While most of us would love to live longer lives, we wouldn’t want to do so in a state of pain, suffering, and proving a burden to our loved ones.
Yet, despite advances in medicine and improvements in care standards, this is the reality for many of us.
Slowing down ageing, but not living longer
The purpose of the study was to explore the primary triggers of ageing and subsequently identify what we can do to delay and mitigate the onset of these.
The study examined various hypotheses, including:
- The effect of increasing physical activity and reducing calorific intake on ageing.
- Examining the use and effectiveness of drugs that can control the metabolic system.
- How we can control the accumulation and growth of cells that may cause tissue damage as we age.
Reduced oxygen to our cells initiates significant ageing triggers
The study found that the decrease in oxygen supply to our body tissues, due to the deterioration of our cardiovascular systems as we age, initiates other ageing processes in the body.
Specifically, a decrease in Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), which is vital for maintaining our blood vessels, plays an important role. Scientists have now uncovered the mechanism by which VEGF starts to reduce. As this happens, the ability of our blood vessels and capillaries to carry oxygen around the body also declines.
By introducing VEGF as an external intervention when testing on mice, scientists found this could dramatically improve the function of the vascular system. The research found that older mice that received VEGF enjoyed similar levels of health to their younger counterparts. These mice were also much healthier than those of the same age who didn't receive the treatment.
Specific health outcomes observed following the administering of VEGF included:
- Prevented depletion of subcutaneous fat.
- Slowed loss of bone mass and mitigation of conditions like osteoporosis.
- Delaying the development of a fatty liver.
- Delaying a general slowdown in liver function.
- A reduction in the rate of development of cancerous tumours.
While such a study has yet to be conducted on humans, the results are an exciting sign of how much better we’re beginning to understand the ageing process, and unlock the possibility of us living healthier for longer in the future.