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Canada Medicine Science

Free Radicals May Not Be Cause of Aging 371

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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  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @12:49PM (#34607874)


    "This goes against claims of major health benefits from consuming foods and particularly supplements that contain antioxidants."/quote?

    Good thing that worms in a lab are so biologically analogous to humans. Time to stop eating tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach

    I stopped doing that decades ago after I grew up and couldn't be forced to eat them. Now I look at my friends who are vegetarians, and am shocked at how old they look compared to my mostly meat-eating self.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Niedi ( 1335165 ) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @01:12PM (#34608098)
    A lot of proteins in these worms really are, but still, it's insane to jump at these conclusions so quickly...

    The article here also has a link to a paper of him from 2009 which seems to be about mice, but then again it's in a low-impact-factor journal. Since his findings would be of great interest for a broad audience this might be a sign of shabby/incomplete research (interesting enough for a big paper but not good enough)...

    Can't say more before I'm on a computer with access to the journal to actually read it though.
  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Dasuraga ( 1147871 ) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @02:26PM (#34608670)
    I dunno about most people, but I'll buy organic sometimes because it's usually indicative of a more sustainable farming process. I couldn't care less about the "all natural" part, but I do care about promoting intelligent usage of the (limited) resources on the planet.

    Then again I'll be dead before it becomes a problem so what do I care.
  • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @02:50PM (#34608820)

    PUFAs are unstable, oxidize spontaneously when introduced to a human body, and generally wreck havoc in a warm-blooded mammalian systems (fish need these thin oils because they live in cold water). No amount of anti-oxidants is enough to counter the damage done by rancid oils.

    [citation needed]

    Seriously, you can't just spout something like that and expect us to take your word for it. Is even a single link too much work?

  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Informative)

    by SpeZek ( 970136 ) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @03:18PM (#34609058) Journal

    most organic producers follow some (if not all) of those rules.)

    Nope, they don't.

    Organic doesn't mean grown without fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, or preservatives. Not at all. All fruits and vegetables are grown with all three in the process.

    The only difference is that the fertilizer, instead of being processed, enhanced, guaranteed free of disease, or synthesized, is all-natural manure, with all the possible contaminants contained within. The pesticides are all-natural, 100 year old recipes, with all of their possible health-effects and negative environmental impact that have been weeded out of modern, synthetic pesticides. The preservatives are, again, all natural, with all of the health issues and contaminant issues and, well, preservation issues, that modern preservatives are always striving to eliminate.

    Organic food is almost all grown the exact same was as regular food: on large, industrial farms, in large volumes, for a profit. The only difference is that the expense of Organic food comes from the limited supply (due to demand as well as a higher rate of spoilage), while the expense of normal food comes from making it better, cheaper, and safer.

  • Free Full Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by reverseengineer ( 580922 ) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @03:18PM (#34609062)
    The relevant journal article is available for free right now here [].

    One thing that should be pointed out is that this article is in the January 2010 issue, and was initially published online in September 2009, so this isn't breaking news, though it looks like research may have continued in the same lab following this paper- there's no reference t paraquat in the paper, for instance. Another, which is touched on in the news article is that the scientists involved do not dispute that reactive oxygen species can have deleterious effects on living organisms- just that aging is not a process of mitochondria being injured by ROS. Their conclusion spells it out:

    It is difficult to doubt that mitochondria play a key role in the aging process [67, 68]. However, although it is well documented that irreversible oxidative damage accumulates during aging [69], it seems that the MFRTA’s core statement that postulates that aging is triggered by the detrimental action of ROS produced during normal metabolism is simply wrong. It is not yet clear whether aging has a single cause or whether such a notion is misguided. In any case, the correlation between the presence of oxidative damage and the aged phenotype simply does not imply causation. Oxidative stress might be the consequence of aging, if aging indeed has some discrete cause, or causes, distinct from oxidative stress [40]. Alternatively, oxidative stress might result from the failure of one particular maintenance system of the organism and thus participate in causing aging, but no more, as is often proposed in multicausal or unifying theories of aging [3–6]. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that it could not be beneficial to health to counteract the deleterious effects induced by ROS, at least in pathological situations. However, any intervention will nonetheless have to be very critically evaluated as clearly revealed by the antioxidant supplementation trials and in light of the increasing number of studies showing the crucial roles of ROS in cellular signaling.

  • by fishexe ( 168879 ) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @03:36PM (#34609182) Homepage

    Not true at all. Saturated fats don't cause heart attacks,

    Seriously? The link between increased saturated fat consumption and increased risk of coronary disease is one of the most well-established findings of modern dietary science.

    there aren't any studies that show otherwise.

    Just to start []. It's only page one and over half of them show statistically significant links. You can say there are new studies that cast doubt on these results, or you can say there are methodological problems with these studies that make their results less valid, but to claim there aren't any studies showing the link is both false and irresponsible.

  • by realxmp ( 518717 ) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @03:41PM (#34609218)

    You don't need to remove the TTL, just reset it every fifty years or so.

    A drug that restores the telomeres in each cell could be applied when needed, and then the telomeres would be shortened again at each cell division in the normal way.

