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A Valuable Lesson

As promised, I’m going to pass on a valuable lesson from Dr. Pete Hilgartner.

What is your first reaction to a crisis? Let’s say you get diagnosed with a serious illness. First your heart skips a beat and then thunders like a jackhammer. Maybe you break out in a cold sweat. Then when reality sets in, do you retreat? Do you roll up in a fetal position, pull the covers over your head and hope your problems disappear? Do you tend to sleep more, head for the liquor cabinet or pray harder than you had in years?

How about when you life’s savings gets wiped out overnight due to mismanagement, theft, the economy or just by hard luck?

Or what do you do when the economy slows down, and your customers’ orders slow to a trickle, or you get laid off?

What about when all the real estate equity you built over the years vanishes overnight?

Time to retreat, right? Batten down the hatches. Cut expenses. Downsize. Deprive yourself until things get better. That’s what most people do, and that’s one reason the press tells you our economy sucks.

What if there was a better way to handle crises? Well there is. In fact there are two. The first is offered up by Dr. Pete. The second by yours truly.

Dr. Pete is a fascinating guy and a successful student of life. He was very sickly as a child, way sicker than most people could tolerate. But his illnesses motivated him to set lofty goals. He decided to win an Olympic gold metal, to become an officer in the Marine Corps and to become a physician. He was well on his way to a shot at the gold when his aching back tripped him up. So he joined the Marines and later became a successful physician.

The Marines taught him one of life’s great lessons. They taught him how to survive an ambush.

Capt. Pete survived six ambushes in fact. He realized he survived them the same way he survived his childhood injuries and the same way he’s surviving today’s economic climate. When you’re ambushed, the Marines teach you to head for an escape route. But what is there is none? What do you do when the enemy closes off all escape? Then you make yourself as small a target as possible, right? Wrong!

If you want to escape, to survive, you do the counter-intuitive. You do the unexpected. You expand… and attack. But don’t just sort of expand. Expand with decisiveness, purpose, order and with a plan. Play offense instead of defense. Overcome your fear and take the fight to the enemy. Dr. Pete and most of the company he commanded live today because of that one critical lesson.

Have you noticed that when people are filled with fear, they tend to withdraw? They stop communicating. If they do communicate, it’s usually to complain about how bad things are. When you’re down, be a beacon of optimism. Take charge of your situation. Every cell in your body will react and rally you to your recovery.

Can you force yourself to expand, when every fiber of your existence wants to do what everyone else is doing; succumbing and contracting to fear? Yes, you can!

I have another way to not only survive, but to prosper as well. It’s your surest path to sound health and longevity. In a word, it’s “prevention”. Expand now, and avoid your ambushes. Head off disease and illness by taking precautionary measures now and forever.

It’s a well-known fact that people will go to the ends of the earth searching for cures but will ignore preventative measures. Terminal diseases and what is happening now are concretes. The threat of disease and the future are abstracts. So we live for the moment while internal time bombs tick away. Sooner or later, one catches up with you. And more often than not, it’s too late. If you catch it early enough and/or expand and attack, you have a chance to beat it back. But not all of Capt. Pete’s soldiers got out alive.

Will tomorrow’s technologies obsolete death from aging and other diseases? I’m certain of it. Will we all live to see the day? Unfortunately, no. And most of those who miss the extreme longevity boat will miss it because of inattention to prevention. Some will make it because they will expand when their crisis catches up with them. But with so much at stake, why roll the dice? Play to win, not to not lose. Expand right now, before it’s too late.

Now getting back to reacting to a health crisis. I’m afraid I have some terrible news for you. You have a terminal disease that no one has ever survived. You were born with it, and you too will die from it – unless you improve your odds by expanding and by preventing. It’s called aging. Instead of complaining about it, or even joking about it, for the first time in history, you can actually do something about it. One contribution many of us can make is supporting the research that will conquer the effects of aging while you are still alive. The other is simply taking a proactive approach to your health to keep yourself alive until emerging medical miracles will give you a new lease on life.


The Most Important Research (November 07 2008)
From the Exchange Morning Post, a statist, public funding viewpoint on longevity science: "Learning how to turn back time - or at least how to slow the aging process - may be more important for improving our overall health than the discovery of a cure for cancer. There are real, tangible benefits, for society as well as individuals, to slowing down the aging process. 'By extending the life span, people would remain in the workforce longer, personal income and savings would increase, age entitlement programs would face less pressure from shifting demographics, and national economies would flourish'. Almost half of the current population over 75 years old is limited in their activity by chronic conditions, with costs to society set to rise dramatically. Given the current predicament we face, we can't ignore the call to tackle aging more aggressively. To those who ask: 'Can we really afford to invest more in such research?' we can reply: 'Can we really afford not to tackle aging?' The greatest obstacle will be convincing the general public that slowing the aging process is both feasible and deserving of a larger share of the funds available for scientific research."

