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leads to osteoarthritis. Senescence of astrocytes is associated with the deterioration of Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic brain inflammation is thought to be one of the causes of neuron death in Alzheimer’s. The article went on to explain, “Since senescent cells seem to cause some of the symptoms and disorders of aging, one avenue towards developing anti-aging therapies is to find drugs that selectively kill senescent cells. These therapies are known as senolytics. In the past few years, several senolytic drug candidates have been developed and tested on mice. They do, indeed, kill senescent cells and have various health benefits for aged mice, or fast-aging strains of mice. Senolytics sometimes show effects immediately after a single dose, even on old mice, as well as having preventive effects on aging if given regularly.” Despite the link between certain medications and aging, Schwarcz said that calorie restriction has been the only surefire way (so far) that scientists have found to slow aging in animals. He writes, “The idea that less is more when it comes to eating is not new. Today, members of the Calorie Restriction Society consume nomore than 2,000 calories per day, which is just over half of what an average North American wolfs down. They do it by following a diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and fish. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology , the austere regimen is paying off. Researchers examined the heart function of 25 members of the Calorie Restriction Society and, to their amazement, found that the hearts functioned like those of people 15 years younger.” While scientists try to find a safe way of administering anti-aging drugs to reverse the effects of getting older, the best we can do is be proactive about our individual choices: knowwhat you’re putting into your body (food, drink and medications), take control of your physical health by exercising, and do what you can to control other factors in your life, such as stress. And let’s just hope that, in the coming years, science can help aid our efforts in living longer, more productive lives. Longevity by Jennifer Cox Unlocking the key to longevity with science W e’ve explored all kinds of links between our everyday habits and longevity, from what we eat or drink to the activities in which we take part, where we live, and more. And, while there are some concrete links between our habits and our life expectancy, the aging process and how it unfolds has a lot to do with basic science, specifically chemistry. A recent article published by Joe Schwarcz in The Montreal Gazette looked at just that: the chemistry behind longevity. He writes: “As we age, an increasing number of our cells enter a stage of ‘sen- escence’, in which they no longer divide and they begin to release chemicals that cause inflammation, resulting in damage to tissues. A buildup of senescent cells, sometimes called ‘zombie cells’, is a hallmark of aging. When researchers at the Mayo Clinic injected just a small number of senescent cells into young mice, their speed, endurance and strength deteriorated to that seen in a senior mouse in just a fewweeks. When the mice were then treated with desatinib and quercetin − a combination of drugs known to destroy senes- cent cells − they recovered most of their lost physical capabilities within two weeks! While quercetin is a safe compound extracted from apple peel, desatinib is a very expensive leukemia drug with loads of side-effects. Still, this experiment is a proof of principle, demonstrating that destroying senescent cells with ‘senolytics’ is worthy of exploration.” The Lifespan Research Institute has also examined the effects of senescent cells and the role they play in diseases of aging. The cells are highly concentrated at the sites of age-related diseases, such as atherosclerosis and osteoarthritis, and chronic inflammation due to senescent cells can cause age-related vascular dysfunction and ath- erosclerosis. The proinflammatory factor IL-6, released by senescent cells, causes insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes as well. Inflammatory cytokines also cause inflammation of cartilage, which 36 | www. snowbirds .org