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Canada Medicine Science

Free Radicals May Not Be Cause of Aging 371

Posted by timothy
from the with-very-few-exceptions-not-a-human-being dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at McGill University in Montreal have uncovered strong new evidence that that wildly-accepted mitochondrial free radical theory of aging (MFRTA) is wrong. MFRTA suggests that free radicals cause oxidative damage, which in turn leads to the aging process. This new evidence shows that high levels of Reactive Oxidative species are rather a biological signal used to combat aging then the process itself. This goes against claims of major health benefits from consuming foods and particularly supplements that contain antioxidants."
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Free Radicals May Not Be Cause of Aging

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  • by Toe, The (545098) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @01:03PM (#34608030)

    More generally, scientists should not confuse cause and effect. Or even more generally: correlation for causation. That's just bad science.

    And yet, it seems to be rather prevalent. Especially in the questionable science of nutrition, where any slightly new idea can lead to a fortune in book sales, diet plans, drug development, etc.

  • Occam's razor... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @01:16PM (#34608136) Homepage

    If ANY diet made you live significantly longer we'd have noticed by now.

    Same goes for exercise regimes, eg. If running five miles a day made you live longer we'd have noticed.

    We can point to plenty of things that make your life shorter, eg. smoking, eating nothing but junk food, but I'm fairly sure that if you're living a reasonable lifestyle then genetics completely dominates. After that it's probably as much down to happiness as anything else.

  • by St.Creed (853824) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @01:25PM (#34608214)

    As shown by this research: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101128/full/news.2010.635.html [nature.com]

    Rather straightforward, isn't it? Why *does* a cell die, anyway? As long as it can grow and replicate, it shouldn't. Except for the telomere TTL-signal. Once we intervene in that, I think aging could be reduced or slowed drastically. I doubt there is much risk of cancer: cancer is when cells don't respond to normal apoptosis signals and keep growing. While removing the TTL-signal could be risky, I'm confident that cells with only the Time To Live removed could still respond normally to other signals. And while cancer *may* be lethal, aging is *always* lethal.

  • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kagura (843695) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @02:02PM (#34608508)

    But organic is the way to go! If it's natural, it's good for you

    Why do so many people think this is the case? That something manufactured is "not as good" as something natural. I'm sure there are as many cases where this is true as there are where this is false. Yet look at how organic foods have been taking off... I'd rather eat food that was kept bug-free by pesticides, and used fertilizer to make the plants grow to their maximum extent, and had preservatives added to keep the fruit at its tip-top freshness. (I know some organic food companies just add "organic" as a label that doesn't mean anything, but most organic producers follow some (if not all) of those rules.) Oh well... I guess people can eat what they choose, no matter what their rationale may be.

  • by woolio (927141) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @02:08PM (#34608554) Journal

    Haven't you noticed how people not so many years agou used to look quite old and frail already in their sixties, but now we are no longer surprised to find that people in their seventies are still physically active and mentally alert?

    Yes. Then I realize that old people haven't changed... When I was 10, people in their 40s looked aged, people in their 60s looked very old and frail, and people in their 80s looked like something from a horror movie.

    Now that I'm in my 30s, I find people in their 40s don't look so old. And people in their 60s don't look all that much different with the exception of some white/grey hair and a few more blemishes on their skin.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skids (119237) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @02:52PM (#34608838) Homepage

    It would be a less tenable position if the makers of processed food bothered at all to produce healthy products. Try to buy a box of crackers that hasn't had all the soluble fiber removed. You've got like two choices, and they both cost more than the products next to them which likely took more effort to refine.

    Personally I'd feel safer strolling down a supermarket drug aisle and popping a random pill than I would walking into the woods and eating a random mushroom. At the same time, I wouldn't trust the research lab telling me the corn-that-produces-its-own-pesticide is just fine for me farther than I could throw the CEOs lexus.

    Take a look at the crap nutritional value presented by the refined products, and the amount of corruption of science when it comes to analyzing health effects of some company's latest brainchild, and it leaves plenty of toehold for the "natural is good" meme to take root. If the research was not so clouded by money, and wasn't done almost exclusively on corporate patent-babies, people would be less likely to believe the crap they read on the food supplement sites.

    In the end it all comes down to trust, and the ability to verify that trust.

  • by fishexe (168879) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @03:03PM (#34608928) Homepage
    from TFA:

    'If you ask most people on the street what causes aging, many would say free radicals, but it's a complex story.'
    —Dr. Siegfried Hekimi, McGill University

    I'm pretty sure if you asked most people on the street what causes aging, a handful would say free radicals, while most would say time or God. Then if you followed up by asking them, "Don't you think it could be free radicals?" their answer would be "WTF are free radicals?"

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @03:17PM (#34609046) Journal

    but I'm fairly sure that if you're living a reasonable lifestyle then genetics completely dominates. After that it's probably as much down to happiness as anything else.

    That's what you get for 'being fairly sure' instead of actually investigating. We've noticed a lot. We've noticed that exercise keeps your telomeres long. [washingtonpost.com] Also important in that study, the more exercise, the longer the telomeres. There are lots of studies like this [bbc.co.uk] that show exercise can reverse the effects of aging. This one is not related to aging directly, but exercise helps you grow new brain cells [nature.com]. Some researchers at Berkeley did a 20 year study of more than 100,000 runners [sfgate.com], and found that the more you run, the longer you live, up to 50 miles a week (the benefits probably extend beyond 50 miles a week, but they couldn't find enough people who run that far to get good numbers). It's pretty clear there are a lot of things you can do to live longer.

    You also may consider reading a book about nutrition, since you likely have some misconceptions in that area, too.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @03:22PM (#34609094) Homepage

    You are free to attempt to bring healthy crackers to the market.

    Yes, and he's free to criticise makers of existing products whether he wants to compete with them or not.

    When they don't sell, or they spoil on the shelves, then you'll understand why the industry is the way it is.

    That doesn't mean that the industry isn't producing crap.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @05:10PM (#34609872)

    If ANY diet made you live significantly longer we'd have noticed by now.

    Two economists are walking down the street. One sees a hundred dollar bill lying on the pavement and bends down to pick it up. "Don't bother," says the other, "if it was real someone would have already picked it up by now."

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