Re: Life extension in practice

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Wed Feb 16 2000 - 19:35:48 MST

On Tuesday, February 15, 2000 10:03 PM John Thomas
> >I think that while long term such studies are not perfect, they indicate
> >something. Also, the particular studies I mentioned are not the only
> >There are plenty of short term studies with vitamin C where the variables
> >are controlled much more fully and other factors are measured (e.g.,
> >homocysteine levels in blood) and the lot of these seem to point in the
> >direction of the two I mentioned. Extrapolation is not forbidden...:)
> Long term studies, if not "perfect" (i.e. replicable), prove
> nothing; what they "indicate" is in the mind of the believer.

Not true. Any given study is imperfect. The fact that the UCLA study was
repicable by another independent study (see citations below) shows there is
something there. What it is needs to be studied more closely, but the fact
that both studies point in the same direction is notable.

> Short
> term studies by definition can't tell anything about life extension.
> Extrapolation is not forbidden in science fiction, but in science...?

I disagree here. Granted, short term studies must be handled carefully, but
they do indicate something. Not everything is chaotic nor is everything
nonlinear. If everything was on every scale, then all bets are off period!

That said, remember I qualified my statement in the last paragraph.
Extropolations must be done with care -- else we wind up with predictions
like the world being wall to wall people in X years. But just because
people abuse or, to be charitable, misuse something doesn't mean it can
never be used. In a way, taking aspirin to relieve a headache or for a
heart condition is an extropolation. After all, you are extropolated from
the past (in regards to the headache) to the future (that the headache you
have now can be cured in the same way as the one you had several months or
years ago) or from other studies (in journals, etc.) in which you weren't in
the experimental group to yourself.

Now, I admit, this sort of thing can lead us astray rather quickly with life
extension. Something which might treat, say, a heart condition now might do
cumulative damage to something else over the course of decades of use. But
that's why more studies are done.

And lots of long term animal studies have been done too. (I don't advocate
these, but I'm not going to toss out the data to be spiteful.:) Yes, these
are not humans, but if handled right they can be helpful too, especially if
the same causal mechanisms apply in humans. (This is not always the case,
which is why we must be _very_ careful here. I'm sure others on this list
who have more training and experience with such things can chime in here.:)

> >Also, the mechanisms by which that particular nutrient works are becoming
> >more well known. Ultimately, what one wants is a causal explanation of
> >it works at all. (This is typically how one finds out why it does not
> >in all cases and how one can develop a regimen.)
> Your first two sentences appear to contradict each other and I
> don't understand your third. Maybe it's just me.

They do not. If X% of the individuals in a study benifit from the
supplement and the rest don't, that means, to me, that there are other
factors involved -- barring experimental error. If an adequate causal
explanation is found, usually this explains why there is variability in
results. If it does not, I submit the explanation is not adequate.:)
Knowing why is better than knowing that in most cases.

> Please cite the peer-reviewed studies that appeared in
> professional journals.

The first study I mentioned was in _Epidemiology_ 1992. The second was in
_American Journal of Clinical Nutrition_ 1996. These are not the only
studies I can cite. I urge interested readers to use MedLine and browse and search the archives of this list and CryoNet for Doug
Skrecky posts.

One must also be careful even of journals. One must be careful of the
methodologies used. A recent study of vitamin E did not specify the type
used and the fact that the property being studied -- its use in treating
heart disease -- was also being treated aggressively in the control group by
a perscription drug. Ergo, the fact that there was little variation between
survival rates in both groups can probably be accounted for by the fact that
whatever vitamin E does was swamped by the effects of the perscription drug.

> "Prevention" and news articles don't count.

I've never read an issue of _Prevention_. (Nothing against it, but I've
never read it.:) I do read news items -- who doesn't? -- but I always treat
them with skepticism given the Media's penchant for sensationalism and short
memory. (By the latter is meant that rarely do such stories cover more than
one study. Only the latest one is used as if it were in complete isolation
from everything else in the universe. This is why one week a given
supplement is a miracle cure for everything, the next it's the worst poison
you can purchase without a license.:)

Anywya, it is good to see repartee is alive and well on Extropy list. I
would hate to see all of us arguing logically.:) That would be boring.

> >Also, remember, my original post in this thread was _not_ in advocacy of
> >popping pills, but of a broad spectrum, informed approach to life
> >My goal -- and I hope the goal of all or many of you reading this -- is
> >live longer, healthier, and happier -- not merely to adhere to some
> >of self-medication.:)
> I actually take vitamins myself (just bought more ester-C today)
> because I've never heard of a reputable study showing that anything I
> take is *harmful*,

I have, but Thomas can consider it an exercise in his consultation of the
peer-reviewed journals to find out where.:)

> and I can afford to waste the money if they don't
> really help. I'm still waiting for the research that will "prove"
> any vitamin supplement to be helpful for anything, but I remain
> (forgive me Robert Owen) a hopeful agnostic.

Fair enough. Each must judge for her-/him-/it-self.


Daniel Ust
    See why I was a teenage tar water user and pusher:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:03:50 MDT