Volume 4 no 33. First published June 1992. ISSN 0964-5659.
Taking Stock Brian W. Haines
Why Do We Age Douglas Skrecky
The Cause of Ageing Douglas Skrecky
Cryonics End Yvan Bozzonetti
Glittering at Night With a Million Lights Bob Brakeman
New Age Medicine Brian W. Haines
God and Cryonics Marie McNulty
Letters (Cancer, God, Religion)
Recent Research and Diabetics Douglas Skrecky
Me, My Doctors, and HRT Chrissie Loveday
by Brian W. Haines
Perhaps this is the shape of things to come. It had to happen. Headlines like these could become common-place. What about "Grandson gives away Grandfathers' head" sometime around the year 2000?
People who can't keep up the payments may be tempted to find ways of relieving themselves of the burdens placed upon trusts set up to maintain systems of freezing. The great problem that will confront any future generation will be dead hand of the previous generation. It is not enough to believe investments will be able to provide sufficient money to service the foundations dedicated to cryonic suspension. The really hard part will be to anticipate the obvious effects of such recessions we are experiencing at the moment.
Anyone who has walked around an old country church will have seen the good intentions of various local benefactors. Large boards proclaim the sums set aside as trusts to help the needy poor. In the days the trusts were set down, such sums as one shilling per week were regarded as more than generous provision, well covered by the hundred pounds invested by the benefactor. One hundred years ago not even the most deranged economist would have dared to suggest the cost of living would have multiplied a hundred times.
With the economic system we have today whereby inflation is a built in means of constantly eroding the fixed income, there is every possibility that for every thousand pounds we would expect to see as a service charge, in fifty years the sum required will be fifty thousand pounds.
It is difficult to find a formula that will ensure the financial stability of any fund set up to pay a service charge. With many funds designed merely to provide an income it does not matter whether the amount varies from year to year. In the case of a fund set up to provide for a continuing service it is an important consideration. It has to be remembered the principal monies do not themselves get any larger, while the actual service requirement will increase with the cost of living. It is a commonplace of bureaucracy that the larger an organisation grows so to do the overheads. The more people who enter into the cryonic experience does not mean the charges decrease as the years go by. It may well also be that the longer a person is kept in the suspended state then the costs of maintenance go up to counter the effects of aging.
It must be now time to take stock of what has happened so far to see what are the economic realities of the situation. Now is the time to extrapolate the experiences of all the organisations, and all the people who to date have partaken of this unique form of preservation. It is not good enough to select the most representative of what is happening today. We need a very thorough examination of the totality of all people who have elected to put money into this venture.
Why do we age?
by Douglas Skrecky
Why do rodents grow old and die after about 3 years, while humans can live for over a century? Why do we age at all? In order to answer these questions we shall first have to explain why calorie restriction retards the rate of aging in the first place. Research on the causes of aging resembles how the light bulb was first invented. Thomas Edison built an experimental bulb, tested it, found that it didn't work, discarded it, then built another using different materials and repeated the process -and repeated the process -until he found something that worked. Ideas that have been disproved by recent research include:
Wrong idea number 1:
Calorie restriction slows aging by retarding growth and development. This was a reasonable explanation until lifespan increases were observed in animals restricted only in adulthood.
Wrong idea number 2:
Calorie restriction slows aging by reducing body fat content. In one ingenious experiment calorie restricted obese mutant mice were found to live much longer than fully fed normal mice despite remaining rather plump.1
Wrong idea number 3:
Calorie restriction slows aging by decreasing metabolic rate. This is a common sense idea. Bodies are basically food processing machines. If the rate of such "processing" slows down it seems reasonable to suppose that the system might last a little longer. This makes a lot of sense, but is still nonetheless dead wrong. Increasing the metabolic rate by gradually exposing rats to a cold environment actually improves their longevity slightly.2
Wrong idea number 4:
The fact that glucose can damage body proteins has given rise to the glucose theory of aging. However recent careful measurements of glucose induced damage show that there is in fact no increase with age.3
Wrong idea number 5:
Calorie restriction slows aging by preventing damage to molecules of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) found in the cell nucleus. This theory also appears to be incorrect as measurements of DNA damage in mice have failed to find any effect of either age or diet.4
Wrong idea number 6:
Calorie restriction retards aging by slowing cellular division. When cultured in the test tube skin cells can undergo only a finite number of divisions called the Hayflick limit. This process has been called cellular senescence and is now known to be due to a progressive block of c-fos gene transcription.5 A recent study found that although there is a decrease in the division capacity of cultured skin cells obtained from aging mice during young adulthood, there are no further decrements observed after middle age.6
Another theory bites the dust.
These are a few of the ideas that have been tested and found wanting. However some recent research has apparently laid bare the basic aging mechanisms and it appears that anti-aging therapies substantially more effective than calorie restriction are available now. These we shall examine next time.
1 Effects of Food Restriction on Aging: Separation of Food Intake and Adiposity 1835-1838 Vol.81 1984 Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA
2 Longevity of Cold-Exposed Rats: A Reevaluation of the Rate-of-Living Theory 1656-1660 Vol.61 1986 Journal of Applied Physiology
3 Nonenzymatic Glycosylation of Protein Does Not Increase With Age in Normal Human Lenses B18-B23 Vol.45 No.1 1990 Journal of Gerontology
4 Lack of Effect of Age and Dietary Restriction on DNA Single-Stranded Breaks in Brain, Liver and Kidney of (C3H*C57BL/10)F1 Mice B78-B80 Vol.46 No.2 1991 Journal of Gerontology
5 Repression of c-fos Transcription and an Altered Genetic Program in Senescent Human Fibroblasts 205-209 Vol.247 1990 Science
6 Longitudinal Study of in Vivo Wound Repair and in Vitro Cellular Senescence of Dermal Fibroblasts 17-27 Vol.26 1991 Experimental Gerontology
By Douglas Skrecky
Recently the cause of aging has been discovered by medical researchers. It has turned out to be quite simple. In an experiment at North Dakota State University 19 month old aged mice were given injections of either growth hormone or saline twice a week. After 13 weeks of treatment 39% of the saline treated mice were still alive. This is normal. Of the growth hormone treated mice 93% were still alive after 13 weeks. This is not normal at all. The injections were then stopped for 6 weeks. During this period all of the remaining saline treated mice died of old age while only 1 out of 20 mice that had received growth hormone expired. The researchers then reinstituted growth hormone injections in the remaining 19 animals for a further 6 weeks. At the end of the experiment 18 mice were still alive.1 And so with little fanfare the major cause of age associated mortality was discovered. Experiments with aged humans have confirmed that the administration of growth hormone brings about signs of rejuvenation such as reduction of adipose tissue, as well increases in growth hormone-insulin-like growth factor 1, muscle mass, bone density and skin thickness. 2 The major project left in the field of aging is to discover why growth hormone secretion is suppressed with increasing age.
