Book: Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever

A really readable book by Bill Gifford.  While it usually takes me weeks or sometimes months to read a long semi-technical book, this one I read in two days (January 10-11, 2016 if you must know).

Disclaimer: these notes are primarily for the purpose of reminding me about certain passages in the book so I can refer back to it if I need to.  As such I regard this material as the property of the author of the book, though I usually paraphrase what they wrote in the interest of brevity.  I present it here primarily to encourage you to buy the book!
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Ray’s Notes
Prologue: The Elixir…page xi
p ix-xvi Charles Edwards Brown-Sequard the 1st was the first scientist to experiment with anti-aging by grinding up and injecting dog testicles into himself.  This seemed to work, but it was later hypothesized to be a placebo effect.
Chapter 1:  Brothers…page 1
p 6 The oldest living epic, the Epic of Gilgamesh, was written 4,000 years ago.  In part it chronicles a man’s quest for immortality.  Gutenberg copy.
Chapter 2:  The Age of Aging…page 15
p 21  James Vaupel graph shows female life expectancy increasing at 2.4 years per decade for the last 200 years.  Example of life expectancy increases in England and Wales since 1700.
p 22  James Vaupel published this data in Science in 2002, including the fact that after 1950 those over 65 increasing survival is what drove it (earlier it was primarily the young) (see previous example).
p 24  Jay Olshansky believes these increases longevity is about to plunge.  He feels we have ‘used’ about all the life extension improvements that are possible.
p 25-6  He also says average age will plateau at about 85.  Even if we cure heart disease, stroke and cancer we will gain only 10 years in average lifespan.
p 28  % of females who never exercise has tripled since 1994, from 19% to almost 60%.  Note that I am a bit skeptical as to how solid this data is, because of course the average age has also increased and if that isn’t factored into this value, the age-adjusted value is a lot lower.
p 34  100,000 people per day die of aging
p 35  risk of dying doubles ever 8 years
p 37  NIH spends just $40 million a year on aging research
p 38  Ezekiel Emanuel says he wants to die at 75 (in the Atlantic) because he wanted to avoid the increases in disability that comes with old age, there was a fierce backlash.
Chapter 3: The Fountain of Youthiness…page 41
p 48  giving women estrogen after 60 accelerates aging problems
p 56  HGH may accelerate aging
p 58  Holly Brown-Borg discovered longest living lab mice: the Ames Dwarf who have no growth hormone receptors in their cells!
p 62-3  Alex Comfort, UK gerontologist, says if we kept same resistance to stress, injury & diseases we had at 10, we’d live to 700
p 64  heterochronic parabiosis is rats lived 4-5 months longer than non-heterochronic parabiosis rats
Chapter 4:  Yours Sincerely, Wasting Away…Page 66
p 72  height loss during aging due to water loss between disks
p 76  we slow down as we age because of cellular problems
p 81  Those with lower blood pressure, LDL, BMI and blood glucose in their 40s & 50s had a better chance of living to 85
Chapter 5:  How to Live to 108 Without Really Trying…Page 82
p 89  only 1 in 10,000 reach 100 years old
p 91  someone who dies at 100 will only have 1/3 the medical bills of someone who dies at 70!
p 93  Role of genes in aging is 20% up to 85.  After that you need to inherit healthy genes.
p 94  Many very old have CETP inhibitor genes; it turns out the less CETP you have the better off you are.  This raises the amount of HDL (good) cholesterol.
Chapter 6:  The Heart of the Problem…Page 97
p 99  Bill Vaughan runs a basement lab on aging (note: Bill was a friend of mine, and I was very sad when he passed away May 6, 2019.  He was a pioneer in self-administration of aging treatments.)
p 101  $1,300 blood analyzer
p 102  Centenarians have LDL around 35!!!  (anything less than 100 is considered good)
p 105  Statins lower cholesterol, but not death rate
p 108  Cholesterol should focus on Apolipoprotein B, which should be less than 90
p 110  Carnitine from meat is metabolized to a chemical called TMAO that causes atherosclerosis.
Chapter 7:  Baldness as Metaphor…Page 117
p 119  Dr. George Cotsarelis is a leader in the science of hair regeneration
p 121  Prostaglandin D2 inhibits hair follicle growth
p 121  Hair follicles’ stem cells remain intact but go dormant with age.
p 125  Antagonist pleiotropy first developed by George Williams in 1957
p 133  Possums hard to raise in lab conditions
p 133  Icelandic clam lived to be 507 years old
p 135  Long lives animals’ cells withstand stress better
Chapter 8:  The Lives of Our Cells…Page 137
p 145-6  discovery of telomeres
p 146  IL6 increases with age and is a clear marker of increasing aging rate
p 151  a biopsy of a 90-year-old will have many dividing cells
p 151  senescent cells give off a lot of inflammatory cytokines
p 152  @ injury sites cells go senescent which leads to inflammation
p 153  Long term cancer survivors increase their aging rate
p 154  Mice cleared of senescent cells partly rejuvenated
Chapter 9:  Phil vs. Fat…Page 156
p 162  adiponectin, produced by fat, appears to control metabolism and may protect against some cancers.  Jewish centenarians often have higher levels than normal
