The field of ageing research is full of characters. We have hucksters claiming that cures for ageing can be bought and sold; prophetic seers, their hands extended for money, warning that immortality is nigh; and would-be Nobelists working methodically in laboratories in search of a pill to slow ageing.
I'm not sure the least educated members of the population are missing out on the advances in medical technology as much as they are adopting harmful behavioral habits that shorten their life.
A lot of people are living in a dream world - they want to deny that aging occurs or believe it doesn't have to occur. They'll hold on to this belief until the moment they die. The reality will eventually hit them.
The reason we have cancer and heart disease is the same reason you can't get rid of the wear and tear on your tires on your car: as soon as you use them, you are wearing them away. You can't make eternal tires, and it's the same with the human body.
You can open up a centenarian's brain, and you'll see some areas that look like that of a 50-year-old or of a 110-year-old. You can have variation in the basic process of aging, called senescence, in different parts of the same body.
Someone will eventually succeed in this hunt for a longevity pill, and when they do, one of the greatest advances in the history of medicine will have been achieved.
While eliminating smallpox and curtailing cholera added decades of life to vast populations, cures for the chronic diseases of old age cannot have the same effect on life expectancy. A cure for cancer would be miraculous and welcome, but it would lead to only a three-year increase in life expectancy at birth.
What we know for sure from our work and from others' is that mice have a life span of 1,000 days, dogs have 5,000 days, and we humans have 29,000 days. Recognizing that the duration is limited, and aging is inevitable, focus the attention on enhancing the quality of the days you have.
Fixing obesity is going to require a change in our modern relationship with food. I'm hopeful that we begin to see a turnaround in this childhood obesity epidemic.
We have grown accustomed to the wonders of clean water, indoor plumbing, laser surgery, genetic engineering, artificial joints, replacement body parts, and the much longer lives that accompany them. Yet we should remember that the vast majority of humans ever born died before the age of 10 from an infectious disease.
Reducing caloric intake is the only proven method of extending life. If caloric intake is reduced to 20 percent below maintenance, you can extend your lifespan considerably.
The real problem is that there's a tendency to associate ageing with loss and decline and things that aren't desirable. But experiencing all that there is to experience in life - whether that's at the age of ten or thirty or fifty or eighty - is what life is all about.
The evolutionary theory of senescence can be stated as follows: while bodies are not designed to fail, neither are they designed for extended operation.
In the developed world, we live 30 years longer, on average, than our ancestors born a century ago, but the price we pay for those added years is the rise of chronic diseases.
Physical immortality is seductive. The ancient Hindus sought it; the Greek physician Galen from the 2nd Century A.D. and the Arabic philosopher/physician Avicenna from the 11th Century A.D. believed in it.
The modern rise of Alzheimer's Disease in the twentieth century is not a sign of failure. It's a sign of success. Success in living long enough to see that disease expressed.
Exercise is roughly equivalent to an oil lube and a filter for a car. You don't have to do it, but when you do, it makes the car run a lot better.
The bodies we have are not made for extended use. We must cope with accumulated DNA damage, cell damage, muscle atrophy, bone loss, decreased muscle mass, and joints worn out from overuse during a lifetime of bipedal locomotion. It might have worked great for prehistoric humans, but it wreaks havoc on our knees and hips.
Ageing is very rare. We only see it in humans and laboratory animals and in zoo animals and in our pets. Basically, organisms that are protected from the external world. Once you create that protection, you live long enough to see ageing.
As long as humans have existed, we have always desired to live longer. Every society, every religion, every culture. Of course, they all failed at dramatic life extension.