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Prescription Drugs with Longevity Benefits

Longevity, also known as life expectancy, can be different for each individual depending on lifestyle, exercise habits, and genetics.

However, there might be some ways that you can help extend your longevity.

Changing your eating habits, boosting your workouts, taking multivitamins, and staying away from certain foods might help. Now, even some prescription drugs can offer longevity support.

What are the prescription drugs that have longevity benefits?
  • Metformin
  • Deprenyl
  • Low dose naltrexone

Listen in as Dr. Mike shares which prescription drugs have longevity benefits that can help add years to your life.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: April 14, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

Anti-aging and disease prevention radio is right here on RadioMD. Here's author, blogger, lecturer and national medical media personality, Dr. Michael Smith, MD, with Healthy Talk.

DR. MIKE: So yeah. Did you know that certain prescription drugs in kind of an off label use do have longevity benefits? And, I mean, I think this is an appropriate topic I am-- most of my listeners know--I'm the senior health scientist for Life Extension and we are the world's largest non-profit anti-aging and supplement research organization. I mean, we've done—the number keeps going up but its $150-160 million or so in the last on this type of research so we have a nice little database of things, supplements, foods, and even drugs that have been shown to increase human longevity.

Now the real mission at Life Extension is to help us all live healthier longer, not just longer it's not—because, you know, by the way, this conventional approach to health which is really a disease approach, it's really sick care, it's not healthcare, but that approach has increased antibiotics, heart drugs, brain drugs, keeping your bones from osteoporosis type drugs. All those things have actually impacted longevity but not necessarily in a healthy way. I mean, go to an internal medicine doctor or a general practitioner or cardiologist or whatever. Yes, there's a lot of people in their 80's even 90's in those waiting rooms but they don't look good. So, conventional medicine has increased human lifespan, not necessarily healthy human lifespan.

So, at Life Extension that's the difference-it's not just about looking at things, researching things, suggesting things that are going to help you live longer and just add years, we're adding healthy years. And I want to talk about some prescription drugs that do that. The first one is Metformin. Metformin is a diabetic drug, Type II diabetic drug. Metformin is more and more becoming the go to drug for diabetics ultimately because it's really good at what it's supposed to do which is lower blood sugar.

It also improves insulin sensitivity, which is extremely important to diabetics but it doesn't cause weight gain. Some of the other original diabetic drugs, the older ones, the older generation ones, they didn't really work all that well. They stopped working after a few years, plus people gained weight. Metformin is a more—I guess it's a not really a new generation because there are newer ones out there but it's a middle generation diabetic drug. Metformin, though--and I'm going to go into the reasons why--is also a longevity chemical.

It is what is known as an AMPK activator. AMPK is an enzyme in every cell of your body it stands for adenosine monophosphate activated protein kinase. We'll just call it AMPK. At Life Extension, we kind of consider this the master switch for managing how a cell produces and/or stores energy. By the way, that process right there is critical for optimal cellular function.

A cell has to be able to produce and/or store energy in an effective manner. As we get older cells tend to not manage that energy creation, energy storage process very well and they become gunked up, they become clogged, they become dysfunctional when they're not able to manage energy and AMPK is critical. It's an enzyme that's critical to help cells manage energy. It declines as we age. We know that.

We know that age, eating too much food, and lack of exercise are the primary ways that AMPK activity decreases and that pretty much describes just about everybody, sorry. Well, I said just about everybody. We're all aging so everybody is going to lose a little bit of AMPK that's just natural but again I go back to that standard American diet (SAD). It's sad. It's a calorie overload with very little nutrition.

Overfed but undernourished. That's going to lower AMPK activity so Metformin is a drug that can activate AMPK, I should say reactivate AMPK. When that happens, whether you're 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 doesn't matter, when you reactivate AMPK you're going to help cells manage energy better and when a cell manages energy better it's going to function better and if the cell functions better then the tissue functions better. If the tissue functions better the organ like the heart functions better and if the heart functions better ultimately the organism, you and me, we're going to function better. So, Metformin as an AMPK activator is improving cell health, it's a cell health drug.

Now, there's other side benefits here, too, if you improve how insulin works, how cells can uptake sugar better, all that kind of stuff, if you can do that which AMPK does, that's why Metformin is a diabetic drug, that also has longevity implications.

There's research showing that you're going to have improved body composition with AMPK, you're going to improve, as I said, insulin sensitivity, sugar management. You're going to have a better lipid or fat profile in your body. You're going to improve inflammatory processes, immune system. I mean it goes on and on because AMPK is managing energy in every single cell. Also Metformin through reactivation of AMPK about 750 milligrams a day, that's a lower dose than what a diabetic would take, you're going to have some cell longevity benefits, tissue longevity benefits, organ longevity benefits and eventually organism, you and me longevity benefits. So that's the first one.

Number two, I wanted to mention is called Depranil. I have a sheet here that I pulled from a Life Extension research protocol. Depranil works by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down dopamine, thereby elevating dopamine levels in the brain and in the central nervous system. Elevated levels of dopamine can confer an anti-depressant affect, it can increase libido, but it's also been shown to extend maximum life span in animal studies.

Depranil is used mostly like in neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's, tremor disorders, seizure disorders and it's even being used a little bit in Alzheimer's now with some awesome effects. But we know that in every decade of life after say starting around 45, you lose about 13-15% of your dopamine producing brain cells. And if you do that every decade by the time you get to your 70's, 80's, I mean, you're not making a lot of dopamine and dopamine is a critical neurotransmitter for muscle coordination, for metabolism, for mood. I mean, dopamine is one of the--if I could say--premier, primary, whatever neurotransmitters in the brain. And so losing dopamine is anti-longevity, it's pro-aging, so Depranil is a drug that can increase the amount of dopamine in your brain and animal models show that that does increase maximum lifespan and we do believe the same can be said for humans. So we're trying to really do more Depranil human research studies as well.

So, the third one I wanted to mention quickly, I don't have a lot of time, is something called Naltrexone, specifically, a low dose form of Naltrexone. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, so it's used in a lot of drug recovery programs but it's been shown to be very beneficial in auto-immune disorders like MS, pain, cancer, HIV and it also increases maximum lifespan in animal models. So, that's Metformin, Depranil, and low-dose Naltrexone-drugs with longevity benefits.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.