The free radical theory of aging states that aging is caused by accumulating tissue damage caused by oxygen derived free radicals. This theory has enjoyed considerable favour among research scientists. So much so that it has been endlessly tested by treating animals various antioxidants. Do antioxidants extend adult lifespan in actual experiments? Vitamin C does not work.3 Vitamin E does not work.4 Beta carotene does not work.5 BHT and BHA do not work6 Ethoxyquin and 2-Mercaptoethylamine do not work.7 Superoxide dismutase does not work.8 It appears that the free radical damage theory of aging must be false. Or is it?..........
There exist a number of free radicals. With the exception of beta carotene all of the above antioxidants scavenge mainly the superoxide free radical. Experiments have found in general that not only do large doses of superoxide scavengers fail to decrease tissue damage, but that they can in some cases even increase it.9 As the body already possesses a considerable defence against superoxide it is perhaps not surprising that adding extra "antioxidants" has no beneficial effect. Since superoxide scavengers are not protective, their failure is not in conflict with the free radical damage theory of aging. Indeed this theory would predict their FAILURE since they are not protective. What does cause the tissue damage which occurs with age?
Cellular metabolism is regulated by structures called mitochondria. As a byproduct of such activity large amounts of hydrogen peroxide, plus a smaller amount of superoxide is produced. These initiate free radical damage in mitochondria by stimulating molecular cross linking in membrane proteins. Although superoxide scavengers impede the formation of malonaldehyde based crosslinks, they unfortunately also stimulate disulphide based crosslinks. Peroxide scavengers by comparison impede both types of crosslinks. 10 It is hydrogen peroxide rather than superoxide that is responsible for the initiation of the majority of free radical induced tissue damage.
Neither superoxide nor hydrogen peroxide are particularly damaging in themselves, but in the presence of "free" nonferritin bound iron they initiate the Fenton reaction which then yields more destructive hydroxyl radicals. One would thus expect that agents which either bind free iron or scavenge hydroxyl radicals should be able to can block virtually all free radical induced damage. Experiments have found this in general to be the case. One of the few exceptions to this rule is the hydroxyl scavenger DMSO which has been found to be not protective.11 Since DMSO generates destructive methoxy radicals this is not surprising.12
If free radical induced tissue damage is responsible for aging one might expect that longer lived animals would possess greater defences against hydrogen peroxide. They do not.13 Instead the mitochondria of long lived animals generate considerably less hydrogen peroxide in the first place.14 Thus there does exist a robust link between free radical induced tissue damage and aging. Furthermore as animals age the crosslinking damage to mitochondrial membranes itself increases the generation of free radicals in a feedback loop so that the rate of deterioration itself increases with age.15 This may be why animals deteriorate faster as they age. Can the rate of deterioration be altered? Could aging be slowed, stopped or even reversed?
All of the available experimental research supports the notion that decreasing damage due to free radicals slows aging. For instance: Some hydrogen peroxide is produced by MAO-B enzymes. Inhibiting mitochondrial MAO-B with deprenyl increases the maximum lifespan of adult rats from 164 to 226 weeks, and to 239 weeks when given with the chinese herb din lang.16, 17, However when given to already old rats there is only a modest increase.18 Lowering body temperature slows the generation of free radicals in cold blooded animals. By reducing body temperature average survival of flies increases from 25 to 152 days.19 Coenzyme Q10 inhibits mitochondrial deterioration and it comes as little surprise that it also extends the remaining maximum lifespan of old mice from 36 to 86 weeks.20, 21
This all leads to a prediction. Ebselen, 21-aminosteroid U74006F, dimethylthiourea, l-propionyl-carnitine and N-tert-butyl-alpha-phenyl-nitrone (PBN) are all agents which are highly effective in reducing tissue damage.22, 23, 24, 25, 26 One or more of these substances should be able to halt or even reverse the process of aging, particularly if protease mediated repair processes are also restored to youthful levels. Proteinase K for example can eliminate the age induced crosslinks which occur in mitochondrial DNA27 A preliminary test of PBN on aged rats has shown that administration of this free radical spin trap reverses all signs of brain deterioration and restores brain proteases to youthful levels.28 Long term PBN administration should therefore eliminate our postulated cause of aging and grant an indefinite lifespan to treated animals.
Our remote ancestors were not concerned about growing old. Death usually occurred at a young age due to violent causes. Long ago the diseases of old age such as cancer or cardiovascular disease were rarely used by the grim reaper. Currently we have the opportunity or even privilege to die of these diseases because our medical technology and culture has advanced to the point where we can actually live long enough to die of "old age". Given today's rapidly advancing medical technology what is the future likely to hold?
It is entirely possible that in the not too distant future our descendants will die primarily of violent causes, just as our ancestors often did. Our ancestors died early in life and so did not have the opportunity to live long enough to die of old age. In contrast our descendants will not age at all but instead will expire mostly of transportation related accidents. The disease of aging is a tougher nut to crack than infectious diseases, but will be just as amenable to preventative treatment when its causes are fully understood.
Whether we are included with our descendants may depend on how soon agents such as PBN are tested in short lived animals. Although rodents have been used in most aging research, it makes little economic sense to use rodents when much shorter lived creatures such as flies can be used to prove or disprove most theories of aging. Only after flies are "immortalized" should any effort be made to duplicate this result on longer lived animals such as mice .... or men.