An Overview of Cryonics (November 07 2008)
A good article on cryonics from Engineering and Technology: "The field of cryonics, which made its debut in the 1960s, continues to push the envelope and search for a solution to death. The process consists of preserving legally dead humans or pets at very low temperature (below -130C) in the hope that future science can restore them to life, youth, and health. The advancement of medicine and science is so much faster than it used to be. Science fiction is becoming science fact on a daily basis. All of a sudden, cryonics doesn't look quite so far-fetched. Most cryonicists believe reanimations will occur within 50 to 100 years for those currently being cryopreserved. Within that time frame, virtually all current diseases should be curable and elderly people can probably be rejuvenated to a youthful condition. With full disclosures and signed consent, [cryonics] is highly ethical. When you think about the grand scheme of things, cryonics is a lot more conservative than burial or conventional cremation. Tissue preserved at the temperature of liquid nitrogen does not deteriorate, even after centuries of storage. Therefore, if current medical technology can’t keep us alive, we can instead choose to be preserved in liquid nitrogen, with the expectation that future medical technology should be able to reverse any cryopreservation injury and restore good health.

Cells as Vectors for Targeted Therapies (November 06 2008)
The possibilities of bioengineering are endless, and one of the most energetic branches of the research community is involved in developing methods of precisely targeting therapies: "MIT engineers have outfitted cells with tiny 'backpacks' that could allow them to deliver chemotherapy agents, diagnose tumors or become building blocks for tissue engineering. The polymer backpacks allow researchers to use cells to ferry tiny cargoes and manipulate their movements using magnetic fields. Since each patch covers only a small portion of the cell surface, it does not interfere with the cell's normal functions or prevent it from interacting with the external environment. Researchers worked with B and T cells, two types of immune cells that can home to various tissues in the body, including tumors, infection sites, and lymphoid tissues - a trait that could be exploited to achieve targeted drug or vaccine delivery. The researchers found that T cells with backpacks were able to perform their normal functions, including migrating across a surface, just as they would without anything attached. By loading the backpacks with magnetic nanoparticles, the researchers can control the cells' movement with a magnetic field."

Towards a Rejuvenated Thymus (November 06 2008)
One approach to the issue of declining naive T-cells with age - and consequence failure of the immune system - is to boost production by manipulating the thymus: "a key gene may be crucial to maintaining the production of the thymus and its disease-fighting T-cells after an animal's birth. The discovery could help scientists find out how to turn the thymus back on so it could produce T-cells long after it normally shuts down most of its function, which, for humans, occurs by early adulthood. If the finding leads to further ways to manipulate the gene, the result could be a new avenue for the body to fight disease more effectively as the body ages. Such things as infectious diseases, inflammation and heart problems are all related to immune response. You don't have to think far to see how understanding the effect of this gene could affect the quality of life for older people and others as well. If [physicians] were able selectively to turn T-cell production back on, then many diseases that currently afflict older people could become manageable if not, in cases, entirely absent."

Boosting the Aging Immune System (November 05 2008)
Many research groups are working on ways to boost the effectiveness of an exhausted immune system - due to either chronic viral infection or aging - without necessarily aiming to address the root causes: "In contrast to most normal somatic cells, which show little or no telomerase activity, immune cells up-regulate telomerase in concert with activation. Nevertheless, during aging and chronic HIV-1 infection, there are high proportions of dysfunctional [immune cells] with short telomeres. Exposure of CD8(+) T lymphocytes from HIV-infected human donors to a small molecule telomerase activator (TAT2) modestly retards telomere shortening, increases proliferative potential, and, importantly, enhances cytokine/chemokine production and antiviral activity. The enhanced antiviral effects were abrogated in the presence of a potent and specific telomerase inhibitor, suggesting that TAT2 acts primarily through telomerase activation. Our study is the first to use a pharmacological telomerase-based approach to enhance immune function."

Incremental Improvements in Scaffolding (November 03 2008)
From the MIT Technology Review: "Engineering heart tissue presents particularly tough problems for researchers, since the heart is an active organ. Scaffolds designed for other kinds of tissues did not have the right mechanical properties for heart tissue. Heart tissue must be flexible enough to change shape as the heart contracts, but also strong enough to withstand the intense forces generated by these contractions. The researchers designed the scaffold to encourage cells to align themselves in the same direction to better mimic this property of natural heart muscle tissue. Using a laser cutting technique, they created a pattern of oblong holes in the polymer; the result is a flexible, honeycomb-like structure that is stiffer in one direction than another. Just as rowers line up in one direction to propel a boat forward, 'all the heart muscle cells in a given region have to be lined up and contracting in the same direction' in order for the heart to beat efficiently. The honeycomb-like scaffold [represents] a 'substantial jump' toward that goal. If we had a biodegradable biomaterial, which had beating heart cells, we might be able to return function to [damaged parts] of the heart."

A General Interest Calorie Restriction Article (November 03 2008) the science advances, these articles get more positive. Recall the ridicule heaped upon the practice of calorie restriction even just a few years ago. "Some people are doing it strictly to enhance longevity. Others do it to avoid age-related disease, or because they already have diabetes, high cholesterol or clogged arteries and want to clean up their bodies by using diet. In rich countries, 90 percent of the population probably eats, on average, about 50 percent too much. Even if they were to reduce their calorie intake by half, they would still only be at baseline. A wealth of scientific evidence has confirmed that maintaining that balance helps prevent type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. But experiments with both animals and humans have also shown that pushing one's calorie intake 10 to 20 percent below that baseline threshold -- without lowering nutrients -- may provide additional health advantages. Will this add 10 years to your life? Nobody knows. But one thing is sure -- calorie restriction will help you reach your maximum lifespan potential, which is different for all of us depending on our genetic profile."

This post first appeared on Maximum Life Foundation, please read the originial post: here

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A Valuable Lesson


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