February 24, 2007

From Michael Ricciardi:

Re: “Youth” pills, hawked online, win over top scientists (Feb. 9): Ah, would that there were a pill to make us REMEMBER the lessons of the past (as oppose to just returning to youthfulness). . .

Remember Durk Pearson and his ‘Life Extension’ science of nutrition--the 1980’s health craze that lead to millions of people taking ‘mega-dosages’ of of vitamin C (amongst other nutritional substances)?. . . Then in the late 1990’s and early 00’s we learn that mega-dosages of vitamin C result in an accumulation of ‘geno-toxins’ within our cells nuclei--causing potential damage to the DNA). . . . . . Yet, of course, vitamin C is crucial for a healthy existence. So, how could more of a vital thing be bad for you, right?

My Pearson is no doubt a highly intelligent person/academic (MIT professor, I believe). But highly intelligent people are not immune from ‘brain arrogance’ and the subtle, but culturally pervasive, commercial message that ‘more is better’.

Long before the discovery of resveratrol, studies were conducted that showed a modest (but significant) life extension benefit to moderate alcohol consumption (beer included), especially (surprise) red wines (these earlier studies did not naroow it down to Merlots). If memory serves me, the scientific recommendation for such alcohol consumption was “more than once a month but less than once per day” (i. e. , number of drinks). Clearly, that leaves much room for moderation.

I do not doubt that resveratrol has some health benefit (anti-oxidant activity), nor that some people will derive some psychological benefit from these pills, making one’s ‘outlook on life’ less worrisome.

But, the human body is an intricate and inexact machine; its ‘output’ does not equal the sum of its inputs.


Blogger Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D. said...

Thank you for your interesting post!
I thought perhaps you may also find this related story interesting to you:
Longevity Science: SENS

April 22, 2007 3:54 PM  

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