Caloric Restriction with Adequate Nutrition Ben Best
Fly Longevity Experiments Douglas Skrecky
Recruiting the Rich and Famous R.C.W. Ettinger
Celebrities And Credibility Saul Kent
A Quick fix for aging? R.C.W. Ettinger
Is Erythritol a Superior Cryoprotectant? Douglas Skrecky
Effect of Ginkgo on Life Span Douglas Skrecky
Depression and the State of the World Ruth E. Smith
Credible Evidence for Cryonics Isn't the Problem George C. Smith
Thoughts on Schindler's List Kennita Watson
As Others See Us New Hope International
Contents are provided for information only, under the right to free speech. Opinions are the authors' own. No professional advice is intended. If you wish others to be legally responsible for your health, life or finances, then please consult a professional regulated according to the laws of your country.
Volume 11 no 67. First published September 1998. ISSN 0964-5659.
by Ben Best In Longevity Report 65, Doug Skrecky wrote:
Recent evidence indicates that the anti-aging effect of caloric restriction, which has been documented in rodents, is not operative in humans.
CRAN (Caloric Restriction with Adequate Nutrition) has been proven to extend the maximum lifespan of hundreds of species -- every species tested, in fact, except two: Drosophila (fruit flies) and amoeba. Rodents are only noteworthy insofar as they are the species that have been most thoroughly-studied due to the fact that they are mammals and their lifespans are not unreasonably long.
Naturally, there is a problem in testing long-lived species and the only reasonable way of doing so within a human generation would be if we have biomarkers of aging. But again, to validate biomarkers would require more than a generation.
Nonetheless, there are some highly plausible candidates for biomarkers, a very noteworthy one being insulin-resistance. Both the monkey studies at the University of Wisconsin and those at the NIH have demonstrated a slower acquisition of insulin-resistance in CRAN monkeys in comparison with controls.
The human experience at Biosphere also demonstrated a great improvement in risk factors (blood glucose, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, etc.) for cardiovascular disease, cancer and adult onset diabetes. This would indicate a likely increase in mean lifespan, if not maximum lifespan.
Doug Skrecky wrote: A low body-mass index does have a positive association with reduced mortality rates in humans. However recent research indicates that this is due to a negative association between BMI and physical fitness. After physical fitness is accounted for, there exists no further effect of BMI on mortality. See the following table from International Journal of Obesity 19 Suppl: S41-S44 1995.
He should have noted that the article he was citing was from Volume 19 Supplement 4 of 1995.
|All Cause Death Rates|
|>30 62.1||18.0 (moderate & high together)|
While the above data indicate that the body mass index itself is not a primary driving factor for mortality in humans, the case it makes against caloric restriction exerting an anti-aging effect is not air-tight. What is needed is a false prediction from a postulated anti-aging effect of caloric restriction that could then be used in turn to falsify that hypothesis. I believe there exists one such prediction.
Far less than air-tight. I will need to read the paper to do a reasonable evaluation. However, the first thing I notice is that the lower limit of BMI that you cite is 27 -- but this is the lower limit for obesity! This study compares very obese with moderately obese with non-obese. BMI is problematic insofar as it does not distinguish an obese person from a muscle-bound person of the same height & weight. I am curious as to how the study defines "fitness".
We know from Framingham and countless other studies that people with lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and who do not smoke are far less likely to experience death from cardiovascular disease. We also know that obesity correlates with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, whereas people who exercise have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol (and more importantly a better HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio). Moreover, people who are "fit" are less likely to smoke. This gives us the result we should know from the beginning: that people who are more fit have a lower risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But this only means that they have a longer mean lifespan (squaring the curve), but it has no effect on maximum lifespan -- something we only see with CRAN.
If people were completely free from cardiovascular disease they would live (on average) 13 years longer -- but their maximum lifespan would not be increased at all. Nor would their rate of aging. CRAN is what extends maximum lifespan and slows rate of aging.
I believe the most accurate depiction of the facts would be that optimum extension of both mean and maximum lifespan occurs with a lifestyle of fitness and caloric restriction with adequate nutrition.
Doug Skrecky wrote:
Lower BMI is associated with reduced mortality in young and middle-aged humans. If caloric restriction retards the rate of aging and extends maximum life span in humans one must expect that a lower BMI would be significantly associated with reduced mortality in aged humans. If such an significant association is not found then caloric intake is not operative in modifying the rate of aging in humans and life spans beyond 120 will not be possible by reducing caloric intake. In humans over 84 years of age BMI has not been found to exert any significant effect on mortality. (New England Journal of Medicine 338: 1-7 1998 & Arch Intern Med 157: 2249-2258 1997) Therefore since no association has been found between BMI and mortality in aged humans, then caloric restriction is not operative in modifying the rate of aging in humans.
The major studies which established the inverse correlation between BMI & longevity were landmark studies which corrected for smoking & underlying disease. Other studies rarely do this. Even if these studies corrected for smoking, it would be very difficult to correct for underlying disease, since so many elderly people are, indeed, suffering from underlying disease.
As I suspected, neither of these two studies you cited corrected for smoking or underlying disease. The New England Journal of Medicine at least acknowledged this fact in the Discussion Section -- even mentioning the likelihood that underlying disease is probably more common in older subjects, although the authors suggested that indirect evidence supports their conclusions. The authors also mentioned that all of their data except mortality came from self-reporting on questionnaires -- and that under-reporting of body weight may increase with age.
More important, however, is the fact that many elderly people lose their appetite and do not eat properly. Their low BMI may indicate Caloric Restriction, but it does NOT indicate Adequate Nutrition. The malnourished elderly are numerous.
