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The risky anti-aging pills that men are now taking



Louis is a 27-year-old assembly line worker in Three Rivers, Michigan. He has no health problems and rarely sees a doctor. But for a man in his heyday, Louis thinks a lot about tricking death. He researched online strategies and even switched to herbal diet after hearing from a YouTube channel called Vegan Gains that veganism could extend his life. Louis believes the diet would cost him a few more years, but he feels the need to continue to seek new ways to prolong his life. "I want to live as healthy as possible for as long as possible," he says. "And if we have therapies and practices that extend our healthy lifespan today, I think we must follow those therapies and practices."

Charles is your average middle-aged bourgeois family man. He lives in a suburb of Atlanta, works in marketing at 9 to 5, does Brazilian Jujitsu and spends weekends watching his kid in wrestling tournaments. Except that Charles has hung up: He worries that he has the feeling of withering, that he has grown old, that he is thinning his hair, losing a step and forgetting the name of his friend's wife. Charles is the guy who works in anti-aging Internet forums and takes a handful of dietary supplements. "A few years ago, when my grandfather had cancer, I saw him die," he says. Charles learned about alternative ways his grandfather might try to extend his life, but his grandfather did not try. Soon after, Charles (who did not ask for his real name) received some news that caused him to get into hyperdrive. "I did this genetic test," he says. "I found out I had a risk for Alzheimer's." This risk increases with increasing age of your body.

Van is a 72-year-old who led the distribution of medical devices in Boston until he retired and moved to Spain. He used to run eight kilometers and lift weights three times a week. But in the late '60s, all the wellness stuff did not work so well. "I got really tired in the afternoon," says Van, who did not want to give his name. "I would be too tired to go to dinner at night, and I also got high blood pressure, I felt the effects of aging." His attempts to trigger a kettlebell were halfhearted, and his walks through the neighborhood slowed down felt the sun go down over the life of his beloved vitality and that he was approaching a bleak and inevitable bed-ridden demise.

Each of these men found a solution to his concerns about aging at about the same place and time something in Reddit threads and longevity blogs about something people on the other end of the keyboard said could help them live better for longer, it would make Louis healthier now as he grew older and all his friends saw their bodies fade, reducing Charles' risk of Alzheimer's and boys ten years younger into BJJ It would get Van's training going again and drop his blood markers to someone half his age. It had the potential to be stronger than diet and exercise. But it also had the potential to cause some problems.

It was a curious substance found on a 1

964 Canadian exploration expedition on Easter Island. Scientists investigating diseases found that people did not take tetanus with their feet as expected, and they found that the soil contained some secrets. But no one expected to find it. The soil stored frozen in a laboratory at the University of Montreal until a researcher searched for useful compounds in 1969 and came across a molecule that was a potent immunosuppressant. In 1999, the FDA approved the molecule as a drug Rapamune (sirolimus), also known as rapamycin. In the mid-2000s, rapamycin was found to prolong the life of worms and yeasts. In a 2009 study, it extended the life expectancy of mice by 28 percent in men and 38 percent in women. Twenty-eight percent plus more energy? This could mean more than a decade of better years for people, the editors and bloggers said. But there was a catch.

Rapamycin was not exactly kind and it was not something Louis, Charles or Van could pick up at CVS. In high doses, rapamycin suppresses your immune system. The FDA approved it for people who had undergone an organ transplant to prevent their body rejecting the donated organ. The stuff could expose you to the risk of side effects. Approximately 5 percent of patients in clinical trials have experienced them so badly that they had to stop the medication. The FDA stamped rapamycin with a "black box" warning, which is the most extreme for drugs that are associated with "serious or life-threatening risks" – risks such as infections, pneumonia and cancer.

However, the forums had links to legitimate research and caused a stir in the ranks of influential biohackers such as Tim Ferriss and doctors such as Dr. Peter Attia, in which MIT researchers and doctors from the University of Chicago in their podcasts were talking about the potential age of the drug – bending benefits. Doctors generally do not prescribe rapamycin openly to ensure a long life. Van was lucky and found someone who did. But Louis and Charles, like many people who want something today, have looked around the internet.

We talked to many men like Louis, Charles and Van about this story. They are between 27 and 76 years old, and their opinions on the drug range from "probably helpful, but no better than physical activity" to "slightly the most important drug that humanity has ever discovered, and should be included in the upcoming presidential election the central theme of his cycle. "They are craftsmen, academics, doctors, entrepreneurs and everything in between. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of these men who are quietly experimenting with rapamycin across the country. And if these people are right, they could be like the lucky rodents in research, walking around with improved brain health, heart health, and vitality, while the rest of us indulge in mortality. Or they could kill themselves slowly. It is too early to say.

The Secret of Aging

Scientists still do not know what actually causes aging. Maybe it's because your cells are not dividing anymore, that your telomeres are shortening, that you are depleting your stem cells, or that your DNA is damaged and can not repair itself, or a combination of all these processes. Or maybe it's not one of them. All we can do to live longer and better right now is to treat the symptoms of aging. So that's what the anti-aging community has been trying to do.

