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  • How Does A Cigar-Smoking Man Live 110 Years?

    June 26, 2014: by Bill Sardi

    Is the road to superlongevity to forever remain a perplexing mystery?  From time to time news reports tell about people who achieved superlongevity (defined at living 110+ years) and we remain puzzled when these reports attribute their long life to smoking cigars or drinking alcohol.

    The self-proclaimed reasons super-longevinarians give for their long life are often quite disparate.  One centenarian advises “mind your own business and don’t eat junk food.”  Another says: “don’t smoke, don’t drink, eat right and don’t overdo it.” []

    But a 107-year old attributes his cigar smoking habit to his longevity.  [Death&] What are we to make of this?

    In modern-day Cuba there are a growing number of centenarians.  These super-seniors in Cuba attribute their longevity to laying off alcohol, drinking coffee and smoking cigars. [BBC News Oct 4, 2006] Yet according to one study, cigar or cigarette smoking results in 4.7 years of lost life.  Cigar or pipe smoking reduces the number of disease-free life years by 5.8 years.  [Tobacco Control 2007]

    Jean Calment of France, the longest living modern human, lived 122 healthy years claimed her consumption of port wine, chocolate and olive oil skin rubs along with a smoking habit were responsible for her extra-long life.  [CNN August 4, 1997]

    These seemingly disparate reasons given for superlongevity may be resolved by melding two theories of aging: the overmineralization theory and the biological stressor theory.  The accompanying chart attempts to explain this visually.

    Overmineralization Theory Of Aging

    The overmineralization theory posits that humans progressively rust and calcify once full childhood growth is completed.  During the growing years the body needs calcium for bone growth, copper for connective tissue and iron for new red blood cells.  So there is no biological aging during childhood, only birthdays.  Accumulation of minerals begins in males first while females menstruate and lose iron in their monthly cycle and donate calcium to their offspring.  Women begin to biologically age (accumulate minerals) once menstruation ceases with the change of life which explains why women generally live longer than men.

    A number of strategies that control or chelate (remove) excess minerals can delay or even reverse overmineralization which includes vegetarian diet versus carnivorous diets (meat is rich in iron, dairy is rich in calcium), limited calorie diets (fasting), bloodletting to remove iron and use of natural mineral chelators (key-lay-torz), particularly those concentrated in hot tea (hot water extract) and wine (extraction by alcohol fermentation) such as resveratrol, quercetin, catechin, all which are mineral chelating molecules.  I’ve actually proposed bloodletting as a cure for all chronic disease. [Knowledge of Health May 2, 2014]

    Epidemiological studies reveal those countries that consume the most meat and dairy (countries with pasturelands to raise steers and milk cows) consume the most iron and calcium and have the highest rates of heart disease and cancer.  A plant food diet plan has recently been shown to reduce risk of all-cause mortality by 41% compared to an animal-food diet plan. [American Journal Clinical Nutrition May 28, 2014]  Plant food diets which do not provide highly absorbed forms of iron or calcium are associated with lower mortality rates compared to iron and calcium rich animal food diets. [European Journal Epidemiology July 1999]

    Further evidence

    A decline in mortality was observed between 1984-1993 in the Czech Republic when meat consumption declined by 13%, milk and dairy product consumption by 26.8% and butter consumption by 43.6% while the consumption of vegetable fats increased by 16%, of vegetables by 8%, tropical fruit by 43.2%. [Cas Lek Cesk June 1997]  There is no increased risk for high blood pressure among developed countries where the intake of calcium is low. [International Journal Cardiology Nov 1991]

    Iron and copper are primary growth factors for cancer. [Free Radical Biology Medicine May 14, 2014]  Iron is absolutely required for the growth of all pathogenic bacteria, viruses, amoeba and fungi.  [Cell Host Microbe May 15, 2013]  Iron removal via iron chelators can prevent microbial growth.  [Hemoglobin June 2010]  Iron removal via bloodletting improves the survival and prevents or delays heart attacks and strokes.  [American Heart Journal Nov 2011]  The presupposition that cholesterol is the primary driving factor that produces mortal heart attacks has been dispelled in place of iron reduction as a safe and low-cost effective alternative.  [American Journal Public Health April 2013]

    Iron chelators are being proposed for a broad number of chronic diseases involving the brain, eyes, heart, cancer [Frontiers Aging Neuroscience July 2013; Survey Ophthalmology Nov-Dec 2013; Circulation Journal 2013; Journal Clinical Pharmacology Sep 2013] and even skin aging. [Current Aging Science Dec 2013]

    So a plethora of reports substantiate the overmineralization theory of aging.

    The Biological Stressor Theory Of Anti-Aging

    The biological stressor theory of anti-aging emanates from many experiments showing mild biological threats provoke endogenous (internal) antioxidant defenses in the body.  The threat must be mild.  This phenomenon is also known as hormesis – the idea that a little bit of a toxin may be biologically beneficial.

    A recent report demonstrated this phenomenon.

    The experiment involved fruit flies that were exposed to paraquat (a known herbicide), iron, an iron chelator (deferoxamine) or polyphenols (catechin from green tea, gallic acid typically found in wine).  Low dose paraquat, iron chelator and iron protected the nervous system of fruit flies.

    Both known toxins (paraquat, iron) and iron chelators and polyphenols (which bind to iron and copper) produced a beneficial effect.  [Gene Jan 10, 2013]

    Known mild biological threats, such as radiation from radium water springs, a shortage of oxygen at high altitude or food deprivation (but not starvation), or molecules in modest doses that molecularly mimic these biological stressors (resveratrol from red wine, allicin from garlic, sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts, quercetin from red apple peel, curcumin from turmeric spice) are known to activate a genetic trigger known as Nrf2 to increase internal antioxidant enzymes in the human body (glutathione, catalase, superoxide dismutase, heme oxygenase). [Methods Molecular Biology 2010]

    That small natural molecules mimic biological stressors means that humanity doesn’t have to have access to bathe in radium springs or climb to high altitude or even adhere to a restricted diet to reliably produce these same effects. [Biochmie Aug 2013]

    Some anti-aging agents exhibit a cross-over effect.  Calorie restriction both represents the mineral chelation (less food = less minerals) and the biological stressor side of the longevity equation.  The red wine molecule resveratrol (rez-vair-ah-trol) is known as a molecular mimic of calorie restriction and as a biological stressor that activates Nrf2 in modest doses. [Journal Pharmacology Experimental Therapeutics July 2012]

    This article attempts to explain underlying biological mechanisms behind seemingly good or bad health habits that can produce superlongevity.  However, even though the body of evidence is growing for mineral chelation and activation of Nrf2, for a variety of reasons modern medicine is simply not ready to put these mechanisms into practice.  The public should not think they can run to their doctors to confirm these practices that may produce superlongevity.  While we learn more, maybe pass around the cigar box.  ©2014 Bill Sardi,


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