If you’ve been investing in expensive wellness treatments and eating a diet comprising things Whole Foods sells for $99 with the hopes of remaining young forever, we have some news that might prove upsetting. According to scientists from the University of Arizona, “Aging is mathematically inevitable—like, seriously inevitable,” researcher Joanna Masel says in a statement. “There’s logically, theoretically, mathematically no way out.”
Yikes. Even more depressing? Trying to reverse the process of aging causes cancer. The basic gist is this—over time, some of your cells cease to function as optimally as they once did, which causes aging processes such as graying hair. Other cells, however, ratchet up their growth rate, which causes (you guessed it) cancer.
Scientists theorized that they could eliminate these low-performing cells and halt the aging process; however, what they found instead was that this allows the cancer cells to flourish. “What we show is that this forms a double bind—a Catch-22,” says Joanna. “If you get rid of those poorly functioning, sluggish cells, then that allows cancer cells to proliferate, and if you get rid of, or slow down, those cancer cells, then that allows sluggish cells to accumulate. So you’re stuck between allowing these sluggish cells to accumulate or allowing cancer cells to proliferate, and if you do one you can’t do the other.”
So, while she admits you can slow the process of aging, you’re going to get old eventually, no matter how many pricey creams and wacky wellness trends you try. “The basic reason is that things break,” Joanna says. “It doesn’t matter how much you try and stop them from breaking, you can’t.”
This sounds like something we say to ourselves late at night when insomnia has us reconsidering every mistake we’ve ever made in our lives, no? It’s rather bleak. Still, there is a positive takeaway here, and we want to be sure you don’t miss it. If you’re going to get old, wouldn’t the best advice be to relax and enjoy your youth—however relative—while you can? You’re not going to be the one woman who cheats the aging process through crazy restrictive lifestyle choices (though admittedly, Jane Fonda is making a compelling case). Use retinol, dye your hair and try Botox if you like, but ultimately, embracing a natural, inevitable cycle of life is probably the healthiest thing you can do for yourself long-term, period.