Anti-aging therapies and doctor assisted dying

These anti-aging therapies include bio-identical hormonal replacement, management of oxidative stress with anti- oxidants, reduction of chronic inflammation a forerunner of atherosclerosis and heart disease, genetic-restoring telomere length, stem cell therapy to replace senescent cells, etc.

In one of my keynote presentations, I discuss 7 ways to slow the aging process. Hopefully by slowing and/or reversing the aging process, these individuals can also change their biological clock to a period when they did not have these chronic diseases!

Should these breakthroughs materialize, we may even witness the time when people in nursing homes may actually be discharged and return to their homes, much like we now do with patients who are sent home from hospital after recovering from a medical illness or surgical treatment.

Maybe the health status of those individuals requesting “assisted dying” could be enhanced or their delayed if their biological life clock was reversed to an earlier period when they did not have those debilitating symptoms.

The late Dr.Roy Walford. in his book Maximum Life Span relates the history of the government’s approach to the polio epidemic of the 1940’s and 50’s His comment: “… if the government had invested in perfecting better iron lungs we would now have the best designed most comfortable iron lungs imaginable inhabited by thousands of polio victims…” Instead, by investing in basic research and developing a vaccine, epidemics like polio and smallpox have now theoretically been eradicated from our planet.

Regarding nursing homes, Walford comments “…the vast social support structures continuously accumulating to care for the helpless elderly are the iron lungs of Gerontology…”

It should be noted that in the 19th century when Dr. Edward Jenner developed his crude smallpox vaccine, he and the world did not know that smallpox was also caused by a virus. In my view the current knowledge of the causes of the aging process is probably at the same stage when Jenner was experimenting with a smallpox vaccine which he tested on his own son.

We do not really know what causes the aging process that leads to the development of the chronic symptoms and diseases of the elderly, what I like to call the 5 “D’s-disability, depression, discomfort, dementia, chronic diseases, and death. Why do the levels of hormones like DHEA begin to drop after age 30?

Concussion film to air Dec 25/2015

On Dec 23/2015 while enjoying my supper with the family, I happened to look up at the TV screen to discover that the channel was commenting on the film Concussion to be aired on Christmas Day. I searched for their comments on this “biographical sports thriller” about the condition of CTE: chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Wikipedia’s evaluation of this film under its 9 sections was exceptionally well documented with special praises for the very talented actors-especially the role of the forensic pathologist.

As a medical doctor, a scientist and a gerontologist I was somewhat disappointed to find very little discussion on the preventative aspect of this disease. I guess their emphasis on the denial by the NFL of the problem of CTE was what made it a thriller.

Somehow it reminded me of the status of the polio epidemic of the 1940-50’s. The doctors and scientists of the day had a very important decision to make. They could have invested their resources in perfecting better iron lung machines. If that had been their decision we would now have the best designed iron lung machines inhabited by thousands of patients. Indeed an archival photo from one of the wards of a Winnipeg Hospital showed that this was already happening. Instead of iron lungs the decision was made to find a cure.

We all know the story: vaccines spearheaded by Sabin and Jonas Salk were soon developed. Now except for the occasional outbreak due mainly to the failure of vaccination of children, polio has all but been eliminated from the globe. A similar fate has happened to smallpox infections. The only difference was that in the case of smallpox , the vaccine was first developed in the 19th century by Dr. Edward Jenner long before it was known that smallpox like polio was caused by a virus.

In my view our knowledge of concussions and CTE is currently at the same level that smallpox was in the 1880’s when Dr. Jenner was practicing medicine. Even though we must confess that we really don’t seem to know the cause of concussions, maybe we can still find a cure without that knowledge.

I refer the reader to the small textbook entitled “The Physicians guide to Life extension Drugs” published by the Life Extension Foundation. I currently have the 1998 edition-It is a small volume of only 268 pages. Pages 141-150 discuss the pharmacologic properties of hydergine. Reading this chapter especially the “cat experiment ” suggested to me that this drug might have protective properties in the early phases of a head injury assuming hypoxia and free radical pathology are at play and that this damage occurs before features of a concussion are diagnosed clinically.

Elsewhere I have suggested that players engaged in contact sport might first- take a tablet of this drug before they begin playing. Much like we take our Vitamin C pills to prevent those winter flus. Or like the surgeons who give hydergine intravenously to their patients in some European countries before they begin their cardiac or other major surgeries on their patients as a preventative measure should the patients experience cardiac arrest on the operating table.

Now wouldn’t that make a fascinating medical thriller? I am sure that if Berton Roueche, author of “Eleven Blue Men”, ¬†knew about this epidemic of concussions he might have changed the title of his book to “Twelve Blue Men”.