Ladies and Gentlemen, the Cure for Aging is Nigh


Kian Pfannenstiel, Editor

No longer do you need to upload your mind into a computer, have pointy ears, or be undead to extend your life beyond its natural borders, it seems. Late in 2020, a study into the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on aging, and the results suggest that it may be the cure.

First off, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), according to Mayo Clinic, puts a person in a HBOT Chamber, where they breathe pure oxygen at two or three times the normal atmospheric pressure (that could just be local air pressure or it could be at a certain altitude, I’m not sure). It’s used to treat several things, like severe infections, air bubbles in the bloodstream, and wounds that won’t heal due to diabetes or radiation.

Secondly, the aging process is characterized on a molecular level by a decrease in telomere length (they’re things on the ends of chromosomes and the longer they are the better, in short) and an increase in senescent cells, which are basically just decrepit cells.

This study, found at Aging US, of 35 adults aged 64 and over had them receiving daily HBOT exposures for sixty days. They had whole blood samples taken at the beginning, the thirtieth day, the sixtieth day, and one and two weeks after the HBOT therapy ended. As a result, several blood cells showed an increase in telomere length by twenty percent, particularly in B cells by percentages significantly more than twenty. There was also a decrease in senescent cells by some thirty percent.

Naturally, the search to prolong our has been a long history; the oldest known piece of literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh, is about a search for immortality, and the Hippocratic Oath that all medical doctors take is all about keeping people alive. This isn’t just a huge stride in that direction, once we perfect the art we might create immortal life. If you just keep de-aging yourself you can really only die from external forces or disease.

Here’s the issue: we’re not designed to breathe pure oxygen, and we’re definitely not designed to breathe it at really high densities. The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) defines the highest safe O2 concentration as 23.5% of the air you breathe. Extended periods of regular exposure to 100% O2 air concentration can’t be healthy for anyone, so reasonably the absolute best we can possibly hope for is a few years’ extension of our lifespans, not the aforementioned immortal life, sadly.