p 164-5  surgically remove abdominal fat from obese mice = 20% lifespan gain
p 169  450 pound guy stopped eating for 382 days!  His weight went down to 180
Chapter 10:  Pole Vaulting into Eternity…Page 173
p 176  The anti-inflammable diet avoids foods like dairy, wheat and sugar which helps fight inflammation.
p 180  Old men in the 1950s house were rejuvenated by living in an ‘old fashioned’ environment.
p 182  Exercise just as effective as drugs at staving off death from heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
p 186  Between 50-70 you will have a 15% decrease in muscle mass ever decade.  After 70 it goes up to 30% decrease.
p 192  Intense exercises triggers autophagy
p 194  Resistance exercise can cause old muscles to revert to younger gene expression
p 200  Even genetically programmed couch potato mice can be forced to exercise and end up liking it
Chapter 11:  Starving for Immortality…Page 202
p 203  Alvise Cornaro went on a starvation diet 500 years ago, worked to keep him alive into his 80s
p 206  Clive McCay published his rat “starvation” paper in 1935 in the Journal of Nutrition
p 208  Roy Walford got interested in aging in the 1940s
p 212  Book The Human Experiment: 2 Years Inside Biosphere 2 by Jane Poyneter
p 216  SIR2 gene optimizes cell function when there is not much food available
p 217  David Sinclair (in 2003) found SIRTuin genes could be turned on with resveratrol
Chapter 12:  What Doesn’t Kill You…Page 228
p 230  Todd Becker blog.  (
p 230  Todd Becker spends half an hour every day doing eye exercises, and tossed his glasses as a result (note: he is 57)
p 234  Cold water exposure can activate brown fat, this will burn white fat and make more brown fat
p 240+  1954 Denham Harman researches ROS (reactive oxygen species)
p 243  2009 Michael Ristow showed anti-oxidants are bad for you
p 244+  Mice with no antioxidant enzymes live just as long as normal
p 245+  Naked mole rats: no cancer!
p 250+  Naked mole rats mortality rate does not follow the Gompertz law.  Gene expression profile does not change with age.  They have negligible senescence.
Chapter 13:  Fast Forward…Page 252
p 254  In the 1940s Frederick Hoelzel found feeding every other day got about the same result as calorie restriction
p 254  In the 1950s a Spanish nursing home did a test; 60 fed normally and 60 fed partial every-other day feeding (half the normal calories one day, 50% more the next).  Over the next 3 years 6 of the alternate day feeders had died vs 13 in the ‘normal’ group.
p 255  alternate day fasting appears to clear up asthma
p 256  alternate day fasting appears to have better brain function
p 256  only 10% of people can do caloric restriction.  Fasting is 40%.
p 258+  Calorie restriction shuts down TOR, causing cells to clean up junk and they don’t make as many new proteins.
p 260+  fasting cells are more stress resistant…unless they are cancerous!  So chemotherapy works better when fasting.
p 262+  Steptomyces hygroscopicus is the Easter Island bacteria that produces rapamycin (named for Rapa Nuii, which is the native name for Easter Island).
p 263  Rapamycin was approved in 1999 to prevent transplant rejection
p 264  Rapamycin extends maximum lifespan in mice by 9% for males and 14% for females
p 264  Rapamycin causes degeneration in the testicles
p 264-5  Rapamycin slows tendon aging and it reverses cardiac aging in mice.
p 265  Mice (above) were given 3 months of rapamycin treatment
p 266  Mikhail Blagosklonny thinks that aging is cause by too much cellular productivity
p 268  Blagosklonny has been taking rapamycin regularly
p 270  Laron little people have no growth-hormone receptors.
p 271  They do not die of cancer and do not get diabetes, and do not die of diseases of old age.
p 272  Calories stimulates insulin production which stimulates IGF-1 which stimulates TOR which increases protein production and growth of cells.
p 272  High protein diets (ie lots of meats) may be as bad for you as high carbohydrate diets (ie lots of starches, breads and sugars)
p 272  people who ate 10% of their calories or less protein decreased their cancer rate by 75%
p 274  Longo’s diet: skip lunch and then for dinner dinner = low protein plant-based vegan-ish diet to push down his IGF-1 levels; 4 times a year he nearly fasts for 4 days
Chapter 14:  Who Moved My Keys?…Page 275
p 275  Health Extension Salon is a bay area club interested in aging research
p 278  Loose 10% of neurons and 25% of synapses of lifetime
p 282  Those who use their brains more after age 40 delay memory loss by 10 years
p 283  Jet lag ages you
p 283  Half of all Alzheimer’s cases can be prevented
p 285  Transchronic parabiosis: young mice on old blood have reduced protection and renewal of neurons–and old mice on young blood…have the opposite.
p 287  Young blood regenerates marrow and bone too
p 288  GDF-11 can be purchased
Epilogue:  The Death of Death…Page 291
p 292+  Janko Nikolich-Zugich is a leading immune aging scientist
p 296  New thymus has been grown in old mice
Appendix:  Things That Might Work
p 307  Resveratrol
p 309  Red wine & alcohol
p 310  Coffee
p 311  Curcumin
p 312  “Life Extension Mix” is a mix of vitamins.  Unfortunately testing in mice decreased lifespan!
p 312  Metformin
p 314  Vitamin D
p 315  Aspirin and ibuprofen
p 316  Kale  ??

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