Friday, February 1, 2008

Young Blood

Could it be that my baby bone marrow is a fountain of youth?

I read two articles this week about aging and exercise. Both basically said that exercise slows the aging process, which isn't all that surprising. However, the one that really fascinated me discussed how exercise seems to influence aging at the cellular level. Researchers compared the length of something called telomeres in the white blood cells of active and inactive adults. Telomeres are sections of DNA at the end of chromosomes, and they shorten as a person ages. Inactive adults have shorter telomeres than active adults, suggesting their cells age and die off at a faster rate. The researchers concluded that adults who are physically active are biologically younger than sedentary individuals by up to ten years. All I can say is: Woot!

My excitement isn't due to the fact that I am a slave to exercise. No, I'm wondering if my five-month-old white blood cells with their long telomeres further reduce my biological age. This would be a good thing because having leukemia probably shaved decades off my life at a psychological level and the chemo no doubt undid all the positive effects of my exercise regimen over the years. For all I know, I have the internal organs of a 90-year-old.

Let's do the math: Exercise gave me 10 years (I'll be generous), Leukemia stole 20, baby bone marrow gives me another 10. Hey, I'm still 54.

Gotta run ...

1 comment:

sem said...

That sounds like new math to me - I like it.

A quote from Edith Wharton I've been meaning to send is especially apropos:

"In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual age of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.