In "Chasing Life," Dr. Sanjay Gupta explores the human quest for immortality and what we as a society can do to live longer and healthier. From chocolate to vitamins, Gupta tells readers what can -- and can't -- extend their youth and lives. The following is an excerpt.
Beginning the Chase
As I started to talk about my modern-day quest for immortality with colleagues and contacts I had developed over the years, I heard murmurs about a group of Russians who were convinced they had stumbled on the fountain of youth. More specifically, they were confident they had developed ways to achieve a sort of practical immortality. In fact, the word echoing through the longevity chambers was that we were rapidly arriving at a time when the only limit on life span might simply be an individual's decision to stop living. Visions of youthful 120-year-olds with several genetically perfect transplanted body parts, exchanged like a muffler or transmission, danced through my head. These Russians heard of my chase for life and started trying to make contact with me. Surely they wanted me to use my platform as a journalist to shine a light on their own work. Honestly, at first, I was skeptical, and it hardly seemed worth pursuing.
As I read more and more about these doctors and the patients who stood to benefit, however, I became fascinated, if not obsessed. Doctors there invited me to see firsthand what they called not only the slowing of aging, but the actual reversing of it. I couldn't resist, and with an Indiana Jones sense of adventure, I immediately took them up on their offer, which meant taking a trip to Russia in the heart of winter. As I disembarked the plane into the 20-degree weather, I mused to myself, "Okay, I get it, antiaging equals a deep freeze in Siberia." Still, donning a thick, gray wool scarf and one of those ridiculous hats with the earflaps, I started my chase for life.
It is in an upscale business district not far from the Kremlin that I meet Dr. Alexander Tepliashin. He is famous here because he offers something hardly anyone will turn down. With a smile and a series of simple injections under the skin, Tepliashin offers "youth" in just about ten minutes. Tepliashin euphemistically calls these injections "treatments" at his Beauty Plaza Health & Spa. He promises to not only make clients look younger but to revitalize their hair and skin and give them more energy. Not surprisingly, there is one small catch. What he is offering is untested and illegal in much of the world.
Tepliashin is a fleshy man with thinning hair combed straight back and a taste for Ukranian Captain Black cigars. His ultramodern clinic takes up the top two floors of a building on a street populated with such luxury shops as Versace and Cartier. An angled glass ceiling brings in lots of natural light, casting a futuristic glow on the furniture. A metal spiral staircase in the center of the lobby leads to treatment rooms on the second floor.