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Could less iron help you live longer?

May 26, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
What keeps some people young while others fail the test of time? Is it in our genes or in our head? Is there a magic pill that can keep your mind sharp and your muscles moving? Science is getting closer to unraveling the secrets of how to live a long and healthy life.The Hurlburt family could teach all of us about living life to its fullest. Out of 11 of them, four are in their 90s and feel fine, and the rest of them feel energetic in their 80s.

"It's wonderful. None of us are in wheelchairs," said 93-year-old Millie Hurlburt Maclsaac.

"I don't drink, smoke or worry," said 96-year-old Agnes Hurlburt Buckley.

"Our genes are what they are, but what we can do potentially is design drugs and health supplements that might alleviate some of the deficits of having a bad gene here or a bad gene there," said Lenny Guarente, Ph.D., Biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Guarente believes the key could be in something called sirtuins.

"Sirtuins are a family of genes that we discovered in yeast that can make the cells live longer," said Dr. Guarente.

Scientists found a way to activate these anti-aging genes -- resveratrol, which is found in grapes and red wine and is already sold as a wonder drug to the masses.

Boston Medical Center's Dr. Tom Perls believes a woman's menstrual cycle is one reason women delay the onset of age related diseases, like heart disease and stroke by 10 years.

"They're relatively iron deficient for about 30, 40 years compared to men and it may be as simple as less iron in your system," said Dr. Perls.

"They're relatively iron deficient for about 30, 40 years compared to men and it may be as simple as less iron in your system," said Dr. Perls.

The census bureau forecasts the 65 and over population will increase from 38 to 88-million in 2050, making the Hurlburt family not one of the few, but one of the many defying father time.


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