The Ultimate Pain Killer
"The Secret Killer" by David Stipp in Fortune (Oct. 27, 2003), 1271 Sixth Ave., 16th fl., New York, N.Y. 10020.
Recent medical studies suggest that anti-aging pills--the miracle drugs we've all been waiting for--may be as close as our own medicine cabinets. According to Stipp, a senior writer at Fortune, aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) could be the "rough draft" of drugs that will extend life spans and stem the alarming increase in age-related diseases, from Alzheimer's to cancer.
Over the past decade medical researchers have focused on "smoldering, low-level in flammation in places like arterial walls and the brain" as the root of many ailments of old age. Clandio Franceschi, scientific director at the Italian National Research Center on Aging, says, "Inflammation is probably the background and driving force behind all major age-related diseases." But that opinion is hardly unanimous in the medical community.
Franceschi began formulating his "inflammaging" theory a decade ago, when his research revealed that as people age, vital immune cells become more prone to inflammation. The male centenarians he and his colleagues have studied appear to possess gene variants that lessened this "pro-inflammatory effect of aging." Another "strong producer of pro-inflammatory molecules," Stipp adds, is body fat, which has been linked to a host of diseases.
Franceschi is not the only scientist to study the relationship between inflammation and disease. …