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Middle-age high normal serum sodium as a risk factor for accelerated biological aging, chronic diseases, and premature mortality

PainSci » bibliography » Dmitrieva et al 2023
Tags: water, aging, inflam-sys, controversy, debunkery

Two articles on PainSci cite Dmitrieva 2023: 1. Water Fever and the Fear of Chronic Dehydration2. Vulnerability to Chronic Pain

Photograph of a glass of water.

PainSci notes on Dmitrieva 2023:

In early 2023, this study by Dmitrieva et al. threw gasoline on the perpetually smouldering fire of fear mongering about dehydration, with big claims that chronic dehydration is linked to premature aging. That hydration-aging combo is clickbait crack, and so the study’s implications were echoed and hyped by many major publications.

If the study could be trusted, it would be mildly interesting at best, but far from conclusive or important. But it probably should not be trusted! This was a study of blood saltiness — an extremely loosey-goosey proxy for hydration status — and yet it was promoted by talking up the highly speculative hydration angle, a huge leap of logic from "mice with salty blood aren't thriving" to "optimal hydration is an anti-aging treatment for humans."

But, wow, that PR spin really worked. As it often does.

Major chronic dehydration surely isn’t any better for people than any other kind of low-grade, long-term stressor. But this study probably isn’t actually confirming that, and does not give us any new cause for fear about dehydration. It remains unlikely and unknown whether modern homo sapiens struggles to drink enough. Even if the study is cromulent, it does not mean that clinically significant chronic dehydration is actually common, and it certainly doesn’t mean that making a special effort is an important health habit.

As with vitamin and mineral supplementation, even if “water supplementation” is helpful for people who are legitimately deficient, it’s probably not for anyone else.

The kernel of truth here might be that chronically dehydrated animals really do have shortened lives, but … that's not very surprising. If human animals are shortened by chronic dehydration at all, we’re probably talking about being seriously thirsty for many years. Far more thirst than most people would ever put up with.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

It is known that some people age faster than others, some people live into old age disease-free, while others develop age-related chronic diseases. With a rapidly aging population and an emerging chronic diseases epidemic, finding mechanisms and implementing preventive measures that could slow down the aging process has become a new challenge for biomedical research and public health. In mice, lifelong water restriction shortens the lifespan and promotes degenerative changes. Here, we test the hypothesis that optimal hydration may slow down the aging process in humans.

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Specifically regarding Dmitrieva 2023:

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