EDITORIAL

Life Extension Technologies Represent a Progression of Discoveries …

LETs Do It Now
Let’s improve our healthspan and lengthen our lifespan …
while there is still time to spare

I’m sure sometimes on the sly you do it
Maybe even you and I might do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love
— Cole Porter

M any of you are reading this publication because you have bought into the idea that it is possible to live a longer and happier life, with more of everything that’s good (including more love). So how soon can you expect to see the really big payoffs that reward your diligence? To give a meaningful answer, the question needs to be broken down into a timeline that considers healthspan apart from lifespan. The former is more concerned with the present, and the latter with the future. The urgency of everyday life addresses the question, “How healthy are you right now?” While the less-immediate components of the timeline poses different questions, “How healthy will you be in the long run?” together with the bridling, “Will you be healthy enough?”

A particularly heartening discovery—which was a long time coming—is that senescence can be postponed. To be specific, as James W. Vaupel, PhD, of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany has written, “Senescence has recently been delayed by a decade.”1 This finding, according to Dr. Vaupel, represents:

[A] fundamental discovery about the biology of human ageing, and one with profound implications for individuals, society and the economy. Remarkably, the rate of deterioration with age seems to be constant across individuals and over time: it seems that death is being delayed because people are reaching old age in better health. Research by demographers, epidemiologists and other biomedical researchers suggests that further progress is likely to be made in advancing the frontier of survival — and healthy survival — to even greater ages. [Emphasis added.]

More Health and Longer Life

In other words, senescence is being postponed and shortened, rather than lengthened. And we are more vital along the way. This contradicts the single greatest objection to longevity, which is typically expressed in a sarcastic manner, “Who wants to live in a prolonged state of debilitation?” But debilitation decreases with longer life. Thus the objection is void. And those of us who take better care of ourselves are greater beneficiaries, now as well as in the future.

Another uplifting discovery is that genetics plays a far lesser role than previously thought. So if you don’t have good ancestry, it’s not a big deal! Though this dependency may increase somewhat with age, even among the elderly, genetic variation seems to have only a modest impact. Entirely separate from the genes that we were given are genes that are discovered to possess longevity properties about which we can do something. And even though these are just starting to be clarified—see 23andme.com, deCODEme.com, navigenics.com, dnatraits.com, etc.—the quest for holy-grail genes is robust. If we know which genes do what, we can start by treating them better through the growing discipline of nutrigenomics, the study of the effects of foods and food components on gene expression.

To Live Longer, Prosperity Matters . . . as Does Crisis Avoidance

Another important point raised by Vaupel is that both prosperity and medicine are directly connected to living longer, and because these two factors interact with one another, it is difficult to give greater prominence to either. Suffice it to say, however, that the ability to avail oneself of LETs (Life Extension Technologies) corresponds directly to one’s prosperity.

Demographers, such as Vaupel, usually make their forecasts for future levels of mortality by extrapolating the past and it’s trends. Trends, of course, can change. Over the past 170 years in societies without an inordinate number of disasters such as wars, epidemics, financial crises, these events neither decelerated nor accelerated the long-term increase in life expectancy.* Life expectancy increases have proceeded to compile at a pace of 2.5 years per decade, or six hours per day.2 But if disasters are too great in number, beware! If you fall victim to a crisis, what is the value of your healthspan if your lifespan suddenly terminates!?


* This is reminiscent of Ray Kurzweil’s expressed belief that his “Law of Accelerating Returns” follows an exponential progression even during a financial depression.


More and Healthier Centenarians

According to LETs advocates, it will soon be possible to increase average human life expectancy to 100 years and beyond.3 Nicolas Wade, a first rate science reporter for the New York Times, and very much in touch with LETs, having written a number of books on the subject, predicts that the first life extension drug will be in play within 4–6 years.4 Other LETs supporters believe that what’s going on right now may very well result in leap-frog improvements in healthspan and maximum lifespan.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

To refresh what you probably know already, LETs are represented by a wide range of techniques, therapies, treatments, pharmaceuticals, and nutritional supplements that are aimed at slowing the aging process. Without question, as LETs continue to grow, they will have a significant impact on individuals, the medical profession, and society. Said Victor Hugo, “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” And who knows? What is coming could even impact the views of the federales, especially if the public speaks loudly enough and votes them out. Make no mistake; there is growing revolt against government spending, as represented by voter displeasure against members of appropriation committees in Congress.5 The less money Congress appropriates, the more will be available for LETs. Government bioethicists, such as Leon Kass, consider LETs dangerous.

Neuroenhancement: Another Aspect of the LETs Revolution

On another front of LETs is the domain of neuroenhancement. It is sad to say that this term has been misappropriated by those who see pharmaceuticals as the only answer to improved cognition in healthy individuals, along with better emotional and motivational functions. But neuroenhancement is just another name for nootropics, a term in use for nearly 40 years, encompassing drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals, and functional foods that improve mental functions including cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration. The denial that similar—or even greater—benefits can be gained through the use of herbal extracts and nutrients ignores what may be the core work done in this area, as readers of this publication are fully aware.

Memory Enhancement: What We’ve Been Waiting For

Nevertheless, the nutritional approach to neuroenhancement is a central part of the immediate payoffs we’ve been waiting for, and able to benefit both healthspan and lifespan. Through the use of already-available memory function formulations—typically comprised of the precursors and cofactors necessary to produce more of your brain’s natural and necessary neurotransmitters—it is possible to do many things. Such as fuel and upgrade your memory, enhance your ability to work long and hard hours, increase concentration and focus, improve the choices that you make, put more serenity and tranquility in your life, preserve memory function by combating inflammation and plaque formation in the brain, and a lot more.

Also, by adding more productive life to your years, you can increase your prosperity, and that in turn can help increase the number of health choices available to you. The LETs revolution is well underway and there is only one choice: to embrace it. LETs do it now.

References

  1. Vaupel JW. Biodemography of human ageing. Nature 2010 Mar 25;464(7288):536-42.
  2. Oeppen, J. & Vaupel, J. W. Broken limits to life expectancy. Science 2002;296:1029-31. [This article shows that life expectancy has increased by more than two years per decade since 1840 in the countries with highest life expectancies and that there is no imminent limit to further increases.]
  3. Lucke JC, Herbert D, Partridge B, Hall WD. Anticipating the use of life extension technologies. EMBO Rep 2010 May;11(5):334-8.
  4. Wade N. Quest for a long life gains scientific respect. New York Times, September 25, 2009.
  5. Barone M. The gathering revolt against government spending. Rasmussen Reports, May 24, 2010.

FREE Subscription

  • You're just getting started! We have published thousands of scientific health articles. Stay updated and maintain your health.

    It's free to your e-mail inbox and you can unsubscribe at any time.
    Loading Indicator