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Making 90 the new 40; anti-aging researchers gather in The Villages – Orlando Sentinel

BioBarica Hyperbaric Medical Unit (Photo: Business Wire)
For as long as humans have understood death, we’ve desperately tried to avoid it.
As legend has it, the search for the Fountain of Youth supposedly led Spanish settler Ponce de León all the way to Florida in 1513. Four hundred and some years later, efforts to live longer have evolved beyond myths and found their place in science.
On Nov. 30, researchers assembled a few hundred miles from where de León landed and discussed new breakthroughs in the eternal effort to reverse the clock.
“Ninety will be the new 40 within 10 years. It is very likely that you’re going to be able to live younger for a lot longer,” said Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer and founding chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.
People are more in control of their lifespan than some realize, they say: studies suggest it is only about 10% to 25% predetermined by genes. A person’s environment can even change the way their genes work.
“What you do matters. Your choices count … Many people think if they have five ounces of red meat four times a week there’s no big difference. There is a big difference,” said Roizen.
The scientists gathered at The Villages’ Aviv Clinics, located inside The Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood, for the inaugural meeting of a Global Aging Consortium assembled by Aviv to share and discuss research.
Aviv Clinics, which hosts locations in The Villages and Dubai, focuses on ridding people of aging-related effects and diseases through personalized plans.
“You can be born with genes for Alzheimer’s but … it takes 60, 70 years to get there. It’s the aging process that gives the disease,” said Dr. Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and member of the consortium. “Aging can be targeted. Aging can be delayed, prevented, in some cases stopped and reversed.”
Premature deaths from the No. 1 killer worldwide, cardiovascular disease, are preventable in 80% of cases through lifestyle changes, the World Health Organization calculates.
Right now, there are four main environmental factors that affect how well people age: nutrition, sleep, physical activity, and stress, said consortium member Dr. Eric Verdin, president and chief executive officer of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.
“These are the four domains that most people know about. On top of this, there’s a whole new field of interventions,” Verdin said.
Verdin is researching new drugs that increase lifespan and healthspan in animal models, with the goal of eventually testing some in humans.
Another growing anti-aging trend is hyperbaric oxygen therapy — when a patient breathes pure oxygen at high air pressure in a chamber or suite.
Hyperbaric oxygen centers are scattered throughout Central Florida, including at Aviv Clinics.
It’s well-established that extra oxygen can help the body heal faster and fight certain infections. This therapy has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is often covered by insurance for specific uses including carbon monoxide poisoning and wound healing.
More recent peer-reviewed studies and clinical trials done by the co-founder and chair of Aviv Clinics’ Medical Advisory Board, Shai Efrati, suggest increasing oxygen intake through this protocol can also treat conditions such as cognitive decline or aging. Research expands beyond those domains to help non-elderly people, as well, with clinical trials taking place to see if the treatment assists people with long COVID-19, for example.
The currently available evidence isn’t enough to convince the FDA to authorize hyperbaric oxygen therapy for aging or for the treatment of anything other than a few select conditions, however.
“If you are considering the use of a HBOT device for yourself or a loved one, be aware that some claims of what it can do are unproven,” the FDA’s website notes.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is safe when used as recommended but can cause serious consequences such as lung collapse if not used appropriately, the agency warns.
In addition, the price of some of these more radical anti-aging treatments boxes ordinary people out.
The Aviv Medical Program can cost up to $40-50,000, though Aviv Clinics offers cheaper options through its Aviv Cares program, starting at $2,500, for select financially needy patients.
Its program includes three months of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, daily customized treatments, a battery of assessments, a monitored dietary and fitness plan, and a slew of appointments with professionals.
Verdin is optimistic that within the next 10 to 20 years, the price of these treatments will go down enough that they are accessible to everyone.
“Think about the Tesla Model, where Tesla initially built a $100,000 car, but as they were able to ramp up their production and sell more cars, the car price has been going down progressively,” Verdin said. “When these modalities are proven to function in delaying aging and increasing healthspan and lifespan, they could become very mainstream.”
Ccatherman@orlandosentinel.com; @CECatherman Twitter
Copyright © 2022, Orlando Sentinel
Copyright © 2022, Orlando Sentinel

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