1 Effects of Long-Term Low-Dose Growth Hormone Therapy on Immune Function and Life Expectancy of Mice 87-100 Vol. 57, 1991 Mechanism of Ageing and Development
2 Effects of Human Growth Hormone in Men Over 60 Years Old 1-6 Vol.323 No.1 1990 The New England Journal of Medicine
3 Ascorbic Acid in Drosophila and changes During Aging 487-494 Vol.26 1991 Experimental Gerontology
4 Effect of Vitamin E on Lifespan and Reproduction in Caenorhabditis Elegans 71-78 Vol.43 1988 Mechanisms of Aging and Development
5 Effect of Dietary B-carotene on the Survival of Young and Old Mice 189-195 Vol.32 1986 Gerontology
6 Toxicity Studies of Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene II. Chronic Feeding Studies 799-806 Vol.28 No.12 1990 Food and Chemical Toxicology
7 Dietary Restriction Alone and in Combination With Oral Ethoxyquin/2-Mercaptoethylamine in Mice B141-B147 Vol.45 No.5 1990 Journal of Gerontology
8 Over expression of Cu-Zn Superoxide Dismutase in Drosophila does not Affect Life-span 4270-4274 Vol.87 1990 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA
9 The Cardioprotective Effect of Mn-Superoxide Dismutase is lost at High Doses in the Postischemic Isolated Rabbit Heart 473-478 Vol.9 1990 Free Radical Biology & Medicine
10 Xanthine Oxidase-Catalyzed Crosslinking of Cell Membrane Proteins 639-653 Vol.251 No.2 1986 Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
11 Xanthine Oxidase-induced Injury to Endothelium: Role of Intracellular Iron and Hydroxyl Radical H1640 -H1646 Vol.257 American Journal of Physiology
12 Direct Evidence for in Vivo Hydroxyl-radical Generation in Experimental Iron Overload: An ESR Spin-trapping Investigation 8440-8444 Vol.88 1991 Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA
13 Relationship Between Antioxidant Defences and Longevity in Different Mammalian Species 217-227 Vol.53 1990 Mechanisms of Ageing and Development
14 Hydrogen Peroxide Production by Liver Mitochondria in Different Species 209-215 Vol.53 1990 Mechanisms of Ageing and Development
15 Hydrogen Peroxide Release by Mitochondria Increases During Aging 187-202 Vol.57 1991 Mechanisms of Ageing and Development
16 Striatal Dopamine, Sexual Activity and Lifespan Longevity of Rats Treated With (-)Deprenyl 525-531 Vol.45 1989 Life Sciences
17 The Effect of Dinh Lang and (-)Deprenyl on the Survival Rate of Male Rats 301-302 Vol.75 Supplementum 1990 Acta Physiologica Hungarica
18 Maintenance on (-)Deprenyl Prolongs Life in Aged Male Rats 415-420 Vol.47 No.5 1990 Life Sciences
19 Mitochondrial DNA and Life Span Changes in Normal and Dewinged Drosophila at Different Temperatures 139-153 Vol.22 1987 Experimental Gerontology
20 Inhibition by Coenzyme Q of Ethanol and Carbon Tetrachloride-Stimulated Lipid Peroxidation in Vivo and Catalyzed by Microsomal and Mitochondrial Systems 297-303 Vol.5 1988 Free Radical Biology and Medicine
21 185-189 from The Miracle Nutrient Coenzyme Q10 by Emile G. Bliznakov M.D. (available from Longevity Books.)
22 Oxidative Damage to Mitochondria and Protection by Ebselen and Other Antioxidants 1623--1629 Vol.40 No.7 1990 Biochemical Pharmacology
23 Pretreatment With U74006F Improves Neurologic Outcome Following Complete Cerebral Ischemia in Dogs 902-909 Vol.22 1991 Stroke
24 Reduction of Canine Myocardial Infarct Size by a Diffusible Reactive Oxygen Metabolite Scavenger 1652-1659 Vol.68 1991 Circulation Research
25 Free Radical Scavenging is Involved in the Protective Effect of L-Propionyl-carnitine Against Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury of the Heart 533-537 Vol.288 No.2 1991 Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
26 Protective Effect of a New Anti-Oxidant on the Rat Brain Exposed to Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury: Inhibition of Free Radical Formation and Lipid Peroxidation 385-391 Vol.11 1991 Free Radical Biology & Medicine
27 Changes in the Rat Liver Mitochondrial DNA Upon Aging 275-284 Vol.60 1991 Mechanisms of Ageing and Development
28 Reversal of Age-related Increase in Brain Protein Oxidation, Decrease in Enzyme Activity, and Loss in Temporal and Spacial Memory by Chronic Administration of the Spin-trapping Compound N-tert-butyl-alpha-phenylnitrone" 3633-3636 Vol.88 1991 Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA
by Yvan Bozzonetti
Needless to say, all what follows is a personal view. To put someone in a state of cryonic suspension is not interesting if we cannot get him back to life. The answer is nanotechnology, may be... Unfortunately, that sounds to me as no more than a religious faith. When nanotechnology enters the science or technological domain, it is seen as a natural development of current electronics microtechnology: It deals mostly with two dimensional lithography on a hard substrate to form electronics devices. On the other hand, biotechnology works with three dimensional systems. We see clearly the boundary between the two domains in the current nanotechnology programme established by Japan. Only electronics firms are interested, no biological work is included.
On the other side, biotechnology seems to travel in the opposite direction, from the simple to the largest and more complex. Longevity solutions give a good example: At start was the Philosopher's Stone, namely the arsenic trisulfur called orpiment, this is a volcanic deposit well known from amateur geologist groups. That four atom molecule may have been the first product used against syphilis. Next came the vitamins. The vitamin C molecule contains 20 atoms, a typical order of magnitude for this kind of product. Now, we enter the next step with proteins: growth hormone and some similar products. The following technology may use very large molecular complexes: Cytochrome for energy transport in the cell and mitochondria, heat shock proteins assembly for reshaping cross-linked proteins and so on... There is no more room in a cell to include more larger systems. Unfortunately, we need them to fulfil the cryonics' task.
Let me define my recipe for ending the cryonics state. It owes very little to nanotechnology or biology: it looks more like physics and big technology.
First, we need to know what to do, that is, we need to know what to repair and where. Two technologies may produce a molecular map:
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging: it works well in liquid media at room temperature. It is slow, a map may ask for one hour or more to complete. Needless to say, chemical reactions cannot wait that long! NMR prospects look good for brain uploading of living being, because it is not destructive. It looks good too for chemically preserved brains and freeze-dried subjects wetted with a liquid preservative just before reading. The primary incentive for that way, stems from the current technological level: we may develop it right now, all the difficulties reduce with a powerful magnetic field without too much inhomogeneities. I have uncovered the right people to correct two dimensional pictures smeared by bad quality magnetic fields. To go to 3-d is merely a computational power problem. The first neural system on a computer may be no more than three or four years from now. Well, this "brain" may be only a small neuron assembly from a Petri dish. Ten more years may be needed before large computers become cost effective for powerful brain experiments. That research is now underway, technical comments are welcome.
The second way looks best, unfortunately, this is only my idea and I know of no work in that domain, this is a "paper-made technology" at the time. Not for long I hope. I suggest using X-ray holography to map the body at molecular level. With "ordinary" X-rays, the energy deposited in cells does more damage and the information recovering process destroys the subject, or at least its preceding chemical state. This is another uploading technology, no more. It works well with freeze-dried or frozen bodies, not with living brains. Its technology seems interesting because there are hopes for the future. The worst problem with X-rays is in the optical system. Up to now, only very low incidence mirrors were in use. Now, Fresnel graphite lenses open a new domain: they can focus X-rays at some tens of meters. A Fresnel's lens is made of many concentric circular grooves etched in a tin glass or plastic foil. In the X-ray domain, the etching process needs a nanometre scale quality. This is the only nanotechnology requirement. Note than that nanotechnology is well within the electronics industry perspective. It may be in the reach of some laboratories today.