Doug Skrecky wrote: The fact that caloric restriction dramatically extends life span in mice, but not apparently in humans requires some explanation. Here is one. In mice caloric restriction is associated with torpor, which can act to reduce tumour growth. In C57BL/6J mice blocking torpor, by increasing housing temperature to 30 C reduced the increase in average life span associated with caloric restriction from 47% to just 4%. Since humans neither experience torpor, nor suffer from cancer to the degree that mice do the effect of caloric restriction in mice can not be generalized to include humans. For example in human centenarians only 4% die from cancer. By comparison cardiovascular disease accounts for 63% of deaths in those aged 95 and over. (Epidemiology 8: 501-504 1997) Thus it is cardiovascular disease and not cancer that is the major longevity limiting factor in humans.
I have said many times before that cardiovascular disease is a more important cause of mortality in humans than in rodents. And from this I conclude that CRAN may be of even more benefit to humans than it is to rodents from the point of view of mean lifespan. Douglas repeatedly fails to distinguish between mean and maximum lifespan.
Cancer is only such an important cause of death (relatively speaking) for rodents because cardiovascular disease is a relatively less important cause. But as the death-rate from cardiovascular disease declines in humans, the relative importance of cancer increases. It is estimated that sometime within the next decade cancer will become the leading cause of death for humans.
Fly Longevity Experiments
Fly Longevity Experiments
by Douglas Skrecky
22nd Update This is the 22'nd update on my fly longevity experiments. The flies I used in the nineth run were quite old and decrepit before I ever started the run. Instead of flying, these "flies" mostly just walked slowly when aroused. Using older pre-aged flies is a good idea during the winter when low temperatures slow fly aging and prolong my runs to over 2 months. However during the summer old flies can die too fast, as witness the results with Hawthorn 4X. This increased lifespan in the eighth run, but this time around the flies died so fast they never had a chance to be exposed to this supplement. The poor result with Hawthorn 8X, I attribute to toxicity attendant to overdosing. I will have to redo the Hawthorn 4X dosage sometime to confirm its effect.
Of the supplements tested on this run only the low dosage of Orris root looks mildly interesting. It exceeded the survival of both control bottles at all time points.
In the meantime I will push on and test other supplements with my milk-bottles-on-a-card-table experiments. Thus far of the over than 100 different supplements I have tested, I have as yet come across no big winners that dramatically extend fly lifespan. One always lives in hope.
Nineth Run NUMBER PERCENTAGE SURVIVAL ON DAY Supplement OF FLIES 7 12 17 19 24 27 _____________________________________________________________ Cntl 1 17 29% 24% 12% 6% 0 - Cntl 2 25 44 32 16 12 0 - Horseradish 7 29 0 - - - - Horseradish 4X 6 0 - - - - - Hawthorn 4X 7 0 - - - - - Hawthorn 8X 6 50 33 0 - - - Myrrh 6 17 17 0 - - - Myrrh 4X 5 60 20 20 20 0 0 Orange peel 7 29 14 0 - - - Orange peel 4X 8 13 13 0 - - - Orris root 8 50 38 38 25 0 - Orris root 4X 7 29 14 0 - - - Pepper (white) 7 57 43 0 - - - Pepper (white) 4X 8 13 13 0 - - - Peppermint leaves 7 57 43 14 0 - - Peppermint leaves 4X 9 56 44 0 - - - Saffron 9 33 33 0 - - - Saffron 4X 14 29 21 0 - - - Sasparilla 8 38 25 13 0 - - Sasparilla 4X 7 29 14 0 - - - Savory 8 25 13 13 13 13 0 Savory 4X 11 64 64 9 0 - - Senna 10 60 30 10 10 0 0 Senna 4X 10 70 30 10 10 0 0 Tenth Run Cntl 1 Cntl 2 Allspice: 1/16 Tsp Allspice 4X: 1/4 Tsp Ephedrine: 6 mg (75 mg Nutrion Health & Fitness ephedra extract) Ephedrine 4X: 24 mg (300 mg ephedra extract) Henna: 1/16 Tsp Henna 4X: 1/4 Tsp Licorice Root: 1/16 Tsp Licorice Root 4X: 1/4 Tsp Mahlab: 1/16 Tsp Mahlab 4X: 1/4 Tsp Mango: 1/16 Tsp Mango 4X: 1/4 Tsp Marjoram: 1/16 Tsp Marjoram 4X: 1/4 Tsp Methyl-sulfonyl-methane: 62.5 mg (MSM is a stable DMSO metabolite) MSM 4X: 250 mg MSM 16X: 1000 mg Royal Jelly: 125 mg (Montana brand - in a base of rice powder) Royal Jelly 4X: 500 mg
This is the 23rd update on my fly longevity experiments. The high summer temperatures of 30 to 35 C have accelerated fly aging, so that this experiment was concluded in a month, as opposed to a typical duration of around two months during the winter months.
In this run I was primarily interested in seeing the results with methyl-sulfonyl-methane. Although this supplement proved to be a bust, both low and high dose marjoram and royal jelly appear to enhance average life span somewhat. Neither of these lenghtened maximum life span, so no antiaging effect could be claimed.
The high temperatures encouraged pathogen growth in one of my breeding bottles, which had to be destroyed. The other breeding bottles also had fewer flies than I had hoped for, so the eleventh run is rather small. I am creating more breeding bottles so as to insure a larger twelveth run.
Many of the supplements I have tested in the past were spices. This had a disadvantage, in that the amounts of these materials fed the flies were much larger than the amounts (relatively speaking) that humans typically consume. I am now mostly switching over to foods that humans typically consume much larger quantities of. Thus if a food exerts an antiaging effect in flies, it would be at least possible for humans to consume similar quantities.
The eleventh run focuses exclusively on fruit juices. The most interesting juice IMHO is cranberry juice, which is known to exert a protective effect on urinary infections. If this exerts a protective effect against pathogens for flies it might increase their average life expectancy.
