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Say 'Aaah' | Media Mix

The Mystery of Aging and Quest for a Cure

May 31, 1999|SHARI ROAN


The New Science of Aging

Rubin Tarrant Productions, in association with PBS and Devillier Donegan Enterprises

Wednesday, 8-11 p.m.



Rarely has the process of aging been explained as clearly and delightfully as in this gem, "Stealing Time." The three-part program will premiere in its entirety Wednesday and is guaranteed to hold interest. By featuring strong visual metaphors, fascinating animal science and brilliant researchers, the series explains the process of aging and what can be done about it.

We learn that people who live to be 100 probably carry certain genes that allow them to age more slowly. Indeed, a woman who gives birth late in the reproductive years is probably a slow ager. Aging, we learn, is a process in which the body invests less and less in self-repair. Thus, to halt or slow aging, scientists are looking for genes that keep the self-repair mechanisms thriving longer.

By the end of the first part, many viewers will believe the researchers' assertions that humans will someday live to be 150 and possibly could bear children as late as age 70.

The second hour focuses on how we might alter the aging process. For example, UCLA scientist Roy Walford, 74, demonstrates how he believes that eating a restricted-calorie diet--30% less than a man his age typically requires--will add 15 to 20 years to his life span.

"Many people alive today will live not only into the 21st century, but beyond it and into the 22nd century," he says.

The third hour explores staying mentally sharp in old age and the puzzle of why mental acuity is steady in the 20s and 30s but widely variable among people in their 70s. The segment features the 90-year-old conductor Mehli Mehta (father of famed symphony conductor Zubin Mehta) who conducts all performances from memory. Scientists also explain why the long-believed idea that we lose neurons as we age is wrong and how estrogen protects women against some aspects of aging.

Besides Walford, "Stealing Time" features UCLA's Jared Diamond and Arnold Scheibel and UC Irvine's Carl Cotman and Michael Rose. Don't miss it.

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