The Man Who Might "Cure" Aging
Baumann notes the groundbreaking work of Aubrey de Grey, author of The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging (1999) and co-author of Ending Aging (2007). Scrolling through the aforementioned thesis, an almost 200-page paper, Grey, a true maverick in the world of science shares a balanced mix of research references and hypothesis on why and how mitochondria affects cell health and damage and aging overall.
One super interesting term to note is Grey’s “survival of the slowest” theory (which he shortens to SOS), of which he uses to hypothesize why mutant mitochondria are outliving those that are 100 percent a-OK. Basically, he says they don’t function properly anymore, so they can’t create as many free radicals. With fewer attackers hanging around them, the mutated mitochondria are safe from harm—which means they’re more likely to survive and be duplicated than plain healthy mitochondria. And more damaged mitochondria over time, clearly means more damaged cells and then, bam! You’ve got aging on overdrive.
What You Can Do to Save Your Skin
So what’s a girl to do after learning of yet-another-wrinkle-forming frenemy? Luckily as of right now, pretty much what you’re already doing—load up on antioxidants (in your skincare as well as your diet) and never, ever step outside during daylight hours without applying broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Marko Lens, M.D., Ph.D., a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in London and founder of Zelens skincare has tapped into the need for products to focus on protecting and repairing mitochondrial assaults. “The major factor affecting mitochondrial function and mitochondrial DNA health is the production of hazardous free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS),” he says. “Topical antioxidants can effectively fight against ROS and therefore prevent mitochondrial damage and delay cellular death.”
In a Zelens in-house, in-vitro (a skin culture containing human fibroblasts) clinical study, Dr. Lens measured the number of metabolically active mitochondria before and after product application and effect over 24 hours, as well as the level of energy produced by mitochondria. “There was a clear increase in the number of metabolically active mitochondria as well as an increase in energy production,” he says. According to the study, human dermal fibroblasts treated with his newest product, Z Matrix Energy & Moisture Infusion, showed “enhanced metabolically and energetically active mitochondria by13.6 percent after 8 hours of treatment; 18.3 percent in 24 hours.”
Baumann says for now, as research into mitochondria and how to topically protect them is ongoing, simply plan to stick to skincare basics: “Mitochondria play an important role in skin aging. But at this time, there are no effective treatments to repair mitochondrial damage,” she says. “There is much work in this area being done but no significant breakthroughs. For now, your best bet is to try and prevent damage to mitochondria by using sunscreen and antioxidants.”
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