Other juices have other interesting properties. Orange juice exerts a significant anticancer effect in rodents. Grapefruit juice increases the absorption of many drugs, but also increases the risk of kidney stones. Pineapple juice is very effective in inhibiting the browning of apple rings. (J Food Sci 58(2): 399-404 1993) Whether any of these juices can increase fly life span is open to conjecture. There exists only one way to answer this question - do an experiment!
Tenth Run Number Percentage Survival on Day Supplement of flies 4 8 12 16 20 23 30 36 _____________________________________________________ Cntl 1 28 82% 71% 39% 29% 11% 11% 0% - Cntl 2 35 83 69 40 17 11 9 3 0 Allspice 47 81 72 45 32 15 9 0 - Allspice 4X 19 74 37 37 21 5 5 0 - Ephedrine 19 74 63 53 11 5 0 - - Ephedrine 4X 9 56 22 22 22 11 11 0 - Henna 14 64 29 21 0 - - - - Henna 4X 14 79 29 21 14 0 - - - Licorice Root 17 65 53 35 6 0 - - - Licorice Root 4X 14 43 29 21 7 7 7 0 - Mahlab 15 93 87 73 47 27 13 0 - Mahlab 4X 13 92 62 46 23 8 8 0 - Mango 15 100 73 67 27 0 - - - Mango 4X 13 85 85 77 38 23 15 0 - Marjoram 23 91 87 74 39 17 9 0 - Marjoram 4X 11 82 82 64 64 36 36 0 - MSM* 13 92 69 46 31 8 8 0 - MSM 4X 10 90 80 60 10 0 - - - MSM 16X 16 94 75 31 19 6 6 0 - Royal Jelly 19 95 89 63 37 16 16 5 0 Royal Jelly 4X 9 100 100 78 44 33 33 0 - *Methyl-sulfonyl-methane Run 11 Cntl 1 Cntl 2 Apple: Sun-Rype Apple Juice Blackcurrent: Barker's Blackcurrent Juice Cranberry: President's Choice Cranberry Cocktail Grape: McCain's Grape Punch Grapefruit, red: Sun-Rype Rio Red Grapefruit Cocktail Grapefruit, white: Sun-Rype Grapefruit Juice Orange: Sun-Rype Orange Juice Pineapple: Dole Pineapple Juice Tomato: Heinz Tomato Juice diluted with 50% water
R.C.W. Ettinger <email@example.com>
A claim to fame does not rest on acceptance of cryonics, or any other criterion distinct from the basis of the claim. I'm not sure what "special understanding" means, but I have often said that (in my fallible opinion) it is (generally) a waste of time to make special efforts to recruit the rich or/and famous.
Why? First, experience. Failure has been nearly complete--and even the very few "successes" (sign-ups) have produced nothing (as far as I know) except another ordinary member.
First, the percentage of recruits in the population is extremely small. Since the (very) rich or famous are themselves a tiny minority, you are targeting a tiny minority of a tiny minority.
Second, the rich/famous are "protected" by layers of advisers who find it MUCH easier and safer to say no.
Third, the rich/famous are too busy and too happy to bother with someone else's project.
Fourth, they have special psychological problems--e.g. losing relative status, starting over, etc.
Fifth, the low cost (relative to their cirumstances) will not help us. The cost is already minor, for millions of people, as a fraction of their estates.
None of this belies the possibility that one special recruitment might have magical catalytic properties, or that some special salesman might have the magic touch with a particular potential recruit, etc. But I, for one, will make no special effort to nab a celebrity.
Nevertheless, I do have one long-shot suggestion for someone else who might want to try, as follows:
Usually the rich/famous only want to venture (for example in investments) where others (peers) have preceded or accompany. So maybe one could create a list of names, and then say to each: "If all or most of the following join, will you?" If several of them say yes, then you pull it together....As I said, a long shot, and requiring careful strategy; the details of execution would be crucial.
Finally, the usual reminder: We will probably do all right if we just keep doing what we KNOW we can do--work steadily to grow and improve in every dimension. Don't neglect the good in pursuit of the "best."
Post script: I omitted at least one significant problem affecting recruitment of the rich or famous, viz., they usually face an exacerbated form of the problem of "What will the neighbours think?"
If they are still active, they have constituencies. If they are in business, they may not want to risk the displeasure of directors or colleagues or stockholders or customers. If they are in entertainment, they may not want to risk loss of fans; if in politics, voters.
Celebrities And Credibility
by Saul Kent <SaulKent@compuserve.com> CEO 21st Century Medicine
Chris Fedell (in Cryonet message no 9975) suggests that getting "high profile individuals" to endorse cryonics might be the best way the movement could "reach escape velocity any time soon", and asks if anyone is trying to recruit such people at this time.
I don't believe anyone is making such an effort at this time, and do not think this is the time to do so. I'm now going to repeat something I've said over and over on this forum, but I think it bears repeating at least one more time.
I believe the biggest reason that people in general, and "high profile individuals" in particular, do not sign up for cryonics or endorse it, is because cryonics lacks credibility, and that the only way of raising the credibility of cryonics is to develop improved cryonics methods, which are documented scientifically in peer-reviewed journals. Once we have such documentation plus a well-funded research program, which can be perceived to be leading to perfected Suspended Animation, it will be easier to attract people to cryonics...especially high profile individuals.
I agree that the endorsement of cryonics by mainstream celebrities (no matter what field they are in) would help to convince others of the value of cryonics. If someone like Walter Cronkite or Johnny Carson, for example, endorsed cryonics publically, I think it would impress many people, some of whom would sign up.
The problem, in my opinion, is that celebrities are even more sensitive to the issue of credibility than non-celebrities. Rich and famous people not only tend to depend on the opinions of mainstream scientists and physicians in deciding whether to pursue an unorthodox practice, they often have direct access to these authority figures. As a result, they aren't likely to consider endorsing cryonics until it gets favourable notices at places like Harvard, Yale and the Mayo Clinic.
