Newly Discovered Anti-aging Agent Stirs Debate

By David Njagi
Freelance Journalist - Kenya

It’s all about delivering better health for humans through fighting aging diseases like any other sicknesses.

It comes with doses of distaste including foul smell, but Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S,) is presently the talk shop among the scientific community as the future anti-aging agent.

A research, published in the January edition of the Molecular and Cellular Biology journal, argues that the chemical compound can indeed slow aging, going by evidence tabled by a group of Chinese scientists.

According to them, “H2S inhibits free-radical reactions by activating SIRT1, an enzyme believed to be a lifespan regulator, and through interaction with the Klotho Gene (KL Gene), also thought to extend life.”

The charged reaction to this new finding has crossed seas and stretched imaginations among the planet’s most vibrant minds.

At the University of Nairobi (UON), the researchers of the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry acknowledge that H2S occurs naturally both in the human body and the environment.

But it is the compound’s previously unknown important functions as a life supporter that is causing a stir even among the most conservative of scholars.

“Hydrogen Sulfide relaxes the smooth muscles of the body and enables blood vessels to dilate, hence good supply of oxygen,” argues UON’s Prof. Shem Wandiga. “It also leads to an active brain function and reduces memory loss.”

Just like the Chinese study suggested, Kenyan medics say the supply of Hydrogen Sulfide can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer, cardiovascular ailments, as well as prevent erectile dysfunction.

It is such evidence that led the Chinese researchers to conclude that “H2S may become the next potent agent for preventing and ameliorating the symptoms of aging and age associated diseases” ’, as quoted by the Science Daily.

But what is aging?

According to Dr. Irungu Muthuka of Metropolitan Hospital in Nairobi, the process of aging is also referred to as senescence in science.

It can be understood from two levels, he says, cellular and organism. Cellular senescence refers to changes in a cell as one ages, while organism senescence occur on a gross level, such as loss of hair, says Dr. Muthuka.

However, he cautions, there is no universal theory that explains aging.

“Some scientists say aging is a genetically controlled process and refers to the length of telomeres and other genetic markers,” he explains. “Others say it is the accumulation of toxins in the body while others argue it is about the faulty repair of body damage.”

As a Health Improver

Opinion is still widely divided on whether the use of chemicals is safe for body aesthetics. Some like Dr. Hannah Wanyika say that the use of such technologies could be both useful and dangerous.

“For me there is nothing wrong with using anti-aging agents,” says Dr. Wanyika. “The important thing is that the aging process is treated while also improving skin health.”

It is scientifically evidenced that H2S has a good number of qualities that aesthetics look for, including life enhancing traits.

“Some of these include improving the look of the skin texture, lessoning oily skin and blemishes, smoothing wrinkles and fine lines, moreover, unblocking pores when used properly and in the right amounts,” says Prof. G.N. Thoithi at the UON School of Pharmacy.

Meanwhile, sociologists argue that there is a general feeling among the middle class that the older generation has denied the young opportunities for self-realization hence the desire to seek a longer lifespan as insurance to fulfill unmet dreams.

Still, there are those who explain the emerging trend as a reaction to the harmful effects caused by climate change and rising temperatures. Studies indicate that human activity account for 10 per cent of H2S global emissions.

“Extreme radiation from the sun has been shown to affect the human skin causing aging and even cancer,” explains Dr. Evans Kamuri of Kenyatta National Hospital. “Anti-aging agents that have a sun screen effect are safe for human use.”

If Hydrogen Sulfide has such useful traits, many ask, where is it obtained?

While swamps and sewers generate H2S due to breakdown of organic matter, the compound is released as volcanic and natural gas, and in some hot and cold springs.

Experts also say the compound is produced in small amounts by mammalian cells, a function that enables regulation of metabolism and body temperature.

The World Health Organization (WHO) expert committee recommends inclusion of Hydrogen Sulfide in the daily diet from products such as butter, cheese, beef, chicken, jellies, candies, garlic and mineral water.

However, religious groups have argued against this, as they say that the use of chemicals to inhibit aging goes against the natural order of life, and it is one of the many conspiracies by science to challenge the Supreme Being’s creation.

“The human body is a sacred abode and should be respected the way it was created,” says Adan Wacha, the chairman of the Inter Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK).

A recent study published by the Lancet reports that in sub Saharan Africa, life expectancy at birth for men is 59.4 years, which is 8.1 years lower than the global average.

Aging is thought to be a genetically controlled process related to the length of Telomeres and other genetic markers. It might also take place due to toxic accumulations in the body or faulty repair of cellular damages.

Women, it says, account for 62.6 years of life, a figure that is 10.7 years lower than the worldwide average. “Overall, people around the world live longer, but they spend more years living with illness and injuries,” says the study. “If you want to live to be 80, you’re going to spend 14 years with a cluster of illnesses. Health systems will need to grapple with this as the norm.”

Even though, claiming such repudiations by some fanatic religious groups without understanding the core concept of anti-ageing reminds us of the medieval Catholic Church during the Dark European Ages when it rejected medical “interruptions” as it called, and banned chemical medicines which were brilliantly invented to cure diseases, illnesses and disorders.

Full lists of drugs were burnt as well as countless brilliant inventors were threatened and sentenced to death due to the claims of the Catholic Church which announced that curing, healing and all the types of medical sciences were devilish tools against the will of God who intended to sick humans!

The medical field of anti-aging is concerned with human molecular and cellular damages which occur due to aging and divides them into main seven categories for which repairing techniques are being developed.

This important discipline is to engage in what is called Preventative Geriatrics, where repairs are done molecularly and cellularly before damages to human cells reach the level of abundance that is pathogenic.

Keeping fatal and chronic diseases of old age at bay is one of the primary focuses of Gerontology. It’s all about delivering better health for humans through fighting aging diseases like any other sicknesses, and therefore, increased life expectancy will appear as a normal result, God willing.

Related Links:
Scientists Curing Aging
New Trends in Anti-Aging Medicine
Scientists Map Initial Anti-aging Formula
Protein Linked with a Disease Plays Role in Aging
The Secrets To Healthy Aging
David Njagi is a Nairobi-based freelance journalist whose work has been published in Africa and the United Kingdom. He is fluent in both English and Kiswahili languages. He can be reached at danjagi@gmail.com or +254 720 480 830.

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