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Possible Key To A Longer Life?
April 10, 2007 17:43

Food, enriched with heavy isotopes of carbon and hydrogen, extends life by promoting synthesis of biological structures with high resistance to ageing processes. The hypothesis proved to be true in experiments on worms, however, authors hope further studies would help making human life longer and lowering risks of cancer and other diseases, threatening old people.

Mikhail Shchepinov, the research fellow of Moscow Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, who is currently performing research in Oxford Unversity, has given food with high concentration of natural heavy isotopes – deuterium 2H and carbon 13C to nematodes (possibly Caenorhabditis elegans). As a result worms’ life duration grew longer on average 10%, which is 7-10 years on human time scale.

The author claims that assimilation of food with heavy isotopes, which contain heavier atoms and are more inert, lead to synthesis of DNA, proteins, lipids and other biological molecules with stronger chemical bonds between hydrogen and carbon, and, therefore, with higher resistance to various hazardous phenomena, such as free radical oxidation, for instance.

However, toxicity of heavy water for higher organisms is a well-known fact. Heavy carbon (notice that we are talking about radioactive 14C isotope) is one of main DNA damage factors (some authors tend to say the one and only factor) intensifying ageing processes and leading to death.


The author of another brave hypothesis of fighting ageing processes suggests substituting common hydrogen with its heavier isotope, deuterium 2H, thus slowing oxidation processes in biologically active molecules to prevent formation of harmful amounts of heavy water as a result of dissipation of complex molecules. Heavy isotopes can get into the organism as essential amino acids, which would embed into proteins and protect them from oxidation stress. Situation with deoxyribonucleic acid is a bit more complicated, however, Mikhail Shchepinov claims fasting may somehow help heavy nucleic acids to penetrate cell membranes and get inside chromosomes.

Of course, the author doesn’t suggest eating a tablespoon of ordinary chemical substances or taking a pill with amino acids, nucleotides and fatty acids. The scientist sees possible solution in feeding farm livestock with isotope containing foods, and their meat will supply abovementioned elements to human body (not a word about vegetarians, though – the researcher might be thinking they live long enough without any additional help).


Experts in ageing processes consider using natural isotopes for longer life to be a brilliant idea, however, they recommend further studies for proving technique efficiency and lack of hazardous side effects. But keep in mind that the issue of life extension has for ages attracted lots of dangerous frauds and rascals – any opinion should be regarded with care and attention.

Well, let us wait for experiments on mice to start – time will show whether Mikhail Shchepinov succeeds in winning a “Methuselah Mouse Prize” or another promising fight against age ends with nothing?

    Mikhail S. Shchepinov «Reactive Oxygen Species, Isotope Effect, Essential Nutrients, and Enhanced Longevity» Rejuvenation Research (Mar 2007, Vol.10,No.1:47-60).
    Commercial Biotechnology
Kizilova Anna

Tags: health     

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