One reason, I believe, that celebrities are so sensitive to the issue of credibility is because they perceive that their success in dependent in large part on acceptance by the public, or dealings with conservative government or industry leaders. They know that because of their fame, the public endorsement of cryonics would attract significant media attention, which they fear would hurt their career.
I believe that, once cryonics achieves greater credibility, it won't be necessary to go out of the way to interest celebrities to cryonics, but that they will be contacting us in significant numbers. I say this because a significant number of celebrities have expressed interest in cryonics in the past.
For example, right after actor Peter Sellers suffered his first major heart attack (which he survived), he was given a copy of Bob Ettinger's book, The Prospect Of Immortality, by famed movie director Stanley Kubrick. Sellers apparently read the book, and stated that he wanted to be frozen. However, he never signed up for cryonics and, as a result, was not frozen (years later) when he did die from another heart attack. Two other entertainers who have been quoted as being favorable to cryonics are Steve Allen and Ben Gazzara.
In the late 1960s, I received a phone call (at home) from Salvador Dali, who said he was interested in cryonics, and wanted me to meet with a theatrical director friend of his at Carnegie Hall the following day. I (and Curtis Henderson) spent several hours with Dali's friend and gave him some cryonics literature.
Dali's interest in cryonics is also a matter of public record. He stated that he wanted to be frozen in published interviews, and in at least one of his books. He apparently told many people that he was going to be frozen, but when it came down to it, he wasn't.
About a year later, I received a phone call (at work) from the wife of four-star U.S. General Omar Bradley, one of the heros of World War II. Bradley's wife was very enthusiastic about cryonics. She said that both she and the General were interested in being frozen. She was so excited about cryonics that she came down to my office that afternoon to pick up a packet of cryonics literature, so that she could read it "immediately" on a plane she was about to take to Europe. I never heard from her again.
Larry King is another celebrity who has expressed strong interest in cryonics, to me personally, (and on the air) when I was a guest on his show in Miami, many years ago, and again, when I was on his CNN show in the early stages of the Dora Kent story. King also expressed a favourable attitude towards cryonics when he hosted another show on cryonics, with Mike Darwin and Brenda Peters as guests. Yet, King, as far as I know, has never made a move to sign up for cryonics.
As far as Arthur C. Clarke goes, there have been several indications that he is favourable to cryonics, including a short discussion I had with him in person when we were both guests on a New York City radio talk show. In addition, I believe others have communicated with him about cryonics via regular or e-mail. As I recall, one reason Clarke gave for not signing up is that he lives in a remote area (Sri Lanka), where the delivery of cryonics services is not practical.
Again, I think the key to getting celebrities to sign up for cryonics and announce this publicly is greater credibility for the idea through the published results of research, and that, once such credibility is achieved, we won't have much trouble attracting "high profile individuals"..
A Quick fix for aging?
by R.C.W. Ettinger<Ettinger@aol.com>
Various people in various venues have argued, pro or con, the likelihood that relatively simple interventions (including changes in a single gene) might produce dramatic increases in human lifespan. (I think Steve Harris recently argued that simple break-throughs are unlikely.) Apologizing for not having some of the citations handy, a couple of remarks may still be worth making.
In preface, although I am not a short term optimist on such things as research break-throughs in suspended animation or cryo-repair, we nevertheless should keep open minds on scenarios we tend to downplay. Anyone can be wrong, and often is.
Here are some indications that relatively simple interventions, including changes in a single gene, might indeed produce dramatic increase in life span:
First, experience. We have recently read (Nature Genetics) of a 40% increase in fruit-fly lifespan by introduction of the human SOD1 gene; also (Science, 15 August 1997), the roundworm C.elegans had its life span tripled by a change in the gene daf-2.
Obviously, this is not strong evidence for a similar possibility in humans, but it is certainly not negligible.
Second, theory. For example, humans & gorillas & chimpanzees have most genes in common, yet the human lifespan is significantly longer. This suggests that the difference must be found in relatively few genes, possibly only one. Also, birds are relatively close genetically, yet some small birds live about as long as humans, despite faster metabolism. Also, various breeds of dogs are very close genetically, yet differ significantly in life span; finding the reasons may or may not be useful.
As another example, we know that some species have life span limited by positive programming, not just wearing out or error accumulation. The Pacific salmon is the most striking example; it drops dead after spawning. Conceivably, some aspect(s) of human aging might (if only accidentally) be related to positive programming, therefore theoretically susceptible to relatively simple manipulation.
Some reptiles and fish appear to have unlimited life spans, and also no limit to growth. When we gain full control of development--including specific systems, organs, and tissues--we may conceivably find ways to combine the benefits of endless growth potential with limits to actual size. Perhaps growth could be slowed asymptotically.
John de Rivaz, among others, has speculated that there cannot be a single gene that actively causes aging, because one would expect occasional people to be born without it, or with a defective variety, and these people would have open life span. This argument is not iron-clad. How many people are born with a limb number different from 4? (Not stunted limbs, but a different number.) Conceivably, some genes are so fundamental to the species that living specimens lacking the gene are almost impossible.
In any event, it seems probable that at least part of aging is not actively caused by genes, but is just the result of an imperfectly engineered system that does not adequately correct for accumulated damage. Intervention could be at several levels, including the proximal--and therein lies good cause for optimism, perhaps even relatively short term optimism.
