Diet it seems is a major contributory factor.An experiment with the worms proves that sugar turns on a genetic sequence that increases the amount of insulin produced by an organism, which in turn causes the body to demand more sugar. This increases damage to cells in the body, speeding up the slow degradation of cells that contribute to aging. Red wine and green tea have been shown to help repair cells and contribute to an increased lifespan.
The most significant finding is that the worms remained vigorous till until the very end of their extended lives. In human terms it would mean that a person would remain young for decades, growing old very slowly. It also suggests a radical new method for treating maladies of aging such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and some cancers, which might be put off or eliminated if youth is extended. ‘Age is the single largest risk factor for an enormous number of diseases,’ says Kenyon. ‘So if you can essentially postpone aging, then you can have beneficial effects on a whole wide range of disease.’
When asked whether it was possible to be immortal Kenyon says ‘I think it might be possible. I’ll tell you why. You can think about the life span of a cell being the integral of two vectors in a sense, the force of destruction and the force of prevention, maintenance and repair. In most animals the force of destruction has still got the edge. But why not bump up the genes just a little bit, the maintenance genes. All you have to do is have the maintenance level a little higher. It doesn’t have to be much higher. It just has to be a little higher, so that it counterbalances the force of destruction. And don’t forget, the germ lineage is immortal. So it’s possible at least in principle.’