    There exists such a chemical, it's an enzyme it's called telomerase and it is actually active in a significant proportion of cells in the body. Either way the situation is far more nucanced than just the telomeres.

  • Re:Well... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 19, 2010 @04:02PM (#34609376)

    Manure isn't fertilizer. Composed manure is. Parasites and diseases of mammals do not live through the many months long process of composting. The only things you would find in it are already found in the same dirty soil that all plants are grown in.

    Nothing you just said made sense. In short, shut up and/or get a clue.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by SpeZek ( 970136 ) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @04:21PM (#34609516) Journal
    Organic farming uses organic pesticides and preservatives.
  • by Steeltoe ( 98226 ) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @06:04PM (#34610268) Homepage

    Organic food is almost all grown the exact same was as regular food: on large, industrial farms, in large volumes, for a profit. The only difference is that the expense of Organic food comes from the limited supply (due to demand as well as a higher rate of spoilage), while the expense of normal food comes from making it better, cheaper, and safer.

    Are you trolling, or just ignorant? Most people don't know what organic food is, but if you're going to make an argument about it, why not educate yourself on the subject first rather than just spout your own prejudices for everyone on the internet to read?

    Food quality has been on a steady decline. Poisons and hormone-mimickers in food are steadily going up while nutrients like minerals and vitamins are going down. Read the studies about it and wonder why this is so, all while buying cheaper food in larger quantities. The long list doesn't end there however, the earth itself is being drained of nutrients due to unhealthy mono-culture and non-stop farming each and every year. For many farmers, this is more important, so there is a big shift today to organic farming, just because of the higher sustainable development factor. If we destroy the earth, famine is not too far away. If we destroy nature or cut outself out from it too much, we may have to turn to genetic engineering to be able to sustain healthy bodies, always fighting new unknown diseases, not a very pleasant prospect except for the medical industry.

    Organic farming can be many different ways, with the more extreme end being biodynamic farming. It is true that you can have large farms producing roughly the same yield as "modern farms", at least if you compare nutrients. Many people have the opinion that you can eat less of organic foods, and still feel satiated. So less yield does not necessarily mean less food.

    This clockwork-universe mentality that everything to food and life is about proteins, minerals, vitamins, and this obsession of getting rid of dirt and bugs, is well, an hypothesis without basis in nature. Many people believe that there is more to food than what we can measure in its quantities. Life is certainly about more than its parts. If you lack this understanding, you've been living in the city for too long. It's clouding your judgement, so time to take a break off media and city, find some new fresh perspectives in nature.

    Why Organic? (Quite interesting introduction) []

    Top 10 Reasons for Organic Farming (Showing that the soil and environment is given more importance) []

    Btw, IANAF (I Am Not A Farmer), however, I know there is alot to organic farming and sustainable development, than our prejudices. Currently living outside major cities, and it does bring a different perspective to life than endless visits to cafes and caffe lattes.

    Before you condemn something, at least give it a fair shot first, hmm?

  • by Genda ( 560240 ) <> on Monday December 20, 2010 @05:59AM (#34613954) Journal


    I'm an engineer, amateur scientist, and advocate for organic farming.

    Many of the chemicals used in pesticides (pyrethroids, organophosphates, carbamates, etc.) have been clearly determined to be: Human Carcinogens, Mutagens, Abortives, Hormone Analogs, Irritants and Toxins (particularly Neurotoxins.) As a chemist and biologist, I'm certain you can understand just how bloody difficult it is to make a chemical that kills one class of invertebrates (Insecta), and has virtually no impact whatsoever on any other class. I'd be more than happy to sit down and discuss absorption, uptake, metabolism, cytotoxicity, the most common effects and their biological mechanism of any of these chemicals. I would also be happy to talk about their impact and biological pathways on micro and macrofauna including Fish, Bird, Reptile, and Mammalian species (and let's not forget Homo Sapiens.) Though a quick look at the impact of these chemicals on a wide variety of species (eg. DDT on the Brown Pelican and Peregrine Falcon), and the statistical information surrounding the dramatic increase of Cancer, Miscarriage, Birth Defect, Neurological Disease and Negative Childhood Epidemiology among farm workers (age, sex, race, and economically normalized for fair comparison), should provide sufficient evidence to make any open minded scientists more than a wee bit uncomfortable with spraying these chemical all over the scenery and particularly the watershed for much of this country.

    This is not emotional. This is simple science. Like the mistaken agricultural misuse of antibiotics to increase animal health and yield, in fact producing nothing more than super-colonies of antibiotic resistant bacteria for miles surrounding such farms. You speak of emotion. There is an equally emotion-based use of the magic of modern chemistry to solve problems whose solutions themselves become the new problems. Case in point, this is as much a magical thinking, superstitious problem as any "Being afraid of chemicals." There are thousands of places on the planet, where the trade-off in human suffering demands extraordinary measures. Killing off a plague of malarial mosquitoes immediately jumps to mind. Using the chemical equivalent of an atom bomb to make you fruit prettier however, seems to me, a poor use of this technology. Let's "Right Size" our chemical arsenal, and save the extreme solution for the extreme circumstances.

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