Americans are living longer than ever before, but gains in longevity are not distributed evenly throughout the country. The gaps, which in some cases span decades, have the potential to either get better or worse depending upon longevity technology adoption patterns, making this the right time to start thinking about the issue.
Read more here.
The United States is a wealthy and successful superpower, so you’d think that when it comes to life expectancy, its citizens would be in the top 10, right? Not even close: the US currently ranks 42 among the world’s countries, a bad sign for long-term economic growth, which is strongly correlated with longevity.
The top spot in longevity rankings goes to Monaco with a life expectancy of 89.57; the bottom country, Chad, has a life expectancy of 49.44 – a striking 40 year difference (the age John Lennon was when he died). The United States, at 79.56, is a full decade behind the top spot when it comes to life expectancy. Why does this matter, other than the fact that death is bad? For one thing, it affects international competitiveness.
Read more here.
Here’s a well written article from Nature about how scientists should be focusing on aging in order to
1) treat a number of diseases and
2) extend healthspan for the many people who are in the ‘older’ demographic
“Harriette Thompson, who ran her first marathon at age 76, set a U.S. record on Sunday for the fastest finish in her 90-and-over age group, finishing the 26.2-mile Rock’n’Roll San Diego Marathon in seven hours, seven minutes and 42 seconds, according to race organizer Dan Cruz.”
A new study published in the Lancet today showed that almost 29% of the world’s population, or 2.1 billion people, are obese. The reason this is such a huge problem is that being overweight increases one’s risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer. New technologies are being developed that will allow people to live longer, but they can only do so much. Obesity is one of the biggest threats to human longevity.
Here’s a few article about the study:
“Age should no longer determine the appropriate end of a working life,” writes the Economist Magazine. This seems reasonable to me, especially given that people are healthier now than ever before (and thus able to work longer). But as the magazine points out, there will be a divide between older, well-educated, individuals and those who spent their careers in less-skilled areas. Those who are well-educated are more likely to stay in the workforce, while those with fewer skills are more likely to take retirement even if they are still in good health. From the article:
“Some 65% of American men aged 62-74 with a professional degree are in the workforce, compared with 32% of men with only a high-school certificate. In the European Union the pattern is similar.”
How to address this divide? The Economist suggests training programs — also not a bad idea. “Today, many governments are understandably loth to spend money retraining older folk who are likely to retire soon. But if people can work for longer, that investment makes much more sense.” Here’s another link to the longer briefing.
A British television station recently produced a fun film about women (with an average age of 80) who are redefining fashion for their age group. Dressing your age? I think not. Here’s the story.
Today’s news that Google is launching a new company (Calico) to fight aging is epic. Epic. Fighting aging used to be the realm of biologists and doctors, but now that the engineers are getting involved, progress will likely move much faster. This is very good news for those of us who want to see health spans extended for everyone.
Here’s Time’s breaking story.
Here’s my op-ed about it.
Here’s Aubrey de Grey’s op-ed.
A new WHO report notes that women over 50 are now living longer. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the diseases of aging like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are still big problems. More reason than ever to tackle the problem of aging and the diseases that it brings. Here’s a short NYT story on the WHO report.
A cool idea by the folks over at SENS. Nice of them to include me along amazing people like inventor Dean Kamen whose comment is “Aging is a terrible game. You can’t win and you have to play.” Check it out.
Here’s an interesting survey by the Pew Foundation.
Asked whether they, personally, would choose to undergo medical treatments to slow the aging process and live to be 120 or more, a majority of U.S. adults (56%) say “no.” But roughly two-thirds (68%) think that most other people would. And by similarly large margins, they expect that radically longer life spans would strain the country’s natural resources and be available only to the wealthy.
Of course, most people are probably not considering that technologies that can increase healthspan (rather than longevity per se) will also help us better manage our resources and create wealth.
This Newsweek article contains an excellent conversation about longevity — how we might live longer and what that might mean.
Here’s one of my favorite parts of the NW interview with Aubrey de Grey:
NW: But would we really want to live forever?
De Grey: The reason why we want to live a long time is not to live a long time. It’s that we want to not get Alzheimer’s. Do you want to get Alzheimer’s?
NW: Not particularly.
De Grey: All right. Do you think there’s some age at which you will want to get Alzheimer’s?
NW: Probably not.
De Grey: Exactly. It’s the same for cancer and other diseases. That’s why it’s so important for me to emphasize that any longevity benefits that we get out of this are just a side effect.
It’s well known that there are great disparities in life expectancy around the world and within the US, but how many people know the numbers for their neighborhoods? Today I dug into the data for San Mateo County and found a big divide within just a few miles. In Atheton and Belmont, the current average age of death is 80 years. In East Palo Alto, it is 61.8. Here’s links to the data.
Wealth is of course one factor, but there are many others. Steve Jobs, who was amazingly wealthy, died at 56.
Another beautiful case of the ‘old’ not really being quite so old. 80-year-old Yuichiro Miura reached the top of Everest and called his daughter, saying that “This is the best feeling in the world.” Gotta love it. Here’s the WSJ article covering it.
Here’s the link. I think this could have been a longer list, but maybe the writers didn’t have time. Here’s an article I wrote in a similar theme called “Science Fiction Gets Funding.”
Can be found here. And here is an info-graphic. This initiative is an important step, since the brain is the least understood of all our body parts. As the population ages, and people are able to remain healthy in other respects, brain issues will become paramount.
Backed by tech luminaries, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, a $3 million reward, is being presented to 11 different scientists for their efforts to cure diseases.
Here’s a link to the actual prize site.
Google’s Sergey Brin and wife Anne Wojcicki, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan, and VC Yuri Milner together put forward the funds for the prizes. They are, of course, not the first tech moguls to dedicate serious cash towards this area. Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Microsoft’s Paul Allen, and PayPal’s Peter Thiel have all contributed large amounts to promoting healthy life extension (read about it in chapter 8 of my book, 100 Plus). The Breakthrough Prize is another fantastic example of how tech titans are driving interest in the longevity meme. A big thank you to all of them!
Cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s — these are all diseases of aging, yet some people are willing to argue that aging is a good thing. That’s the question at hand at this Oxford University Scientific Society Debate between SENS Foundation Chief Science Officer Dr. Aubrey de Grey and neuroscientist Prof. Colin Blakemore. It happens live in the UK at 11am PST and I’m told the video will be online soon after. I’ll link to it when it is available.
Here’s a fun app from my friends over at 100Plus, the company (I’m an advisor). They are releasing this app at SXSW, but you can try it out even if you’re not attending.
Here’s a great article by Forbes columnist Bruno Aziza on big data and staying healthy. It also mentions 100Plus, a cool new company started by Chris Hogg that focuses on predicting your health. If you’re an engineer, designer, data hacker or communicator who is super-interested in these issues, the company is hiring. Check it out!