Making Methuselah; The Science of Staying Young; Special Editions; by Karen Hopkin; 6 Page(s)
"Most people are interested in living long and fruitful lives," begins the TV talk-show host, glancing at his notes.
"Fruit is good," interrupts the 2000-Year-Old Man. "Fruit kept me going for 140 years once when I was on a very strict diet. Mainly nectarines. I love that fruit. Half a peach, half a plum. It's a hell of a fruit."
In their classic 1950s comedy routine, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks had at least part of it figured out: we all want to live long and fruitful lives. But the answer may not lie in nectarines.
It may lie in worms. Or, more specifically, in what scientists are learning about longevity as they study organisms as diverse as roundworms, fruit flies, monkeys and humans. Their findings lend hope to those who think we might someday be able to slow the process of human aging. "We can markedly increase the life span of simple organisms," reports Judith Campisi of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Researchers have found mutant worms, for example, that live up to 120 days - that's about six times their normal life span and the equivalent of 500 years for you and me. They have also discovered treatments that can make normal human or animal cells grown in dishes live forever. And they have developed diet regimens that can increase life span while making animals healthier (though not necessarily happier).