Top scientists think they might have identified a major reason for ageing – meaning they could have also discovered how to slow the process down, as well as reducing the risk of blood cancer. Here’s everything you need to know.
Is This The Secret To Eternal Youth?
Formaldehyde is a common toxic disinfectant, perhaps best known for its use in embalming dead bodies. But did you know that formaldehyde is also found naturally in the body?
Formaldehyde is known to cause DNA damage to blood stem cells, which accelerates ageing and increases the likelihood of blood cancer. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, ‘formaldehyde can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat,’ and ‘high levels of exposure may cause some types of cancers.’ But it is the natural production of formaldehyde in the body that is currently perplexing leading scientists at Cornell University in the US, Oxford and Cambridge universities in the UK and Cancer Research UK. Why does the body overproduce formaldehyde? And how can we reduce this production? If these scientists find the answers to these questions, they may well unlock the secret to eternal youth.
Haematology expert Professor Meng Wang (who is leading the study at Cornell, after commencing it at Cambridge) told The Daily Telegraph: ‘We believe we have pinned down one of the potential causes of natural ageing. This could potentially lead to a therapy to slow down natural age-related decline.’
The study has found that ageing, ‘at least in blood stem cells’, is ‘very much a triggered response,’ according to Professor Wang – in contrast to the widely held belief that ‘ageing is a result of slow, gradual, accumulated damage.’
As well as investigating whether the effects and production of formaldehyde can be treated with medicine, the team is currently exploring what triggers this excessive natural production of formaldehyde, considering food and other lifestyle factors.
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