It's a story of Whack-a-Huckster. In the 1800s, treatments were patent drugs such as Clark Stanley's Snake Oil Liniment and Hamlins Wizard Oil. In the 1920s, anti-aging physicians charged $ 750 to $ 2,000 for life-prolonging gland transplants. In the late '30s, medical professionals intervened to curb these quack treatments. In the 90s, the boomers brought back the quack. This generation reached middle age and grew up in the turbulent 1960s, ready to question the establishment – in this case the medical establishment – and turn to self-help. The Boomers began popping questionable OTC supplements and getting injections of HGH in hopes of extra life. In 2002, when the market for anti-aging drugs reached $ 43 billion, a panel of 51 scientists in the field published a statement in Scientific American that deciphered the burgeoning anti-aging drug business. Nobody really cared. Only five years later, the market should reach $ 64 billion.

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This is It's about the time when Silicon Valley stepped in with big data, big science, and big money to "bother" death. "Peter Thiel, Jeff Bezos, and other tech billionaires have since had billions in life-extension companies like Calico and the Methuselah Foundation. (See "Causes of Death," page 111.) Much of the new research is based on anti-aging discovery, which took place all the way back in 1935. At that time, researchers at Cornell found that rats who spent their lives in a state of calorie reduction were living longer.

At some point, this discovery would be made by the microscope of Dr. Ing. David Sabatini be associated with this life-prolonging union in the bottom of the Easter Island. Dr. Sabatini did not bother to meddle In this strange world of anti-aging, in 1992, when he was studying a sample as a student at Johns Hopkins Medical School, he discovered a protein called mTOR (short for the mammalian target of rapamycin) Finally, there would be a connection between the way rapamycin could prolong life and the way calorie reduction does it. He had discovered the mTOR signaling pathway that responds to rapamycin. The drug could affect exactly the causes of aging.

Dr. Sabatini, now Professor of Biology at Whitehead Institute and MIT, explains the mTOR path as follows: Imagine your body is an old house. Your oldest cells have all sorts of problems and are associated with your house falling apart. "You would not be able to completely renovate the old house if you only hire a plumber, an electrician, a roofer, or a drywall worker," Dr. Sabatini. "You would have to hire a general contractor who hires all the specialists who come to fix all the issues that need to be fixed." The mTOR path is like that of a general contractor, signaling your body to demolish old cells and parts of it replace it with newer, healthier ones.

Dr. Sabatini believes that rapamycin essentially tempts the body to think that he is in a state of low calorie, causing the contractor to call all the guys to renovate. The cell workers consume their oldest, weakest cell parts, even parts of aging cells. These are cells that can no longer divide and increase aging and possibly even cause cancer. This means that rapamycin can offer you all the benefits of fasting without the starved-down drawbacks. In addition to studies on rapamycin in yeasts, worms, flies and mice, in 2014 scientists began working on dogs. It turned out that those taking the drug had signs of younger hearts and a reversal of age-related heart problems.

During this process, Mikhail Blagosklonny, Ph.D., M.D., a prolific researcher on aging at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, began writing in medical journals about his theories on rapamycin. He noted the 2008 anti-aging pledge and hypothesized that a lower dose than transplant patients could bring benefits without side effects. On Christmas Eve 2014, a study conducted by researchers at Novartis and Stanford and published in Science Translational Medicine confirmed the theory of Drs. Blagosklonny. Older people who took the drug for six weeks did not notice a decrease in their immunity – it even increased in groups taking only 0.5 mg per day or 5 mg per week. Adult transplant patients usually take a daily dose of 2 mg.

There are currently more than 2,000 clinical trials worldwide for rapamycin, nearly 1,000 of them in the US, and even the director of the NIH has blogged about its potential benefits. All this means that in describing a trend that will soon explode, rapamycin will tick many boxes: wellness gurus who pronounce it, credible researchers who give it ink, and enough strangers to interpret the research in any way, which cooperates with your worldview. But science, like science, is slow and careful and may never find an answer. Because the drug is already a generic medicine, pharmaceutical companies are not interested in it, and anti-aging enthusiasts are moving forward and accepting, sometimes with serious consequences, ways to get the drug. Louis and Charles searched the forums – not the somewhat moderated ones like Reddits, but the forums Charles "would rather not mention just to protect them, you know?" Charles found a post with a link to an obscure, unregulated pharmacy in India was ready to send anyone to rapamycin, no prescription required. Louis got his from a supplier he did not reveal.

Van located a doctor in the US who would prescribe the drug. His name is Alan Green, MD, and he treats patients from his home in Bayside, Queens. Since you have to visit him personally, Van flew to LaGuardia airport, took a taxi to Bayside, and landed in dr. Green's office.

With these anti-aging drugs, there are the sketchy ones that we do not know -the-effects-nor-recipes Green – and then there are the incomplete incomplete of foreign pharmacies and underground suppliers. Many foreign pills are okay, but others are not. The bad ones can be counterfeited, contaminated, spoiled or otherwise insecure. They can make you sick, lead to dangerous interactions with other medicines that you take, and even kill you. In Charles & Louis & # 39; and Louis & # 39; Eyes was the greater risk of doing nothing. They each requested a shipment of rapamycin; Charles got a four-month supply for $ 100 and Louis two years for about $ 200.

