ISLAMABAD: The elixir of life may have been discovered by British scientists – and it could be in your bathroom cabinet.
An ingredient in many popular face creams, including some made by Olay, Simple and L’Oreal, extends life by more than a fifth, a study found.
The experiments were conducted on worms but the researchers say they pave the way for a longevity drug for humans.
An ingredient in many popular face creams, including some made by Olay, Simple and L’Oreal, extends life by more than a fifth, a study found
The ‘miracle’ ingredient, allantoin, comes from comfrey, a herb that grows wild in the UK. The compound, which is made from the root of the plant, is said to encourage skin to regenerate and is added to many moisturisers and anti-ageing creams.
These include many inexpensive products, such as Simple’s £4.99 Regeneration Age Resisting Day Cream, and L’Oreal Skin Perfection BB Cream, which is priced at around £6.99 and is used to mask blemishes.
The ‘elixir of life’ can also be found in some products in the Olay Regenerist range. The fact that allantoin is already in widespread use is exciting because it suggests it is unlikely to encounter safety concerns if it is turned into a drug.
Liverpool University researcher Joao Pedro de Magalhaes was inspired by decades of animal research that have shown if calories are severely restricted, life is extended. Mice, for instance, can live up to 50 per cent longer.
The ‘miracle’ ingredient, allantoin, comes from comfrey, a herb that grows wild in the UK. The compound, which is made from the root of the plant, is said to encourage skin to regenerate and is added to many moisturisers and anti-ageing creams
However, while the idea may seem appealing, few people could stick to a diet that involves severely depriving themselves of food, day in, day out.
To find a drug that has the same effect, Dr de Magalhães plugged details of the effect calorie restriction has on the body into a computer programme.
He also fed in information about the action of 1,000 chemicals and looked for a match.
Five possibles were tested on worms – with allantoin providing the most exciting results.
Worms fed the compound lived 22 per cent longer. They also seemed to be healthy for longer, the journal Aging Cell reports.
The researcher said: ‘Allantoin was the most interesting because it is already used in anti-ageing creams and cosmetics, so it seems to be extremely safe for human use.’
He now plans to see if the compound extends the life of mice and rats. Eventually, it could be turned into a pill for people.
And with calorific restriction credited with cutting the risk of cancer and slowing its progress once it hits, it could also lead to new treatments for the disease.
Heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s might also be in its grasp.
In the meantime, the researcher advises those who want to hold back the hands of time to lead a healthy life.
This includes not smoking, avoiding drinking to excess, eating well and exercising regularly.
Unfortunately for those with allantoin creams in their bathroom cabinets, the long-living worms ate the compound.
Simply rubbing the compound onto the skin is unlikely to boost longevity, the researcher said.