Given a powerful computer and the X-rays holographic system, what can we do? In a first step, this produces in a millionth of a second a complete map of a brain, all we need to upload it on a computer-like system. Some people ask: "Are you an uploader?" and "Are you a communist?" in nearly the same breath. Strangely, the same people speak about indefinite longevity. Even without ageing, accidents limit life expectancy at some centuries (say 2000 years to be optimistic). This is far from eternity or even a geological time scale. Uploading on artificial medium becomes inescapable after 100 or 1000 years, the actual value is without interest here. At that level, only one thing counts: Cryonics recovery implies a cheap uploading technology as a byproduct.
The next step looks the same: a new analyzing tool is built. It exploits the same X-ray optical system, the same computer and produces the same holographic map as before. Simply, X-rays give the way to squeezed state radiations. This needs some words of explanation: Electromagnetic radiations, radio-waves, light, X-rays or other, cannot "see" objects smaller than one wavelength. Small objects such atoms or molecules need short wavelengths, a property linked to high energy, and so destructive radiations as X-rays. All of that is rooted in quantum mechanics. In the void of space there is not much to say. On the other side, in material medium, radiation propagation looks more subtle.
We can think of electromagnetic radiations as a rotating electric field (an arrow confined in a plane perpendicular to the moving radiation). The wavelength is simply the length travelled by the radiation in the time it takes to the arrow to complete a full rotation. Now, here are two possibilities for the arrow: a left or a right turn. Both are possible. They are called respectively left and right circularly polarised light (This holds for any electromagnetic radiations, from radio, up to X and gamma rays). More strangely, most photons, the particles associated with electromagnetism, turn at the same time to the left and right! They are a mix from the left and the right species. The quantum law applies on the full photon. So we can "build" photons with reduced uncertainty on the left rotation if we allow a corresponding larger uncertainty on the right part.1 This is the squeezed state. Takes a one micron wavelength photon: you may, with appropriate non linear medium, get a left part behaving as a .1 micron photon if you allow the right component to be blurred as a ten micron photon.
The benefit looks simple: the squeezed photon allows to see elements as small as .1 micron without having the ionising effect of a true .1 micron photon. Up to now, squeezed factor from five to ten have been created,1 this is short by a factor of 1000 of what we need to read biological molecules without ionising effect. Well, I have my own idea on the best way to get the required radiation, physics is one of my hobbies. Whatever the solution, it may be not too far away.
Now, a hologram can be made of a frozen body at the molecular level without damage to find out what the problems are. The damage accumulated in the solid storage period is the simplest to work with: all molecular elements rest in near contact and a simple input of energy at the right place may suffice in most cases. A computer calculated hologram is sent in the body with an energy level near zero everywhere except at some very localised place where atoms or molecules need it. For each kind of reaction there is a specific energy requirement and so a particular hologram may be made with the right photons.
This is not sci-fi, I am on a starting project with people implied in such works on computer generated holograms.
Next comes thawing, the hardest part of the work. At this level, we know what is wrong and where. Ultrasound may be exploited to get a differential heating effect. We need a new a kind of computerized hologram to get the energy where it is needed.
The first objective it to open the way to a new fluid flow, water and glycerol (if present) are pumped out. Chlorofluorocarbon, loaded with heat shock proteins and adenosine triphosphate take the place.
Diphtheric toxin looks useful at this level, it contains two parts: A poisonous protein acting in the cell but without the capacity to enter there, and a second, non toxic protein with the ability to enter the cell. It carries with it the toxic element. Heat shock proteins are able to restore the active shape of a cross-linked or deteriorated protein. They need, to be effective, to enter the cell. The transport element of the diphtheric toxin may be used to achieve that objective.
Heat shock proteins are the basic building-block of any cell reparation mechanism. We need no more to speak loosely about undefined nanotechnology: We now know what are the machines we need. We can find them in stressed bacteria, extremely tolerant organisms in hot sources or nuclear reactors. We can produce the required products as beer or antibiotics, in the ton range if needed. Any philosophical exchange on the theoretical possibility of cell repair is as out of date as the sex of angels subject. The real matter is to find (or establish) a biotechnology corporation interested in the new product development.
If that component can be added right before freezing, it will be a great progress. Diphtheric protein penetrator is a research product extracted today in small quantity. Given a market growth, it will be produced in larger batches.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the universal energy currency of nearly every chemical reaction in the cells. The work of heat shock complex is not an exception, it needs that form of chemical energy.
Glucose sugar is a well known cryoprotectant, a part of its activity stems from its precursor nature of ATP molecule: After freezing, a cell needs a lot of energy to recover, reshape or rebuild proteins. A large package of chemical energy, ready to use, may be very useful if mitochondria cannot produce ATP at the required level.
Whatever the conservation process, I think preparation must include antioxidant agents, heat shock proteins complex with molecular penetrators, and a large supply of ATP and glucose. We can add cythocrome molecular complexes with penetrators for energy transport inside mitochondria at the list.
I have said nothing about DNA protection, membrane softeners, tubulin preservative and cytoskeleton relaxants. Well, the subject is not closed. I hope someone will takes all these factors into account to experiment with really modern cryonics methods.
1. How do you do this?
Glittering at Night with a Million Lights
by Bob Brakeman
When the Huxley brothers got together in the years following World War Two, it was usually in Hollywood.
Author Aldous Huxley had done the same thing as most of the other 20 million people now living in Southern California; he'd taken one look at the ocean mountain canyon desert grandeur of the place and immediately took up permanent residence.1 Although his brother Julian never actually moved to Los Angeles himself, he did enjoy visiting, and when those reunions happened they constituted reunions of of what has to be the most pro-life family in British history.
Thomas Huxley never made it to those family reunions in the Hollywood Hills in the 1950s; he was dead, which always makes travelling difficult. When alive he was the most hated man in England; that sounds bad, but since he was hated by the most sociopathic/ignorant people in the country, he correctly took it as a badge of honour.
Huxley made his pro-life contribution to world history by being the principal interpreter of Darwin to the masses. When Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace co-discovered the laws of evolution in the late 1850s,2 neither of them leaped into the public fray when those laws were attacked by the usual coalition of religious/irrationalist forces. Darwin was much too shy, and Wallace had other scientific researches to conduct.
So it was left to Thomas Huxley to
A systematically explain the nature and meaning of evolution by natural selection to the rational segments of the public and
B attack and answer the objections of the irrational segments.