Van's prescription was from Dr. Green, who takes the drug himself. The doctor – five feet ten and 175 pounds when he started, with a strand of white hair around his brown head – said the decision to hit it had been easy. He had just turned 72 and "everything would shit. It was clear that I was going downhill fast, "says the 76-year-old. "I would wind up easily and would not move, knowing that I would not live much longer if I continued to get worse." He came across Dr. Blagosklonnys work and wrote a prescription for 6 mg once a week "I had nothing to lose," he says. "The first thing that struck me was that it was easy to lose weight, I lost two pounds a week, and I also had significant energy gains and was not wound up so quickly . "

Dr. Green continued his treatment for a whole year with nothing but uptrends," so I decided, "Well, I will make this available to other people," he says. "The FDA's black box warning is an excellent warning as it applies to use in organ transplants." Not so much, Dr. Green. It is not illegal for him to prescribe the medication. "Once the FDA has approved a drug, it may generally be prescribed by health care providers for unauthorized use if they judge that it is medically appropriate for their patients," said Jeremy Kahn, FDA spokesman. In total, one out of five prescriptions for off-label use is given today, such as the blood pressure medication Inderal for the treatment of performance anxiety or the antidepressant Zoloft for the treatment of premature ejaculation.

Dr. Green did a website research and heard from people who found him online. "I thought I would see a few patients a month," he says. His phone started ringing far more. "I think I was Dr. Green's second patient," says Van. The doctor led Van through a handful of questions about his medical history, why he was interested in rapamycin and what he had hoped for. Then he did some basic blood tests, says Van and wrote him a prescription. Van filled the Rx, poured six of the aspiring-sized 1-mg pills into his hand and put it in his mouth. He flew back to Boston and took home once a week the same dose of 6 mg. "My blood count quickly became that of someone who was 20 to 30 years younger," he says.

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Dr Alan Green, 76, had no idea that so many men would come to his office in Queens to get rapamycin.

Kathryn Wirsing / Studio D [19659015] Drs cost between $ 75 and $ 150 a month, Dr. Green now sees about three patients a week and "many are doctors, graduate students, and senior executives," he says, but that helps people like Charles and dr. Louis.

They received the rapamycin pills a few weeks after ordering Charles added a 5 mg dose along with all the other supplements he took and washed the mixture with water, Louis did the same at a dose of 7 Others take their pills once a week. "I lost 10 or 15 pounds in the three months I took it," says Charles, who admits he had a better meal. "I feel less sore, as if I were taking Advil n. I wanted to stop jujitsu a few years ago because of my joint pain and am now rolling with 25 year olds. My hair seems to be a lot thicker too. "Louis spent almost a year with it; He says he can not say if less joint pain and improved mood are direct results or just random. He had a sore mouth, signs of a weakened immune system, but they did not shake him – he thought they might just be a coincidence.

Fears about infections and worse are one reason why doctors do not prescribe rapamycin. Dr. Green says that bacterial infections occur in about 5 percent of patients. "I had some skin and soft tissue infections that I treated with antibiotics," he says, stressing that infections can get worse quickly without antibiotic treatment. "I have two patients who have had pneumonia and had to be hospitalized, and in both cases the start of antibiotics has been delayed by a few days to a week or more."

"I think [prescribing rapamycin] borders on unethics, "says Dr. Sabatini, who does not take the drug. "I think we are far from knowing that there are no disadvantages to long-term use." Dr. Attia, the influential 46-year-old physician focused on longevity, says he will not prescribe it to other people. at least not yet. "I take rapamycin myself and to some extent think that this is a wise option," he says. "But I did not prescribe it to any patient except one who is a scientist himself and is studying rapamycin, and I think that speaks to my desire to better understand the risks, not just too much, but too little." We'll probably Dr. Attia says, "It's too time-consuming and too expensive to do a good study like this." "We have to rely on a combination of proxies," he says and scientists are discussing the development of such tests to analyze what types of markers can really determine what happens to the drug.

Louis, Charles, and Van are not waiting for science to catch up The three of them, the remainder of Dr. Green's patients, and the immense numbers banishing rapamycin from the Internet, may be among the 95 Pro of people who do not see any negative side effects. Provided the pills they get are real. And maybe they all survive us. Or maybe they will find an unknown, unforeseen consequence. Medicine can be a game of chance. Some medicines were on shelves for decades before the doctors realized that they had been associated with harmful long-term side effects and needed to be pulled. For example, the analgesic Vioxx was associated with 27,000 heart attacks and strokes after FDA approval, and the acne medication Accutane dramatically increased the risk of miscarriage and severe birth defects in women taking during pregnancy. Many later sued his creator.

None of these cases will influence the decisions of the anti-furious people we talked to. "I do not know if it makes me live longer, but I hope I can rid myself of dementia," says Charles. "And I feel fine, man. Why not?


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