And that brings us back to cryonics. Sensible people take a balanced view. Those who simply want to take their chances--and allow their dependents and others they influence to take theirs--are free to do nothing but try to enjoy life in the present. Some of us prefer realism and responsibility, living in the present but also prudently planning for the future, or probable futures. There is a good chance that, without cryonics, your long term sum of happiness will be greatly reduced.
by Doug Skrecky
Using glycerol to preserve entire organs has certain drawbacks. Glycerol is actively metabolised to formaldehyde, and in addition at high enough concentrations it can destroy cell membranes. Erythritol appears not to suffer from any of these side effects. Unlike glycerol, erythritol is not actively metabolised.1 Like sorbitol, erthyritol appears to stabilise membranes. Adding 5% erthyritol to bacteria cultures, which are freeze-dried preserves them well at 22 C for one month, whereas 5% glycerol is harmful.2
Unfortuately, unlike glycerol very little work has been done with testing erythritol as a cryoprotectant. However in one test it proved to be superior to glycerol. Survival of rat embryos exposed to 0.3 M glycerol was 16%, while with 0.3 M erythritol it was 56%. At 1.0 M survival with glycerol 52%, and with erythritol it was 79%.3
In addition to being less toxic, and yielding better results in at least one test, erythritol also offers the possibility of eliminating liquid nitrogen as a storage medium and replacing this with less expensive dry ice. Excellent stability of slowly cooled cryoprotectant solutions is known to occur at temperatures below the annealed glass transition temperature (Tg'), where the unfrozen phase of a solution hardens to a glass. This is known to correlate with the melting temperature of the cryoprotectant. The melting point of erythritol at 122 C is actually higher than for sorbitol, and since the Tg' of sorbitol is above dry ice temperatures, then one can predict that this would also probably be the case for erythritol.
All of these advantages would be of little avail if erythritol did not penetrate tissue. Fortunately the membrane permeability in bull spermatozoa of erythritol is about 40 times that of sorbitol, so this would not appear to be a serious problem..4 This is still slower than for glycerol, but in the case of erythritol the results may make it well worth the wait.
(1) "Erythritol: A Review of Biological and Toxicological Studies" Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 24: S191-S197 1996
(2) "Effect of Carbohydrates and Related Compounds on the Long-Term Preservation of Freeze-dried Bacteria" Cryobiology 11: 73-79 1974
(3) "Cryoprotective Effect of Polyols on Rat Embryos During Two-Step Freezing" Cryobiology 29: 332-341 1992
(4) "Permeability Coefficients of Bull Spermatozoa for Water and Polyhydric Alcohols" Experimental Cell Research 69: 212-216 1971
by Doug Skrecky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Authors: Winter JC. Institution: Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, 14214-3000, USA. Title: The effects of an extract of Ginkgo biloba, EGb 761, on cognitive behavior and longevity in the rat. Source: Physiology & Behavior. 63(3):425-33, 1998 Feb 1.
Extracts of the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree are widely used throughout the world fortheir purportedly beneficial effects on brain function. In the present investigation, a standardized extract, EGb 761, was self-administered orally by male Fischer 344 rats that were then tested in an eight-arm radial maze. The tasks employed were a) continuous learning and b) delayed nonmatching to position. Chronic postsession administration of EGb 761 at a dose of 50 mg/kg had no effect on continuous learning but the same dose given presession resulted in a trend toward fewer sessions to reach criterion performance as well as fewer errors. In addition, it was observed that rats chronically treated with EGb 761 lived significantly longer than vehicle-treated subjects. In a delayed nonmatching to position task using a 30-min delay in 20-month-old rats. EGb 761 administered presession produced a dose-related decrease in total, retroactive, and proactive errors; a repeated-measures design was used, with subjects serving as their own controls. Following the dose-response determination, the group, now 26 months of age, was divided in two with half receiving EGb 761 at a dose of 200 mg/kg presession and the other half vehicle (sweetened condensed milk). A statistically significant positive effect of treatment with EGb-761 was observed. The present data are consistent with the beneficial effects on cognitive performance which have been widely reported in human subjects. In addition, the data suggest that the methods employed, i.e., continuous learning and delayed nonmatching to position tasks in aged rats, are capable of detecting drugs of possible value in the treatment of human cognitive impairment. Finally, the present results encourage a search for the pharmacologically active principles of EGb 761 and for their mechanisms of action.
Additional quote from text:
"An unexpected observation made during the continuous-learning experiments was that treatment with EGb 761 appeared to extend the life span. Because an effect on longevity was not an original goal of the experiments and because several animals had died before the effect became apparent, formal assessment of the causes of death was not undertaken. Based on the well-established fact that caloric restriction extends the life span in rodents, it might be argued that EGb 761 somehow acted to alter food intake and weight gain. However, retrospective evaluation revealed no significant difference in weight between the EGb 761 and control groups at the time of death. Although the mechanism by which energy restriction extends life is unknown, oxidative stress and free radical production are thought to be important factors both in aging and in dementia. Thus, the known effects of Ginkgo biloba as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger provide alternative, though highly speculative explanations of the data. Because the data reflect lifetime administration of a relatively low dose of EGb 761, immediate questions arise as to whether initiation of treatment later in life would have had a comparible effect and as to whether higher doses would have been more effective. I am aware of no previous reports regarding possible effects of EGb 761 on longevity."
Here's an interesting project in the field of gerontology: Feed various subfractions of EGb 761 to aged rodents to determine the ingredient(s) active in providing the life span prolongation and note the effect on various causes of mortality to help ascertain the mode(s) of action. From Fig.2 the average life span was 26.4 months for the control Fisher 344 rats, and 31.0 months (17% increase) for the EGb 761 treated rats. Maximum life span was 35 months for the control rats, and 38 months (9% increase) in the EGb 761 treated rats. Dosage of EGB 761 used was 50 mg/kg 5 times per week.
Depression and the State of the World
by Ruth E. Smith <email@example.com>
I don't think that most people think about whether there is injustice in the world and thereby become depressed, whether intelligent or otherwise. Barring a chemical basis for a depression, most such emotional states are perpetrated by the individual for other reasons, often not even known to the individual himself. Since at least Lord Byron's time, it has been fashionable to affect depression (in the absence of tuberculosis) and to wail about the angst of our modern society. People who are happy in those circles are secretly envied and openly resented.