That he did for the next four decades,3 earning the respect of people who matter and the enmity of people who don't.
The reason Huxley could get away with chastising the heathen for 40 years (the heathen in this case being the Church of England hierarchy and similar intellectual children) was that his own British Establishment credentials were so strong.4 He received his scientific training at the prestigious Charing Cross8 Hospital, graduating in 1845; then he established himself as a leading biological researcher, widely respected throughout his profession. He gave up his own research career to propagandize for evolution through natural selection, and in so doing he made a key contribution to immortalism a century before there was an immortalist movement.
That contribution consisted of changing the way people thought about life itself. The Darwin/Wallace/Huxley position was that the beginning and development of human and other animal life was to be understood as a purely physiological process, without reference to any supernatural (religious) explanations. Evolutionary laws explained how humans came to exist, and there was no need to invent a supernatural creator. This worldview (the worldview which says human life is governed by the same chemical/physical laws as everything else in the cosmos) is crucial to immortalism, because immortalism cannot succeed until most people see that the fate of humans is just as clearly governed by purely-physical laws as is its origin: If people want to live on in the future, it will have to be through preserving their physical selves using physical techniques, not through hoping for supernatural intervention (heaven). Just as people could not begin to think sensibly about humanity's past until they started to analyze that past in purely physical (not supernatural) terms, so they cannot think sensibly about an individual human's future until they begin to think in the same purely physical/chemical terms. Because (among the rational classes at least) Thomas Huxley won his battle to get people to analyze humans in only physiological terms, his writings (widely available today) provide an excellent underpinning for immortalists, as we try to get people to analyze their own ultimate fate in those same purely physiological terms - and try to get them to therefore ensure the continued survival of their physiological selves, the only selves they have.
Thomas Huxley's grandsons were the two enthusiasts who periodically got together high in the Hollywood Hills - Aldous Huxley and Julian Huxley. Aldous's contribution to immortalist thinking came in 1938, when he published a cult novel, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. That book has been analyzed elsewhere at length by the present author,5 and here it's enough to say that key characters in it give wonderful speeches containing excellent reasons for pursuing physical immortality. The speeches are so perfectly written that they could be put into a promotional brochure for any one of the life-extension organisations without changing a line. The book was quite well known in the 1940s, and it had many well known fans from the literary world. Among them was English critic Cyril Connolly, famous as the principal critic for the New Statesman and as the founding editor of an influential literary magazine, Horizon. Connolly loved this immortalist saga so much that he began to demand that it be made into a film. Although that never happened, another well known fan of After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, Ralph Bass, produced a well received stage adaptation. The immortalist speeches in the book/play were what always received the most attention, among both critics and the public, and for that Aldous Huxley deserves to be well thought of by people in the worldwide life extension movement.
So does his brother Julian. The man who visited his younger brother Aldous in the canyons of Los Angeles' Santa Monica Mountains was one of the most famous biologists of his time, and head of the Zoological Society of London, and Director General of UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) among other prestigious positions. His pro-life positions were pushed as part of his work with UNESCO, where he was interested in a combination of the "E" & the "S" - he fought to have the educational institutions of the UN's member countries study human life in purely scientific terms, which meant that he fought against the teaching of mysticism in educational institutions, Julian Huxley was also a gifted prose writer, and a rare scientist - one who could write best-sellers: Animal Behaviour (1927) and Scientific Research and Social Needs (1934) and We Europeans (1936) and The Living Thoughts of Darwin (1939) and Man in the Modern World(1947) and Heredity East and West (1945) all did better than such scholarly works usually do. That was good for his bank account, but more important for our purposes here is that in all those books and many others6 he emphasized just the point made famous by his grandfather Thomas: That humans are purely physical organisms who should be analyzed by using purely physical laws and techniques. Because the eventual triumph of immortalism will require the prior triumph of that intellectual worldview, we should think just as kindly of Julian Huxley as we do his grandfather.
Thomas and Aldous and Julian Huxley are all obviously among the Good Guys, but the world is not made up of only guys. As a semi crazed Los Angeles Nationalist/Chauvinist/Jingoist,7, my personal favourite among the Huxleys was Julian's wife Juliette. When she would accompany Julian on his Hollywood visits to Aldous, she would always be staggered by the most dramatic urban views anywhere in the world. She loved the daytime views of the canyons and the desert and the ocean and the mountains, but the nighttime views made her nearly speechless. Fortunately she found enough words to write this, to the English folks back home: "My eyes seem to tear with joy each time I see the panorama spread below our mountaintop vantage point ... The view is incredibly lovely, over the whole Los Angeles plain, glittering at night with a million lights". Anyone who can write those words and appreciate those things is someone who definitely ought to be allowed to hang around the house; and of course she's just the kind of person we'd expect to find hanging around as good a group as the Huxley Boys.
l Aldous lived in the canyons of what the public calls the Hollywood Hills; they're actually just a section of the Santa Monica Mountains, which run from near-downtown Los Angeles all the way to the Ocean at Malibu (that in fact is a perfect definition of Malibu - it's where the Santa Monica Mountains meet the Pacific.)
2 Darwin had been sitting on a preliminary version of his own evolutionary theory when suddenly Wallace, who had arrived at the same views independently, popped up and announced that he was about to publish. The logical solution was a joint publication by the two men, and that's what was done. Because Darwin's view of evolution was much more detailed, and also more eloquently phrased, he became the more famous of the two co-discoverers of evolution.
3 lt understates Thomas Huxley's role in the triumph (among the educated classes) of evolutionary theory to say that he merely explained it to the public. Through creative analogies and the use of little known examples and case histories, Huxley actually added to the theory, in addition to expounding it.
4 The British Establishment of the 1800s dealt more summarily with opponents with less exalted credentials - but there's no room here to discuss hanged Irishmen and machine gunned Boers.
5 The article in which we analyzed After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, has the same name as the book (hard to improve upon a sadly majestic title like that one); it was published in various immortalist and general publications in the early 1990s, including Longevity Report 25.
6 Julian Huxley also edited his grandfather's account of a famous sea voyage: Thomas Huxley's Diary Of The Voyage of the HMS Rattlesnake (1935).
7 l may be a Hollywood/Los Angeles fanatic - but unlike other fanatics I can prove I'm right. Sort of. My proof that Southern California constitutes a wonderful and pure and (might as well say it) Holy place comes in two parts:
(A) What could be purer and holier and more wonderful than a city whose full name is The City Of Our Lady The Queen Of The Angels? and
(B) The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (the weather bureau) reports that the town in the world which most resembles Los Angeles in its climate is: Bethlehem.
