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The Takeaway: Clearing Old Cells From Body Could Slow Aging; Boomers Aren't Only Ones Worried About Retirement

Out With the Old (Cells, That Is): Talk about cleansing-if the latest anti-aging research on mice proves applicable to humans, future seniors could find it possible to flush old cells right out of their bodies. Eliminating these ' senescent cells'-which have stopped dividing properly but just sort of hang about the body, wreaking havoc- could help slow or prevent all sorts of age-related health woes, scientists say.

"This research has identified a cell class that makes you old and makes you have age-related declines. We can now start to think about how you can get rid of them," said molecular biologist Jan van Deursen.

Van Deursen led a Mayo Clinic study, published online in the journal  Nature this week, in which researchers engineered a drug that could wipe out senescent cells, then gave this drug to some mice starting when they were young and to others after age-related complications had set in. In both cases, clearing out the senescent cells resulted in mice with less tissue damage and greater pep in their step. They could exercise longer, didn't develop cataracts and avoided typical age-related muscle loss.

"When they blocked the senescent cell process in mice prone to premature aging, they blocked the development of spinal arthritis, the loss of muscle, thinning of skin -- they were all reverse," said Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

But this study was just a 'proof of principle study,' said van Deursen. No one knows whether process would work similarly in humans or other species. 

Cross-Generational Retirement Worries: It's not just boomers-a new survey finds Americans of all ages worried or confused about retirement security. The  survey, from The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, found 56% of Generation X (the generation following the boomers) is concerned about not having enough saved for retirement, and 33 percent said they don't know where to begin planning for retirement security. A little over half of Gen Y (roughly, those born between 1980 and the mid-90s) said they don't know how to plan for retirement.

While it's certainly not great that retirement insecurity seems to be an all-ages game, perhaps it's good news that those in younger generations are already thinking about retirement planning? The younger generations might not know how to save for retirement, but they know they should, at least.

Thursday Quick Hits: 

  • Good news-a new analysis finds that 75 percent of companies that had stopped providing matching 401(k) contributions during the recession's peak have since reinstated them.
Photo: Vetta/Getty Images
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