Pop psychology has been woefully inadequate in dealing with such emotions as depression because the current culture is focussed upon short-term emotional indulgences rather than long-term rational planning. The unquestioned assumption which we are supposed to believe is that the world is full of injustice. That is undoubtedly true. And no one person has control over this fact. I control what I control and I refuse to feel guilty or depressed over that which is outside of my control. Is there any reason why I should? Why is it that "smart people" should be depressed?
I submit that technology will not change depression or any other emotion. Happiness is a choice based upon one's ongoing decisions regarding what to focus upon as important or not. You can't think about everything. What you dwell upon is what generates your emotional reactions. I'd feel depressed too if I felt personally responsible for all the horrors around the world. However, I did not mass murder anyone lately. I cannot personally dismantle the virtual slave systems hidden in kleptocracies around the world. I do not consider myself responsible for the actions of other people, other governments nor other societies. I may abhor all these things but in the real world I have no real control over them. Therefore I focus on being a good friend and companion to those immediately around me and appreciate the joy of learning about all the wonderful and mysterious things there are also in the world.
Credible Evidence for Cryonics Isn't the Problem
by George C. Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I have read Saul Kent's many writings regarding the issue of "credibility" as a necessary step to "save" cryonics. With all due respect to this cryonics pioneer, I totally disagree. Is there any historical evidence to support the hypothesis that because something is scientifically demonstrated to be "true" or "workable" that it is then embraced?
I would submit that acceptance is an issue of popular whim based upon emotion, not science nor even reasonable evidence.
It is usually only after many years that scientists are willing to reconsider their beliefs (oops. I meant theories). Many have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the courtroom of proofs before they will grudgingly admit to what is, as opposed to their hubris-filled opinions of what "ought" to be.
One of the biggest breakthroughs in medicine was simply washing your hands. The doctor who pressed for this (Semmelweiss) was ridiculed and died without seeing this simple practice accepted - despite all the evidence of its effectiveness in preventing death and infection. Why? Well among the reasons given by doctors of the day was that it was "ridiculous" to waste one's time washing your hands.
I still await someone to authoritatively address the arguments made by Duesberg in Reinventing the AIDS Virus. Duesberg, a top retrovirologist, has been campaigning for years to get the scientific community to explain why they support the HIV-AIDS hypothesis in the face of a mountain of evidence which makes such a hypothesis untenable. Meanwhile people die of AIDS ... due to something. Here the evidence is being bluntly ignored. Egyptologists assure us that the Sphinx of Giza is about 4,000 years old. Geologists point to visible water erosion on the Sphinx which had to have happened at least 12,000 years ago when it last rained in Egypt. Egyptologists haughtily ignore the evidence of their senses and flatly deny the geologists' evidence - a multi-ton carving of rock with water rivulets everywhere on its ancient surface! Scientific evidence isn't enough. It must not contradict your own group's theories (dogma).
The Big Bang Didn't Happen declared plasma physicist Eric Lerner in his 1992 book by the same title. Now, six years further down the road, the nonsense of this 20th century "flat earth" theory is being attacked publically. Why haven't the modern cosmologists and astronomers dumped the patchwork dinosaur known as the big bang? Because it isn't popular in scientific "circles" to do so. After all, smart people for years have endorsed the big bang, so it must be true. (Let's just sweep all those inconvenient facts which make it impossible under the rug).
On a more popular level, the so-called "face on Mars" might have been the first solid evidence for extraterrestrial life, but NASA scientists didn't even want to look because they somehow "knew" (oh, to be omniscient like them!) that it couldn't be artificial. [This caused a bit of comment on the Internet: in fact it is more sensible to consider the most likely explanation first, ie that the Face was just a coincidence of a rock formation and the camera angle, which is what later examination proved it to be. The problem, of course, is that further examination takes time and money. -ed] The issue of at least looking at what might have been the most exciting cosmological discovery in history seems a "no-brainer". And the only reason these "bow tie" scientists were overruled was because of a massive emotional appeal by ignorant members of the public (too ignorant to "understand" without looking, that the "face on Mars "couldn't" be artificial).
So much for the persuasive value of scientific evidence. The scientists are bound by peer pressure. Don't rock the boat. Don't invite possible ridicule. And for God's sake DON'T endanger your GRANTS! This is why almost every major technological breakthrough requires another generation for it to be accepted and acted upon. We always have to wait for the current generation of authority figures to die off and for the rebellious newcomers to use the latest "heresy" to leverage their own way into becoming a new intractable, fossilized "establishment", possessed of their new dogma.
Scientists practice a religion (with rare exceptions who are quickly branded heretics and then excommunicated). "Science", for most, remains an unknown ideal for the majority of professional scientists. The religion of the scientists follows a priesthood protocal, with rites of passage (college degrees, internships, tenure, etc.) and sacred literature (approved journals).
My point is that you are dealing with human beings. Scientists make their decisions about what to believe not upon "scientific evidence" but upon emotions. The history of science is a testament to this all too human need to feel right ... and damn the facts!
For this reason, I would contend that believing that you can convince the current crop of high priests (the current scientific community) that cryonics is viable based upon scientific evidence is to not understand the nature of the human beast. It is the very iconoclastic nature of cryonics, the fact that it is not acceptable to the current priesthood which is its best chance for becoming acceptable for the next crop of young priests who must find some opposing viewpoint to demonstrate their distinctness from the "old guard". (The young apes must antagonize and challenge the authority of the established older apes to usurp the positions of authority and wrest power and domination for themselves). Which means only that after scientific credibility can be established for cryonics, then we get to wait still another generation for the above mentioned social forces to propel cryonics to a level of scientific acceptance. I don't think I am willing to wait that long! There is, however, another way. It was demonstrated in how the ignorant masses caused the NASA priesthood to look at the "face on Mars" anyway. Emotion rules all! As we are dealing with death and its redefinition, let's look at how the salesmen of death, life insurance salesmen, do their job. (The next time you look at one of those skyscrapers in any major city, notice that reddish-coloured mortar which holds the bricks together. It is dried human blood).
