80 is the new 65

Los Angeles Times editorial on how our expectations of the aging population must change to cope with longer life spans.

LORRY LOKEY, the founder of Business Wire, recently donated $33 million to build a stem cell research center at Stanford’s medical school.

“The important thing to me is that stem cells might not only extend life, but also improve the quality of life, as so many people suffer in their later years,” said Lokey, who is close to 80 years old.

The health and wellness goals of this initiative are solid, but most Americans are just recognizing the alarming social and political consequences of longer, healthier lives.

Lokey is generous, and he’s right. Stem cell research may add years and health to our lives. But all that extra time and well-being won’t be entirely cost-free. It’s time to start thinking about the changes biotechnology will bring to our lives and realizing that we haven’t planned for what science is about to provide.

The good news is that science is going to be offering better cures faster than most expect. Cancer researchers already use nano-size particles to deliver targeted chemotherapy that acts like a “smart bomb,” killing off cancer cells and leaving the surrounding cells with low levels of toxicity. This makes the therapy more effective and less damaging to the body, ultimately saving more lives.

Pharmaceutical companies are developing drugs to fight the crisis of obesity, which leads to diabetes, heart disease and premature death. British bio-gerontologist Aubrey de Grey and others are pursuing a goal of “engineered negligible senescence” — which would in theory eliminate most of the physical damage of aging and lead to indefinite life spans.

Already, as life spans have increased and fertility science has advanced, women have started putting off childbearing until later in life. When it’s possible to live 120 years or more, women may put it off longer or not have children at all.

It’s amazing how quickly the potential for life extension has entered into the public consciousness.  Ten years ago this type of editorial would have drawn snickers.  And this coming from one of the USA’s most widely read newspapers.

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3 Responses to “80 is the new 65”

  1. andreaware Says:

    good indepth piece on living longer. being in my 30’s, realize that it is not

    a farfetched fact that I will live well into my 90’s. question still remains,

    how to take care of me? working longer is the only answer. thank good-

    I love my job. and yes, I am one of those who chose to remain childless.

  2. Wayne Gill Says:

    Guess it’s back to school and a new resume; after years of retirement. Quite a change! Sounds good to me!!!

  3. Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D. Says:

    Thank you for your interesting post!
    I thought perhaps you may also find this related story interesting to you:
    Longevity Science: SENS
    http://longevity-science.blogspot.com/2007/01/sens.html

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