8 Obviously a wonderful and pure part of London, for it gave its name to the LA street where the Playboy Mansion is located.
Bob Brakeman, the author of more than 2000 articles on Immortalism and Public Affairs, resides in Malibu, California.
By Brian W. Haines
It seems a girl is not safe now even when lying on the slab. But it is interesting to think of all the speculative possibilities that remain to be tried before declaring anyone dead.
In case there should be an accusation of undue levity let us first dismiss the idea that death is such a tragic event. For the forward looking the current standards of death are wrong. No one is going to waste money upon preserving a body unless they believe death does not exist. For death to be reversible it means it is nothing more than a term applied to a particular condition for which at present there is no known cure.
But here we have evidence of a cure. The real question is ought mortuary attendants endeavour to practice the art of resurrection upon every body in their care. For those who may think this particular form of treatment requires some very dedicated attendants, we should not forget intercourse with the (apparent) dead is blessed with the term of necrophilia which shows it is not so uncommon as many may suppose.
So far when people have been brought before the Courts none have pleaded medical treatment as a defence. Possibly this may now be advanced. If the report is true, and it was published in the Daily Telegraph of all papers, it does mean there could be numerous people who have been pushed in the oven while still alive. Now which is the more preferable, burning alive, or intercourse with bodies on the slab?
It is rather odd society finds such activity so repugnant. What harm is actually being done if the body is really and truly lifeless? If on the other hand if there is a residual belief people are not really dead, then surely anything that might bring them back to life should be tried.
If it were your daughter who had been brought back to life, how would you feel, would you react in the same way as the parents, or would you insist upon charges being brought? If your daughter were on the slab would you consent to the mortician taking the body home to bed on the off chance she would be stirred back to life?
There is another side to this report that must be considered. Firstly this is reputed to have happened in Romania. How many people remember the work of Professor Ana Aslan and her treatments with the drug GH3 as a preventive treatment for old age? Did she herself die of the effects of old age? At one time people flocked to Rumania to seek the fountain of youth. Is this another attempt to put the Country back on the map?
Secondly and perhaps more importantly the report reads almost word for work of a similar report going back to the 16th century. In that case it was a monk who acted as the instrument, and there have been a number of identical cases reported since. The suspicion is aroused it is a bit of folk mythology that surfaces from time to time and reported as fact. The Daily Telegraph in this instance behaving like the Sunday Sport.
On the other hand all reports, however far fetched contain a germ of truth. Something gives rise to the story. People have been known to be declared dead who have risen again quite spontaneously. It does show it can not be taken for granted death is final. What can be stated with absolute certitude is that while there is a body in good condition there is always a chance it will revive. If you destroy it, then the chance has gone for good.
Well now, do I want to meet a rather bizarre mortuary attendant when my turn comes? And what sort of greeting shall I give if he brings me back to the land of the living. I feel I would be terrible embarrassed; "thank you" seems so inappropriate somehow.
Life is truly what you make it.
[Editorial introduction - this article is included to help us understand what many people probably think about immortalism and cryonics. Although logically it has many holes, I am grateful to Mrs McNulty for sharing her thoughts with us, and giving us an insight into some of the undercurrents behind the appalling treatment levied on some cryonicists by the authorities.]
God is love1. Love for ourselves and our fellow man. It appears that our variety in our God-given abilities, eg doctors, lawyers2, artists etc, is as varied as nature itself.
Suppose we ask if cryonics is against God and morals! Each of us would have to ask "Is it hurting someone? Will it hurt ourselves?" This is searching our conscience, so selfishness does not blind us to the truth.
The truth would resolve most issues. However, taking a full view of the Earth and its many problems, suppose we view God as a "seeing Eye", looking at starvation, AIDS, illnesses with no cure, (eg some cancers, some severe crippling of children), lack of money to finance help in so many diseases which cause such crippling of minds and limbs, and our environment threatened by a lack of a solution to the problem of the ozone layer.
Would God as love, as a seeing eye, find a balance, a healthy balance, to say to science "Cryonics is good", spend money on research in this area? (ie to preserve the lives of individuals who are financially able to pay.3)
Remembering we have defined God as love, divine love, as perhaps a father who wants the best for his children4. Suppose we define God as one intelligent father, and all humans now on Earth his children, would this loving father see all the horror and suffering in the world, and make a decision to select a few for the privilege of being suspended, for a second chance at life?5 Or would he being a loving father say that we must be fair and give everyone present on Earth enough food to live on.6 Would he want to look at all human beings as his children who he loves, and could he then sit back and say "All is well, all is just, all is fair."
Suppose he said "I have a appointed all my children a task, to fulfil the needs of humanity, some lawyers, artists, musicians, builders, M.P.s, surgeons, all can assist each other, for the good of each other, to create a balance.7
All things in balance, now is the time to try and "go a further mile", use our creative resources. Perhaps now is the time for cryonic suspension.8
Now here is a moral dilemma: it started with humanity, - "greed". Can we overcome it!
1. This statement needs explanation. One may just as well say that God is a banana. Personally I favour a more logical definition. "The whole of everything" is a good one.
2. If God is the whole of everything, then what lawyers (or anyone else) does is by definition God's will. Therefore the concept of God is really like the imaginary point of perspective in a drawing: if there was an intelligent creator of the universe, then his character can be extrapolated by examining the universe and working backwards to its start.
3. If individuals chose to use their own money to pay for cryonics as opposed to pubbing, lung smoking, sunbathing holidays overseas or whatever other more conventional activity pleases them, which shouldn't they? Pro death people argue that funds spent on cryonic suspension should be recycled back into society via the legal profession's probate system, when presumably they would be spent in this manner. If people should be denied cryonics to "help the poor" then why shouldn't smokers and holidaymakers be denied their activity for the same purpose? If everyone in the developed world gave up their luxury spending and donated the money to the poor nations, then poverty would disappear as soon as the project could be organised. (Which unfortunately would be never as the money would only flow into the coffers of politicians and lawyers!)
4. If God is a father who wants the best for his children, why did he require that his son be tortured to death to propitiate for the sins of the world?
5. God isn't doing the selecting, the people concerned are selecting it for themselves.
6. He doesn't do this now, anyway.
7. Are we therefore to assume that the lawyers who are profiting at the expense of Dr Donaldson, a cancer sufferer, preventing him from getting the only procedure that will save his life (cryonic suspension), are demonstrating God's will. Should this God be praised or cursed?