Selling life insurance is not based on anything rational. It is emotional. Once the "prospect" is shown that he can "protect" his loved ones, and continue to provide for their future, he achieves a small form of immortality, but he also avoids being considered an inconsiderate, selfish monster by his spouse. "You won't leave me a widow who can no longer pay the bills!" she thinks. The salesman knows that these emotional issues of relationship are why someone will bet money in the form of insurance premiums that they will die sooner rather than later. Selling insurance to mortals has complete "credibility". So far, everybody dies, right? But this is seldom if ever why anyone agrees to buy life insurance.
Ask any successful life insurance salesman about the truth of his work. Choosing to take action requires emotions, not statistics. It isn't an issue of "credibility". How many people actually check the financial statement of the life insurance company they sign up with? How many even have heard that insurance companies, like any business, can fail?
No. Not credibility. It is emotion.
James Halperin has done more with his book The First Immortal to cause cryonics to grow than anything other than setting up a way and means to freeze people in the first place. He has presented emotional situations with people. People who read will relate emotionally. The back of his book then tells them where to go for further information.
I had known about cryonics for years before. I agreed with the rational arguments for it. I figured that someday I would "get around to it."
I signed up for cryonics for myself and my family some years ago because I imagined how I would feel if I were sitting at the funeral of my wife or daughter or son, and knew that I might have saved them but now I was responsible for them staying dead. It was fear of future guilt and remorse which moved me.
What caused me to think these morbid thoughts? A life insurance salesman. (By the way, he was not even aware of cryonics. But his sales presentation suggested these very issues).
So what do I think can work to cause cryonics to grow? I agree with Robert Ettinger. Keep on going. But I have one additional suggestion. Talk to more successful life insurance salespeople. They know what works. We don't have to do anything new. We do need to remember that human beings do what they do for reasons. Those reasons are almost always emotional. Wait for scientists? Forget it. Just keep developing emotional arguments based on what people truly value. For example, I have a bachelor friend who is engaged to be married. He considered cryonics shortly before a surgical operation one year ago, but has set it aside when he survived it. The immediate threat to his own life was gone. After he is married, I will remind him of the same scenario I was moved by to urge him to consider again. Because he loves his wife, he will eventually sign up. He would not like the thought of attending his wife's funeral knowing that he might have saved her. He is a caring person. (He also carries life insurance).
Once enough "ignorant" laymen (like me) attach personal emotional importance to cryonics, you will see a groundswell. The face on Mars may have been natural. But it was the emotions of many people which forced the scientists to look. We need only continue to offer the option of considering cryonics to our friends. When they naturally reject it, we then need only realize that they have not felt the right emotion strongly enough yet to understand that they do want to sign up.
Oh, and if it seems too "crass" or "undignified" to use bluntly emotional arguments to persuade those you know to take a chance on life, ask yourself this. How will you feel if you go to their funeral knowing you might have saved their life instead of...
There has been some renewed discussion about the "scientific evidence"--or lack of it--that cryonics will work. Some tend to support, or at least excuse, the "establishment" view that such evidence is lacking.
As a public relations tactic, this is arguable. As fact, it is not. The "establishment" view is flatly absurd.
First, consider a new line of investigation undertaken by a "scientist." Does he know for sure, in advance, that it will be fruitful? Of course not. Does he think there is rational cause for optimism? Of course--else he (or his employers) wouldn't be doing it. Is he therefore--by his own argument, or that attributed to him--being "unscientific?" Nonsense! He is (usually) being scientific, making rational tentative judgments about the future, based on explicit or implicit probability calculations.
The "establishment" does NOT have a viewpoint that excludes cryonics-like endeavors--only one that excludes cryonics, or/and any other enterprise "not invented here" or unpopular for some other reason.
The same reasoning applies to technology, if you want to make a distinction between technology and science. When a new [anything] is in the investigation or planning stages, or even in the early stages of development, does the engineer know for sure that there will be a payoff? Of course not--same argument. We make probability estimates and act on them. This is 100% scientific.
For that matter, there is often only a reasonable probability of being right AFTER the new product has been brought to market. Look at thalidomide or a thousand gadgets that turned out to have serious dangers or defects. Was it "unscientific" to use them? Who said so at the time?
In my opinion, it will rarely, if ever, be advantageous to concede that we do not have scientific evidence that cryonics will work, or even that the chances are poor. In principle--and again, in my opinion, in practice--we need only concede the obvious, that we do not yet have PROOF that it will work. We DO have evidence, and should never concede otherwise.
I continue to recommend the following type of response, when met with negative opinions. Simply ask, first, what is the individual's estimate of the probability that cryonics will work (that current patients will be revived). If he does not produce a number (or range), then his assertion is meaningless. If he does produce a number, demand to see the calculations and derivation--I guarantee he will not exhibit any, or any that are defensible.
If he asks to see OUR calculations, mine are on the CI web site.
If the individual is not hostile, but merely skeptical, then we go through the usual routine of trotting out our reasoning--and for those so inclined, my calculations.
We don't have proof. We do have evidence. To concede otherwise is certainly incorrect and probably counterproductive.
Robert Ettinger Cryonics Institute Immortalist Society http://www.cryonics.org
Thoughts on Schindler's List
Kennita Watson <email@example.com>
Last night I saw Schindler's List. Following are a number of ramblings that have come to mind, without regard to plot points they might divulge -- I'm not in the mood for that kind of censoring.
An initial sobering thought: If everyone in the world were going to die except those whose names I could remember, some people I like quite a lot would die.
Money -- time -- life.
