Today's , (Sept 22, 2014 ) Times of India, highlights an article titled "Can menopause be erased in 20 years ? "...........
It has been a while since I have crossed the peak and started on the downward descent characterized by a big morcha of cells in my body, marching and/or swimming around (as the case may be) , carrying banners saying "Estrogen, Go back!".
For a long time , it looked like the cells were losing badly. I suffered immeasurably in the bloody skirmishes. You could call these the First and Second Endometrial Wars of Independence. Energy loss, anaemia , all coinciding with the busiest part of life as we know it in middle class India.
At some point, the endometrium, like the British, gave up. And I celebrated Independence. Menopause.
Which is why, when I read the above article in the newspaper, I gulped. It was like being colonized once again.
The article refers to research being done at the SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Research Foundation, in Northern California. Senescence is a posh word for Aging. And the work is about finding a gap between when metabolic damage happens in our bodies , and the subsequent permanent pathologies, so that some re-engineering can be done with , say, stem cell therapies .
Stem cells , to put it simply, are "trained" cells, that carry algorhythms for a type of growth. Some offer a wide range of applicability and are called pluripotent stem cells. And some, are special purpose. Like, for example, stem cells, that when injected in a cardiac patient, will help to regenerate the heart muscle, and get things pumping normal once again.
I do not understand this obsession with aging.
And the obsession with having a world class uterus, ovary, and tubes like that of your twenties, when you are sixty. I actually know of someone who swore by HRT(hormone replacement therapy) to avoid the perils of menopause, and exulted in sense of youngness, lesser grey hair et al. True, acquiring a suddenly new set of functioning ovaries, means child bearing then will have no age limit. With your reproductive hormones in full flow, women will presumably age slower. And with no menopause, women will clearly have the various built in protections related to cholesterol and osteoporosis and so on.
But I have a question.
Unlike minds that are obsessed with opposing ageing in an individual, the organs of our body, are part of a set. The members of the set, the various other body organs, are all linked via arteries, veins, nerves, muscles and lymph. Even if you give a new lease of life to the ovaries, and thus the reproductive system, what happens to the rest of the body? How do aging muscles handle an abnormally young uterus? How do you handle old blocks in arteries that have built up over the years and aging walls of the blood vessels? Will this sudden emphasis on one system, get compensated by afflictions to some other part of the body, which is still in original form, and not the new and improved version ?
Like the human body, we as a society and as a people, have a life span, where we live in interaction with those around us. Sometimes, we are kids, sometimes we are teenagers, , sometimes family people, and sometimes geriatric folks. Life is all about interacting with those around us, in different roles. No one really grows up unconnected. No man is an island. And it is all about building bridges. Each stage of life is not always about individual perfection. Roles change and mind set-ups change with age. Levels of patience change. There is learning. Sometimes fresh and new, and sometimes by doing something again and again.
How much stem cell therapy can you do ? It's like, how any parts of a car can you change and replace before you find out that it is cheaper to get a new car ?
And if you really want to rectify non functional, or malfunctioning entities, why not work on things like trying solution for Down's syndrome, various life threatening allergies, cancers and handicaps ? I understand that extensive research is happening in stem cell therapies for these afflictions. But using stem cell therapies to abolish menopause sounds a bit narcissistic.
I sometimes like to think of stem cell therapy as something akin to grafting on a plant. You graft a new variety of something on to a branch of a tree, and at some point, the tree and the graft accept each other's good points, and learn to grow as if they belong. The tree doesn't make an issue of where the graft came from, and the graft is only too happy to be part of a whole system.
There is much for us to learn from this as humans. We still place great emphasis on "my genes", "my blood", "my complexion", "my DNA", "my chromosomes" etc , and are , disgustingly for an evolved being, incapable of handling grafts.
What you really need is some stem cells you can implant in minds. To clean, educate and improve them....
Minds that have gone haywire, minds that are sick, minds that are violent, rigidly selfish minds and so on. So that all these can get back on track.
See , there is nothing cosmetic about it. Throughout life, the mind evolves, by interacting and learning. Your thinking actually decides your age better than your biological age.
And it wouldn't be terribly wrong to say that Aging, really , is a state of mind.....