8. I am not sure how this paragraph follows from the previous ideas: certainly it is time for cryonics, because we have discovered the idea and have the technology through the three cryonics organisations to put it into practise.
from Mrs Marie McNulty
Some suggested reading re cancer:
Title: Killing Cancer. Author: Benjamin Robert Smythe
This is the story of a terminal cancer. The patient who was given three months to live travelled in search of a cure. He no has total remission. He shares his experience in this book. A herbal remedy cured his cancer.
Price: £3.95. Publisher:Thorsons
(Obtain from Thorsons by Post, Dennington Estate, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 2RQ)
I am sorry that Dr Thomas Donaldson has brain cancer and I sincerely hope that he will recover and live a healthy lifespan. perhaps a cure is in the offing. However I pray for his recovery so he can live a useful life, and so help others to live a healthy life. Also I sincerely believe that the essay I have written will shed some light on why he can't be put into cryonic suspension at this time.
The judge who made this decision is more than likely a believer in God, and is God-motivated.
From Mrs Joy Cass
I have read Longevity Report with interest and also deeply. Certainly there was no skimming along the pages, and although I could not discuss them in an academic way, most of the projects seemed so very sincerely asserted. I am greatly interested in the minds that have produced such enthusiasm.
One thing, though, that came right over to me is the fact that in your work and the diagrams is great beauty. The beauty of the purity of truth, of fact.
Now when I tell you that I am a devout and sincere Christian, I imagine from you and your colleagues' experience of "that breed" (obviously not well thought of) you can hardly credit that I should give you an ear!
I do find in my long and enormously varied life that the people who tend to disdain Christianity are those who speak from ignorance and inexperience of it. Like everything else, of course, in the affairs of humanity we all see the same thing differently. But anyone who has had, as I did, an overnight conversion - a miracle in fact - it is such a startling episode and gives in itself such absolute peace - that come what may the belief banishes fret and fear.
I was interested when the April 1992 Longevity Report arrived in two statements, viz pages 6 and 10. In the first instance Mr Smith's letter (second paragraph) refers to Shaw and in the second (p10) Mr Whitrow's remarks in his third paragraph re "higher power". Now Shaw, as we all know, was not a practising Christian, but his play Saint Joan (its preface being the greatest in English Literature) shows how well he understood his saint. And the remarks he made later re life and peace (I heard the repeat on the radio a few weeks ago) were to the effect "I do not myself believe in Christianity, but it does seem if properly understood and practised to be a factor in saving the world from annihilation."
May I add here, in all humility, that because I am a confirmed Christian believer, I do also believe it to be entirely to my own benefit. (Page 10, para 3 first four lines.) In belief in the invisible, I find one sees with a deeper value and sense of "presence." All this, for me, cuts out fear and "lostness". Therefore each dawn brings a newness of life, and an eagerness to learn what is around the corner. I think that fun is one of God's greatest gifts to us. (Psalm 2 verse 4 in The Bible.)
I will, just in case you haven't one to hand (it must be the Authorised version) I will quote:
He that sitteth in the heaven shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Well, we all make mistakes don't we. Bit I have found that they have been of great advantage in teaching one. It is really only a sense of values that are needed for happiness - to each, his own. Incidentally I have leant one or two of your publications to friends. It will be fascinating to hear of the effect they have had!
Editorial Comment on last two letters
Publishing letters like these inevitably gives rise to correspondence on why such material appears in Longevity Report, which is supposed to be about science and logical thought and specifically their application to the problem of aging, suffering and death.
There are many forces in the world which wish to retain the status quo, and to communicate with people who may shed light on the thought processes involved, however illogical they may seem to us should be of help in how to deal with these opposing forces.
It is known that sudden religious conversions are due to a release of the natural hormone vasopressin. It is left up to the individual to decide whether this is "God's Instrument" or a simple natural phenomenum. Humans are very prone to accepting irrational ideas when they are hearing what they want to hear. If these irrational ideas are widely held people get comfort from the concept of "this must be true because so many people believe it." If something is printed in The Sunday Sport about the resurrection of the body of Elvis Presley people want to believe it and many accept it because it is in print. It is hardly surprising that stronger resurrection myths abound in history, Jesus being the most famous but by no means the only example.
Writing in Cryonics, (December 1985) Dr Thomas Donaldson reviewed The New Testament as if it was a new book. He found many things written about death to be in complete agreement with what cryonics people think. But of course in the time of the Roman Empire people did not have the knowledge to appreciate scientific advance (which would only become noticeable in nearly 1,900 years time) and the value of preserving remains for reanimation.
Many of the miracles performed by Jesus concerned raising the dead. He doesn't do this just once, comments Dr Donaldson. Lazarus is only the most famous example. Try The Gospel According to St Matthew, 9:23-35. Jesus bade others to raise the dead, claiming that only belief is required. In The Gospel According to St John 11.26 Jesus is quoted "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." Preceding this is a dialogue with a woman called Martha concerning the reanimation of Lazarus, in which Martha assumes he is talking about the resurrection on the "last day". Therefore Dr Donaldson concludes that Jesus is drawing a distinction between his idea of immortality of simply not dying as opposed to the standard religious interpretation of the time. He says that this concept is repeated in Revelations 20 and 21:1-4. He also quotes a friend who is a Christian who argues that Jesus was definitely NOT talking about spiritual resurrection in John 11.26.
Dr Donaldson remarks that there are three possible interpretations. Either the whole thing is fiction, the statements are meant to be allegorical, or the statements are to be taken literally.
If the third choice, literal interpretation is correct, then this means that on one has yet learned to "believe" Jesus in a proper manner to achieve physical immortality. It is worth noting here that Mr and Mrs Brown of Eternal Flame movement make similar claims: believe them fully and you will live for ever without ageing. In his reply to Martha Jesus specifically rejects the allegorical interpretation.
Therefore we are stuck with the two possibilities, ie
1. The whole thing is a load of bull, or
2. No one has learned how to believe Jesus over all these years.
Belief cannot consist of mindless repetitions, because this has been "tried" and shown to fail inasmuch as all those that do it die eventually. Prayers by others doesn't work, else the English monarch would live for centuries as a result of the National Anthem.
One thing The Bible does show, points out Dr Donaldson, is that even before the English language was invented, people were worried about dying and still sought immortality. The Bible tells us little about the means to use to achieve this end. Fasting and prayer are recommended, and I suppose that fasting links in with Dr Walford's Maximum Lifespan, but undernutrition without malnutrition only produces a few more years, not immortality.