Oskar Schindler became extremely wealthy and saved 1100 lives. Do I -- do you -- have enough to save even one? The most important one -- your own? And now that I think of it, Schindler saved 1101, of which the last had to be the first or the 1100 were doomed. But I digress.
Let's start with cryonics -- a slim chance, but your best one at the moment, should death come after you. Do you have enough to pay startup costs, insurance, annual fees, for a chance to save that most important life?
What if your insurance company goes belly-up, or institutes new rules, or drops your coverage, or...? Do you have enough to pay out of pocket for your suspension? For whatever reason, it could be your only chance to live.
Even if you are signed up for cryonics, but especially if you aren't, I presume you realize that each year that you stay alive improves your chances for living indefinitely; medical technology, computer technology, cryotechnology, etc. are constantly improving. Schindler bankrupted himself in seven months, but it was just long enough. Do you have enough to live another year if you lose your job? If you become disabled? If you require constant hospitalization? If you require expensive medical treatment not covered by your insurance, or that is only available in a foreign country? Or for which you have to pay bribes to ensure that you are in the experimental group in clinical trials?
What about for five years? Or ten? Every year could be the year in which rejuvenation is discovered -- in which a crucial disease (any disease can be crucial if you have it and it can kill you) is cured -- in which suspended animation is perfected. How much can you afford to pay to live till that year rather than to die in the year before?
And what if you have fatal disease X (AIDS comes to mind as an example, but there are others, and evolution seems to toss us a new one now and then)? Can you afford to fund research to find the cure? Or at least a treatment that will allow you to live another year, or five, or ten?
And what about the people in the world most important to you? Can you keep them alive? How many are there, and how much would it take? If you don't know, do you need an Itzak Stern to help you find out?
I've heard many people say "I don't care about money". Neither did Schindler, but he realized that money could mean the difference between life and death, and he cared about life. While our circumstances are not as dramatic, the things I mention above, and many others (living in a safe neighborhood, driving a safe car, whatever) show ways in which money can prolong our lives. Schindler and the Schindler Jews survived until the end of World War II. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to survive until the War on Death is won. How long can you afford to survive? What is it worth to you to make enough money to survive longer -- the additional month or year that it might be before victory is declared?
"The worst is over"
"I could have done more"
Schindler also could not have saved 1100 lives had he not been a member of the Nazi Party. He clearly hated what they stood for, but he realized that they had the power and that he would need some of it in order to save lives. I have been a member of the Libertarian party for almost 15 years, but I have the feeling that both the similarities and the differences in the situations here/now and there/then deserve some quiet contemplation.
I wonder if people can be taught to hate death as much as I do? An army of such warriors could certainly fight the War on Death more effectively than me alone. Perhaps that would be the best use of money -- starting a school, funding a college course or community education class....
Or perhaps taking a cue from Hitler's original propaganda machine: commercials, TV shows, newspaper articles (or even my own newspaper), movies (though Schindler's List sets an awfully high bar), and other mass media.
I disliked South Park before I saw Schindler's List -- I'm pretty sure I couldn't stomach it now.
I definitely need to go find something light, happy, upbeat, and positive to see or do.
When I saw this film it made me think of cryonics. The authority figures who make cryonics difficult and arrangements needlessly irksome and expensive are equivalent to the "Nazis" in the film and in history, of course. In the instance of cryonics, things have not got really bad yet - that would come if cryonics was regulated so that suspension minima were ten or twenty times higher because of compliance costs on the cryonics organisations. At the moment in most jurisdictions, cryonics is in the pre-war stages of the film. In some countries, such as the Canadian province of British Columbia, and also France, the end game has already started with the authorities simply banning cryonics.
As far as I can remember Oskar Schindler went into the situation extremely wealthy as a result of inheritance - his actions lost him that wealth, and after the war he tried other business ventures none of which were successful, and he died in relative poverty.
The thought occurs to me that had he given his inheritance away earlier supporting something else, possibly merely adding (in proportion) a drop to a greater cause, eg the Red Cross, then he would have lost the opportunity to do what he did. It is likely that there would have been no one else to do what he did so with hindsight his choice was right.
As Others See Us
by New Hope International http://www.nhi.clara.net/nhihome.htm and http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/1735 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Longevity Report #62
This is a magazine publishing articles related to living longer. Some are heavily technical, others inspirational. One piece offers an account of a drug that it claims is beneficial for the treatment of, among other things, senile dementia: Vinpocetine. I would have been willing to trust the argument more had the author known how to use an apostrophe (he uses it's for its throughout). This may sound petty but I like my medical advice to come from someone with a reasonable grasp of grammar and punctuation. I'm funny that way. It's a useful magazine for cranks (I'll be subscribing myself more than likely).
reviewer: Paul McDonald.
Longevity Report #63
I had just completed reading Hans Richter's DADA retrospective when I picked this up and the cover
disclaimer made me howl -
"Contents are provided for information only, under the right to free speech. Opinions are the author's own. No professional advice is intended. If you wish others to be legally responsible for your health, life or finances, then please consult a professional regulated according to the laws of your country."
The articles and pseudo-scientific reports fall into two categories, for life extension by cryogenics (aka suspended animation) or by actual elongation of life. For the former, much of the discussion addresses why more people are not signing up for cryonics. Spin-off articles treat things like water purification and the common cold. I have to admit I enjoyed reading this, but perhaps, perversely.
reviewer: Giovanni Malito.
I would not want to put these reviewers off, but I would like to take this opportunity of telling them yet once again that:
All these words exist.
As to being put off an article because a biochemist misplaced his apostrophes (and I didn't pick it up), I think is just plain silly, even if humourously put.
However I suppose I don't really want the future populated by people who are influenced by such trivia, so I shouldn't complain really. It is rather like being pleased that Hitler rejected any science that was Jewish, regardless of its merit. Such behaviour was partly responsible for his National Socialists losing the war.
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