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Once Aging Is Curable, How Long Will We Live?

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From Bioscience Expert Patrick Cox - The Most Life-Changing Book You'll Read This Year - Click Here

October 1, 2018

Dear Reader,

In the past week, I talked to two unconnected researchers whose teams believe they have discovered the genetic mechanisms that control aging. More importantly, both believe that they know how to reverse those mechanisms to restore peak adult health.

If they’re right, the impact will be unprecedented—so it may be wise to begin pondering the possibility of age reversal now.

It’s probably inevitable that the ability to permanently restore animals, including humans, to the point of peak adult health will lead to the use of the word “immortal.” It is, in fact, the biological term for cells that don’t age.

You already have immortal cells in your body. They are the germline, the ova or sperm involved in sexual reproduction. Embryonic stem cells are also immortal.

Another form of immortal cell is induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are very similar to embryonic cells. I’ve had skin cells from my right arm genetically engineered into iPS cells. Cared for properly, they will live and replicate forever without aging.

Nevertheless, people who are permanently restored to peak adult health will not be immortal. Yes, regenerative medicine will reverse aging and extend healthspans dramatically—but it won’t grant us divinity or superpowers. Something will eventually kill everybody.

There’s No Shortage of Things That Could Kill You

If you travel by air, you are susceptible to the risks of aircraft failure, pilot error, and freak weather events. The odds of death are higher if you’re in a car per mile traveled. Motorcycles and bicycles entail even greater danger.

Living in South Florida, I often risk electrocution by taking a shower. If you hold a metal golf club over your head in an open expanse of grassland, you are at risk—even on a sunny day—from storms many miles away. Boaters increase their odds of being killed by lightning every time they go out on the water. Sailboats with tall masts are particularly effective lightning magnets.

Even if you showered in a Faraday cage and never left your safety bunker, you could join the 5,000 Americans who die of food poisoning every year. If you eat alone, the risk of death by choking goes up.

If you’re ever around bugs, birds, rodents, cats, dogs, or other animals, you are at risk because the pathogens they carry occasionally mutate into lethal diseases. If you live in a region subject to earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes, floods, or sinkholes, you are subject to potentially lethal dangers.

You get the point. There is no way to completely protect yourself from “freak accidents.” The ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus was killed by a turtle dropped by an eagle. I might have doubted the story, but I used to live next to a tree with nesting eagles that regularly dropped large fish on my roof and yard.


Source: wikipedia

The risk of being killed by something other than aging is relatively low over the average lifespan of about 80 years, even factoring in traffic accidents, homicide, and suicide. However, it’s a mathematical truism that the probability of dying from something other than an age-related disease will go up over longer lifespans.

Actuarial scientists can estimate how long people would live on average if old age were taken out of the picture.

So let’s play a game...

Guess How Long the Average Non-Aging Human Would Live?

To inform your decision and separate the answer from the question, here a few charts from the CDC on causes of US mortality by age group. The first includes all causes of death, highlighting nonmedical causes. The second ranks all injury deaths and highlights accidental deaths.


Source: CDC


Source: CDC

The answer, according to some actuarial scientists, is that life expectancy in a developed society without old-age-related deaths would be 600–700 years. That assumes, of course, that people in the future won’t be subject to significantly more or fewer risks. Either is possible.

Clearly, a 650-year healthspan is a lot longer—and I’d argue better—than the current 80-year life expectancy. It’s also a very long way from true immortality. Some people, due to bad luck, wouldn’t live past current normal lifespans. Others would live longer than average.

Curiously, the lifespans attributed to the biblical patriarchs, including Methuselah, are pretty close to the sort of mortality distribution we could expect to see in non-aging populations. I’m telling you this only because it’s interesting, not because I’m trying to make some religious point.

It does, however, make the title of my book, The Methuselah Effect, more meaningful. I didn’t actually come up with the title; that credit goes to my editor Shannara. We’re currently revising the book to include dramatic new discoveries that have emerged in the last year or two.

We’re on the Threshold of Something Big

Regarding the two researchers I referenced earlier: I don’t know everything about their discoveries and can’t tell you some things that I do know. These scientists will obviously keep many important details secret until they’ve filed patents and published the results of their trials. What I do know, though, is that they are looking at very similar components of cellular and genetic biology.

In the past, the process of aging was explained using vague hand-waving theories about the body just wearing out due to accumulated damage. I predict we’ll see a new consensus on aging emerge in the next few years.

The new view will be that aging is caused by specific molecular and genetic mechanisms that fully kick in sometime after childhood. Therefore, interventions will not only halt aging but reverse it by restoring regenerative mechanisms normally seen only in embryonic cells.

The attitudes and beliefs of scientists change long before they trickle down to the public, but I expect we’ll see evidence of this profound paradigm shift in peer-reviewed journals within two to three years.

This is the kind of information I keep my TransTech Alert subscribers up to date on—not just in the monthly newsletter, but in my in-depth weekly updates. Aside from our “Top 15” portfolio, I also write about early-stage private companies in the anti-aging and life-extension space whose technologies could literally change the world. You can try TransTech Alert risk-free for 90 days, with a full money-back guarantee.

Sincerely,
Patrick Cox
Patrick Cox
Editor, Transformational Technology Alert

Mauldin Economics

 

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From Bioscience Expert Patrick Cox - The Most Life-Changing Book You'll Read This Year - Click Here

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Gordon Foreman

Oct. 2, 1:08 p.m.

Pat,
Interesting article, but you left out probably the most likely cause of death, which is war. Our recent experience in the US has led us to believe that war is something that happens in other parts of the world, and as such, not something that threatens us, but over the course of even a hundred years, the probability of war on our own soil is likely to approach 50%.
Now you may feel that longevity technology will reduce the probability of war, but I consider that simply an assumption. It would be interesting to see some science fiction writers tackle the issue.
Another question is whether someone who is 100 or more years old would be willing to go fight for anything other than pure defense of his home. How much of that “fighting spirit” that is commonly found in young males of the human race would be restored if their health and vigor were restored to a youthful state? There’s no way to know until we get there.
In any case, I suspect your list is incomplete and based on a limited baseline.

Gordon Foreman

brad@joneslabs.com

Oct. 1, 8:38 p.m.

Patrick, Can you give us a link with a little more information on why you had some iPS cells made? What was the reasoning behind doing this? Why would one do it? Thank you, Brad


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