Mindfulness meditation represents a mental training framework for cultivating the state of mindful awareness in daily life. Recently, there has been a surge of interest in how mindfulness meditation improves human health and well-being. Although studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can improve self-reported measures of disease symptomatology, the effect that mindfulness meditation has on biological mechanisms underlying human aging and disease is less clear.
We hypothesize that many ailments are attributable to dysfunctions of autonomic balance. The autonomic system is a primitive, highly-adaptive response system that allows differential allocation of biologic effort under varying conditions. The autonomic system, however, can execute a response that is inappropriate for the system stressor due to evolutionary displacement. Evolutionary displacement is a situation in which a trait that evolved as an adaptive response to certain conditions now faces a new set of conditions.
In 2000, it was suggested to me that "Autophagy will be the wave of the future; it will become the new apoptosis." Few people would have agreed at the time, but this statement turned out to be prophetic, and this process of 'self-eating' rapidly exploded as a research field, as scientists discovered connections to cancer, neurodegeneration and even lifespan extension. Amazingly, the molecular breakthroughs in autophagy have taken place during only the past decade.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are of primary importance as they cause damage to lipids, proteins, and DNA either endogenously by cellular mechanism, or through exogenous exposure to environmental injury factors, including oxidation insult factors, such as tobacco smoke. Currently 46.3 million adults (25.7 percent of the population) are smokers. This includes 24 million men (28.1 percent of the total) and more than 22 million women (23.5 percent). The prevalence is highest among persons 25-44 years of age. Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders.
The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Genetic factors clearly contribute to exceptional longevity and healthy aging in humans, yet the identification of the underlying genes remains a challenge. Longevity is a complex phenotype with modest heritability. Age-related phenotypes with higher heritability may have greater success in gene discovery. Candidate gene and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for longevity have had only limited success to date.
Atherosclerosis, hypertension, obesity, diabetic complications, cancer, benign prostate hyperplasia, Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases, age-related macular degeneration, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and seborrheic keratosis are strongly associated with aging, implying a common underlying process. Each disease is treated separately and, in most cases, symptomatically. Suppression of aging itself should delay or treat all age-related diseases, thus increasing healthy life span and maximal longevity. But, is it possible to slow down aging?
The progressive increase in the elderly population worldwide has resulted in higher numbers of individuals affected by age-associated diseases, such as neurodegenerative and heart diseases, metabolic impairment, or cancer, with the subsequent burden for national health systems. Therapeutic interventions aimed to increase the quality of life at advanced age are visualized as important demands for the future, both at the level of individuals and society.
Cellular senescence has historically been viewed as an irreversible cell-cycle arrest mechanism that acts to protect against cancer, but recent discoveries have extended its known role to complex biological processes such as development, tissue repair, ageing and age-related disorders. New insights indicate that, unlike a static endpoint, senescence represents a series of progressive and phenotypically diverse cellular states acquired after the initial growth arrest.
Toxicological Sciences: An Official Journal of the Society of Toxicology
Carcinogenicity and aging are characterized by a set of complex endpoints, which appear as a series of molecular events. Many of these events can be modified by caloric intake. Since most of these processes determine an organism's ability to cope with various environmental stressors, it is not surprising that a relationship (in the presence of a constant nutrient density) exists between caloric intake and time-to-tumor and/or life span.