A youth pill? Sold!

July 27, 2010

Guelph Mercury, 10/07/21 100

An anti-aging pill? Really?

Yep. Scientists think they’re on the verge of breakthroughs that could help us live until we’re well into our 100s. Just what we need – a youth pill that can wipe away all of our bad genes, bad eating habits, and bad luck.

And it might be closer than you think. There’s already studies out there suggesting that maybe, possibly, kind of, sort of, we could possibly eventually hopefully create a pill that could delay the effects of aging. Sold!

Some researchers have found that animals whose caloric intake is cut by a third live 30 to 40 per cent longer than animals on a regular diet. Then there’s something called rapamycin, which they think can delay the onset of age-related diseases. There are other drugs, too.

But a real youth pill? Who wouldn’t want that? If there was an anti-aging miracle drug, my softball team sure could use it, as we sit around gripping about our sore backs, pulled hammies and stiff muscles after yet another team of whipper snappers ran circles around us on the ball diamond.

Why, we could all be freaks of nature, like France’s Eugenie Blanchard, the oldest living person on the planet. She’s still kicking after 114 years, though she’s practically blind, extremely weak, and lives in a nursing home. Her secret? She worked as a nun for most of her adult life – so I guess that means no booze, no sex, no cigarettes.

And that sounds about as much fun as taking your mother to prom. If that’s what it takes to make it to triple digits, count me out.

Getting old is as natural as passing gas, but we’re convinced we can cheat our way around it.

We’ve been obsessed with the idea of a magic pill to stop aging since the ancient Greeks told stories of a mystical water source in Ethiopia that gave the people there long lives. Every age has had its take on that story.

Thousands of people still flock to St. Augustine, Fla., each year to sip from its reputed fountain of youth. And here I was thinking seniors liked it for the weather.

As recently as 2006, magician and Claudia Schiffer hypnotist David Copperfield claimed he’d discovered his own fountain of youth, hiding in a string of islands he bought for $50 million near Bahamas. And some people actually believed him.

We want to believe so badly there’s some magic thing out there that can stop aging, a process that happens to every living creature we know. OK, my apologies to all the immortal jellyfish out there who have the ability to revert to their spawn stage, and basically start their life all over again.

But who wants to live as a jellyfish, anyway?

Toronto sports doctor Anthony Galea has been prescribing human growth hormone to patients over 40 for years, claiming HGH reverses the effects of aging. He’s after the same thing that has tantalized explorers through the ages when they set sail for their own fountains of youth.

And that’s great – except Galea looks creepily young for a 51 year old, like that old guy who keeps showing up at high school parties.

And who wants to be that guy, really?

It’s a funny thing, aging. When we’re kids, we can’t wait to be older. When we’re older, we wish we could be young again. But an anti-aging pill? Really?

Greg Mercer is a Guelph-based writer. His column appears Wednesdays. He can be reached at greg_mercer@hotmail.com.

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