The Most Important Principles for Staying Young: Stem Cell Repair Mechanism

16 Aug

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing.  You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do.  In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the quality and length of your life.

One of everyone’s big hopes is to find ways for your body to use its own stem cells to repair itself. Your body naturally already uses its own stem cells to make you stronger, healthier, and more resistant to the conditions that have the potential to slug away at you day after day and year after year. The problem is, you lose stem cells as you age, whether by using them to repair damaged organs or because they’re destroyed by such toxins as chemotherapy or radiation or oxygen free radicals—leaving you vulnerable to many problems.

A key to slowing aging or reversing it is repairing damage with brand new cells. When you smoke, stem cells are sent to the lungs to respond to the damage that results from each drag of a cigarette. Or when your skin burns from the sun, stem cells go there to make repairs. But— and this is a big but—there are two unfortunate consequences of that repair, and it’s another example of how a valuable process has the power to flip you up-side your head.

First, the more stem cells you send in for repair (say, the more times you burn your skin from lying out by the pool unprotected), the more stem cell reproduction occurs. The more reproduction, the higher the chance that something will go wrong during cell division—meaning that your stem cells have a higher chance of differentiating into a tumor cell. Stem cells know how to replicate quickly, so, boom, you’ve got cancer. (That’s why repeated damage to an organ—via smoking, sunburn, alcohol abuse, or inflammation from saturated fat or just being fat—predisposes you to cancer.) Second, if your stem cells are constantly repairing sunburn, then there won’t be enough of them available to aid in maintaining your other organs.

Stem cells come in two varieties: Blastocysts (often mistakenly called embryonic, a charged word that has created a political and moral brouhaha) and Progenitor cells (also called adult stem cells): These adult stem cells retain the ability to grow into other kinds of cells. Why is this so exciting from a medical and scientific perspective? If your own stem cells—the cells you currently have—can be used to regenerate new tissue to replace broken-down or diseased tissue and fix your own organs, then you have the opportunity to punch frailty right in the face.

One of the goals of stem cell research is to harvest some of these universal cells, grow them in laboratories, and then use them to undo the damage done by such things as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases associated with aging. How do we know that this process has potential? Well, just look at the work that’s been done on the heart.

Cardiology was one of the specialties most resistant to the potential power of stem cells, and the damaged heart was considered to be a representative of the key organs that could not regenerate themselves. In research involving heart transplant, scientists studied groups of men who received a female heart (in heart transplantation, the sex of the heart doesn’t matter, but, rather, the size). In theory, the cells of a female heart, when transplanted into a man, should have only their original double- X chromosomes, with no male Y chromosomes in them at all. But when researchers examined the hearts only a few months after transplantation, they actually found Y chromosomes in the heart—meaning that the male stem cells were migrating from the bone marrow to the heart to make periodic repairs. Similar reinvigoration of almost all of your organs continually occurs with your own full- time stem cell repairmen.

In a recent story that you may have seen in the non-medical press, researchers found people who had lost some mobility following a stroke could recover substantial motor and brain function when their own adult stem cells (increased in numbers when grown in culture) were injected into the parts of the brain damaged by the stroke.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to send questions—to youdocs@gmail.com, and some of them we may know enough to answer (we’ll try to get answers for you if we do not know).

Young Dr Mike Roizen (aka, The Enforcer)

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