Maybe the people today who are really doing what Jesus ordered are the cryonicists and life extensionists, who are using the material around them to eliminate death. In removing the brain, the Egyptian mummies will never be revived, but maybe Jesus should have told his followers to pickle "remains" for two or three thousand years, or bury them in Alpine glaciers. But as I said at the start of this item, the forward march of science was too slow to be noticeable at the time of Christ. Therefore the idea of freeze today and wait for science to catch up would have been impossible to contemplate then.
by Douglas Skrecky
Diabetes mellitus is a disease characterised by an increased concentration of glucose in the blood and urine which in turn are caused by abnormalities in insulin metabolism. Insulin is a hormone which acts to limit glucose concentrations and insulin injections have been used to treat diabetes. This disease is brought about by either an existing shortfall in bodily insulin production or resistance to its glucose lowering effects. An autoimmune disorder is believed to account for the destruction of insulin producing pancreatic B-cells which occurs in insulin dependant diabetes.1
The first line of treatment for this disease consists of dietary changes to lower weight, improve glycemic control and reduce insulin requirements. The standard fare that has been recommended is a low fat diet favouring complex carbohydrates from whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes. However recent research has shown that a high fat diet which partially replaces some complex carbohydrates with olive oil results in even lower insulin requirements!2 Uncooked food appears to be more desirable than cooked food.3 Large doses of guar gum on the order of 20 grams per day can also lower blood glucose levels.4
Although both dietary changes and supplemental insulin can help in the treatment of diabetes, neither offers a cure for this condition. Can diabetes be cured? Large doses of vitamin B3 in the form of nicotinamide have both prevented laboratory animals from becoming diabetic and induced remissions in human diabetics when 3 gram (but not 1 gram) daily doses are used.5 The benefits of nicotinamide treatment are believed to be due to restoration of normal levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide in pancreatic B-cells. However megadoses of this vitamin are not needed in order to obtain a benefit. A daily supplement combining 200 micrograms of chromium with just 100 milligrams of vitamin B3 in the form of niacin is quite effective in improving glucose tolerance and is a much easier and safer supplement to take. Neither chromium nor niacin are effective if taken alone.6
Long term diabetics tend to develop lesions in their nervous systems. This now appears to be reversible. The aldose reductase inhibitor sorbinil has been found to induce the regeneration of damaged nerves in patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy.7 Evening primrose oil and injections of vitamin B-12 also appear to ameliorate this condition.8,9
1 Pancreatic B-Cell Damage 24-28 Vol.11 Suppl.1 1988 Diabetes Care
2 Comparison of a High-Carbohydrate Diet With a High-Monosaturated-Fat Diet in Patients With Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus 829-834 Vol.319 1988 New England Journal of Medicine
3 The Effect of Various Thermal Processes on the Glycemic Response to Whole Grain Wheat Products in Humans and Rats 1631-1638 Vol.119 1989 Journal of Nutrition
4 Glucose and Lipid Metabolism and Insulin Sensitivity in Type 1 Diabetes: The Effect of Guar Gum 98-103 Vol.48 1988 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
5 Effect of Nicotinamide Therapy Upon B-cell Function in Newly Diagnosed Type 1 (Insulin-Dependent) Diabetic Patients 160-162 Vol.32 1989 Diabetologia
6 Evidence for Synergism Between Chromium and Nicotinic Acid in the Control of Glucose Tolerance in Elderly Humans 896-899 Vol.36 No.9 1987 Metabolism
7 Regeneration and Repair of Myelinated Fibers in Sural-Nerve Biopsy Specimens From Patients With Diabetic Neuropathy Treated With Sorbinil 548-555 Vol.319 1988 New England Journal of Medicine
8 Gamma-Linolenic Acid in Diabetic Neuropathy 1098 May 10 1986 The Lancet
9 Methylcobalamin Improves Nerve Conduction in Streptozotocin-Diabetic Rats Without Affecting Sorbitol and Myo-Inositol Contents of Sciatic Nerve' 717-718 Vol.20 1988 Horm. Metabol. Res.
by Chrissie Loveday
I was about thirty when it was suggested to me that I would benefit from a hysterectomy. There was nothing sinister in this and I was in good health otherwise, so I calmly agreed and promptly forgot my phone number, thus belying my calm exterior.
I now wonder at my own ingenuous acceptance of major surgery, with little or no thought of the disasters that seem to afflict a number of people nowadays. In those days I was something of a pillar of the Church and was given great attention by assorted vicars and other religious folk, to the extent that other members of the ward thought I must be extremely sick! There were no problems and I was quickly over the operation. Best of all, I was free of the usual monthly inconveniences. In fact it amazed me how quickly I forgot all about the monthly cycle, which normally plays so large a part in the lives of women.
I moved away from the medical practice which had served me well for some years and needed to sign on with a new doctor, who was recommended by the previous owners of my new house. I had no problem with being cared for by a male doctor and began to establish the new relationship. He asked about my medical history and seemed very nice and efficient. My second visit was similar to the first, very efficient and not unfriendly. The prescription pad was first and the certificate to sign me off work was second ... almost before I even spoke. I have to admit that I liked being treated as a human being of intelligence and was soon in the routine of almost self-prescribing.
About three years ago, I began to experience a series of symptoms which were quite inexplicable to me. Suddenly, I was unable to visit my doctor, didn't know what was wrong and couldn't suggest what I might need to help resolve the problems. Feeling rather guilty and disloyal, I arranged to see one of the female doctors. I explained my symptoms and felt rather foolish when she offered me a collection of leaflets to read, all about the menopause and the advantages and disadvantages of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). Yes, I had so forgotten about menstrual cycles that I had failed to connect the hot flushes, headaches and vaginal dryness with anything so simple as the menopause.
I have to say, I am a great enthusiast of HRT. The fact that my hysterectomy was not in any way due to cancer made the decision to begin the treatment very simple. The dangers of cancer are well-known and must give women cause for concern when deciding to take a course of HRT. I believe it is important to maintain regular checks on the breasts and to have blood-pressure monitored when taking long term treatment like this and most doctors will insist on this when renewing the prescription. Apart from removing the discomforting symptoms of menopause, there are other benefits which are being recognised. Weakening of bone tissue and conditions such as osteoporosis are increasingly common in women of middle age and it is now known that HRT is helping to prevent and indeed cure this in many cases. I was suffering from a bone weakness in the knees and since taking HRT this has now disappeared. It is also being recognised that there is a lowering of cholesterol in the blood when HRT is used. Again, I have benefitted from this aspect and a previously high level of cholesterol is now well below the recommended level.
As for my doctors, when I need advice, I can see the female doctor; when I am in a hurry and know what is wrong, I see my male doctor and tell him what I need. My only problem is that I have just moved home and I'm not sure whether I shall be able to find such an ideal combination again. After all, I have lived in my body for all these years and I mostly know what is needed to keep it healthy, but a sympathetic understanding from someone when things go wrong, is a rarity in today's busy medical centres.
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