Scott: If you can clear up an aging, in a simpler form, is it because our bodies don't make up enough stem cells or telomeres? What is exactly happening that makes us age?
Dr. Ed Park: I'm totally jumping out of the whole system and just looking at it like an engineer, basically. The system is designed to work well, and the stem cells when they get damage . . . it's like taking this photocopy. If you were to take this copy and run a photocopy off of it, you'd get blurs and streaks, rotation. If you do that 10 million times, it'll be illegible. It's just so with stem cells. Even if you maintain the lengths of the wicks or the fuses, there's going to be typographical errors. And gradually, that's what aging is. It's the accumulation of typographical errors in the stem cells.
Let's say your liver is a hundred different honeycombs of queen bees, right? Over time, 90% of those hives are going to be fine because the queen is good enough, but 10% of the time, the queen has gotten so damaged but unable to kill herself. We're looking at liver disease, cancer, diabetes. All cells are prone to being damaged, but the good news is they have a mechanism to recognize the damage and kill themselves.
Aging isn't really the shortening of the damage; aging is the failure of the stem cells in an organism to clear and replace. We have these stem cells all over our bodies that are phoning it in. They're there and they're working, but they have issues. They create problems. They have inflammation, and rarely, they create a cancer that can't be cured. That's the least of our problems. Really, the process is an ongoing one, just like friction is always acting in cars. The system's always being damaged and replaced. When you're young, even when you're a little kid, you're still accumulating errors in your DNA, but there's so much reserve, you're still able to replace it with good, fresh copies. But as you get older, everything starts to deteriorate.