do not stay in the body for a long time but are taken out by the immune system. However, as we age, the number of Zombie cells increases ridiculously. Zombie cells eat up the collagen in our body which causes one to look aged so scientists have found that there are two methods to prevent this: developing “Zombie” agents to kill the cells and to rejuvenate Zombie cells so they act as regular cells once again. Although these solutions are theoretically brilliant, practically they can destroy an entire organ system! It can make the problem worse and can even cause cancer. There have been more studies collected and conducted regarding rejuvenating “Zombie” cells and there has been progress, but not enough to see a difference within the next decade or so.

Another popular topic regarding slowing down aging is cryonics. It is the hypothetical science seen in sci-fi movies that freezes a living person’s body to preserve them when time is right for them to wake up. Cryonics is built on the concept of freezing meat to avoid bacterial damage and to be readily available for use. But the problem with the defrosting of a human body is: how do you find an oven big enough and how will it actually preserve our body? Ice is no friend to our physical composition and can damage the fragility of our bodies. We have fluids everywhere in our system and when water freezes, it expands which can burst our vessels and organs! Scientists’ solution to the problem: turning our fluids to glass. Glass has no crystals that can burst our vessels but it make not be the only solution. Other preservatives like methanol, formamide, and butanediol maybe be toxic but can be used in the way glass can.

We are on the path to a new beginning of slowing down aging. There is a lot of work to be done for the future but all will come to fruition when we are able to say our longevity can extend to 100 years!

References:

https://nypost.com/2019/03/02/science-has-figured-out-how-to-freeze-the-aging-process/

https://www.inverse.com/article/25906-cryogenics-cryonics-vitrification-freezing-preservation-life-extension

Radhika-Alicia Patel