By Don C. Reed

We all know the feeling of needing the restroom, and squeezing our internal muscles to delay the inevitable.

But when those muscles weaken, due to age or other causes, we face inconvenience — or worse — in a condition called Urinary Incontinence. (UI)

For an elderly woman, the inability to hold her water can be life-threatening.

If she gets up in the night to rush to the bathroom, she may trip and fall, perhaps shattering her pelvic circle, which can be fatal. Males are less susceptible to this injury, because they have thicker bones and die younger. In California, a female may live to be 82, compared to a male’s 75. The woman’s longer lifespan means more thinning of the bones, making them more susceptible to fractures.

The financial cost of Urinary Incontinence may exceed $80 billion ($82.6 billion) annually.


There are also emotional costs, with some folks withdrawing from active participation in society, for fear of embarrassment.

Elderly people of both genders require more diapers than do babies. The problem of disposal is increasingly immense — millions of “disposable” diapers every day, to be bulldozed into a landfill.

UI can even be a contributing factor toward institutionalizing elderly women.


For that reason alone, Urinary Incontinence is a problem which must be solved.

Consider the mechanics. The sphincter, that on/off valve of the urinary tract, has a special kind of muscle which can clench gently, and stay closed most of the day.

But as these “smooth muscle” cells age, they weaken and die; without enough active cells to maintain closure, urine may spill out uncontrollably during activity, even from a simple cough.

Childbirth may over­stretch the opening; again, if the sphincter cannot close securely, control is lost.

What to do?

One method is called “bulking the muscle.” Injections of fat, collagen, or ground bone into the sphincter will narrow the opening. But while this lessens leakage, it does not end it. Further, it may require repeated injections. There are also surgical methods of reducing incontinence, but these have limited success in older patients.

What if, instead, young and healthy internal muscle could be grown from stem cells?

Working on grants from the California stem cell program, Dr. Bertha Chen of Stanford has an experimental technique: injecting muscle cells (grown from the woman’s own stem cells) directly into the sphincter. This would hopefully strengthen the muscle walls, so that normal self-control would be restored.


Millions of elderly women, and we their families, should wish Dr. Chen success.

Bertha Chen of Stanford

AND — in a completely different area­­ her work may bring an unexpected benefit.

The same kind of smooth-muscle stem cells may save lives.

You have heard of the artery called the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body. It is responsible for transporting oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body.

Sometimes the aorta’s walls may weaken, thin, or even burst. This aortic aneurism can be fatal. A gush of blood may burst out internally, bringing death in minutes.

But if the aorta’s weakening could be detected early… the artery walls

might be strengthened …by the same smooth-muscle stem cells Dr. Chen hopes to use to fight Urinary Incontinence!

One benefit inspiring another…

Imagine if both problems could be cured by stem cell therapies… due to research

funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Still another reason to support Proposition 14: the California Stem Cell Research, Treatment and Cures Initiative of 2020.

Proposition 14 will renew the funding of the California stem cell program. It will be paid for by the sale of government bonds, paid back in relatively small amounts over several decades — with no payments to the state at all until 2026.

Defend a friend — fight chronic disease — vote YES! on Prop 14.

For more information, visit www.YESon14.com. Do it today!

Don C. Reed is the author of “CALIFORNIA CURES”, from World Scientific Publishers. Inc., and other books on stem cell research.

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