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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 smoldering 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 hyped by many major publications.

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 weakness, 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 extra hydration is an important health habit. As with vitamin and mineral supplementation, even if extra water 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, and what person is going to be as chronically dehydrated as a tortured lab rat? If lives are shortened by chronic dehydration at all, we’re probably talking about being seriously thirsty for many years. Far more thirst than most of us would ever put up with.

If the study could be trusted, it would be “interesting” at best, but far from conclusive. But it probably should not be trusted! It 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. This study is way less important than it was made to seem. But, wow, that PR spin really worked. As it often does.

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.

BackgroundIt 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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