Human life has a limit, that someday we must exit to make place for others. Until then, we do everything to maintain an optimum state of health
By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee
World Senior Citizens Day. Pic – Pic – Assistance to the Elderly_ Inc
Yet another World Day, the World Senior Citizens Day which apparently was on Sunday 21st August. Personally, I didn’t even know that until – you guessed it! – I received some posts from other senior citizens. The fact is that there is some world day or the other almost every other day of the year, and it is difficult to keep track. At individual level, and especially when one is a senior citizen, one can remember only a few world days according to one’s professional or personal interest. For me, for example, World Health Day is one such, and connected with that is International Yoga Day because it promotes good health, which must logically be the starting point for being a healthy senior citizen later on.
In fact, this underlies the recent concept of healthy aging, which is about reaching old age in the best state of health possible, and then engage in sound activities which will make that last till the final call comes. Scientists and doctors have for a few decades now been pursuing studies into the fundamental biological processes that take place when a person ages, and many such studies are conducted on animal models whose biology shares similarities with that of humans. From there, if clues emerge, they hope to biologically tweak the mechanisms involved, such as modifying genes, or developing effective new drugs.
Alternatively, an existing drug may also be investigated that would extend the life time. For example, the commonly used anti-diabetic drug Metformin has been found to have such properties. However, it is one thing to prescribe it for diabetic patients – and an ethical dilemma to recommend it to be taken by otherwise normal people (that is, with no known disease) for the rest of their lives in the hope that they will prolong it. Besides the issue of side effects that will definitely arise from prolonged use, perhaps the more fundamental question is: by how many years will the lifetime be extended?
There is no answer to that question as yet. On the other hand, extrapolating from studies that have been conducted on a worm about a cm long, C.elegans, that is very appropriate for experimenting upon, it has been suggested that potentially human life could be extended up to 800 years. Earlier, other studies had concluded that without any such tweaking but assuming a healthy lifestyle is pursued, humans could possibly go up to 140 years. Read More… Become a Subscriber
Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 26 August 2022
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