Forever Young, I Wanna Be Forever Young ♫

The future of anti-aging technology

If I live forever, will I look that cool? Photo courtesy of In Time movie poster gallery

It’s no secret that our society has always been obsessed with immortality and youth. Although science is not quite at the level of immortality seen in Justin Timberlake’s portrayal of a hot, forever-young human in the movie In Time, researchers have made tremendous progress in the field of anti-aging. In fact, it is really interesting to envision a world where everyone can live forever in their 25 year old body. You could go on exciting adventures with your parents and grandparents without the bodily constraints that need to be considered in our world today. Multiple generations can grow up together and exchange their years of experience and wisdom. While the idea of living forever is still within the sci-fi realms of reality, the future of anti-aging technology may actually allow us to achieve a more realistic extended lifespan without the debilitating effects that come with old age.

Today, we live in a world where the average lifespan is over 60 years old (over 80 years in developed countries). Our healthcare and technology have improved so that people now live much longer, but the recent World Report on Aging and Health by the World Health Organization indicates that with increased lifespan does not necessarily mean increased quality of life in the later years. There are still cognitive and sensory functions that naturally decay with age. We expect normally healthy people to become increasingly riddled with various chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes as they age. But why should we assume that this is the inevitable? Getting older should not have to mean that you are no longer able to go on exciting travel adventures, stay up until 3 am with friends, do insane CrossFit workouts, or run marathons. While societal norms and responsibilities may prevent you from some of those activities at a certain age (or not…no judgement), anti-aging scientists would like you to still have the option to do any of these activities! Personally, I find this to be the true appeal of anti-aging research as it opens up more opportunities without the limitations due to effects of increasing physical age. It’s not really the increased number of years added to life, but the increased number of healthy years that would be cool to achieve!

So what has science actually done so far? Since I have not yet seen a whole slew of forever-25 year-old people roaming about, I’m assuming that we have not yet achieved immortality a la In Time. *sigh* BUT don’t worry, there have still been many advances made in this field, which means we can one day attempt to be as cool (and forever young) as Justin Timberlake. Check out my next article to learn more about the science in the anti-aging field.

This is the first of a 3-article series. Part 2 of the series will focus on where science currently is in regards to anti-aging technology, while the third article will discuss the potential implications of living forever young - both the positive and negative implications.

References

  1. Can aging be ‘drugged’?
  2. A C. elegans mutant that lives twice as long as wild type
  3. A mutant drosophila insulin receptor homolog that extends life-span and impairs neuroendocrine function
  4. Longevity: Extending the lifespan of long-lived mice
  5. The man who wants to beat back aging
  6. World Report on Aging and Health
  7. The Cracked Podcast — Why you may live to be 150 and never feel older than 30
  8. Nature Medicine’s December issue focused on aging, with articles on the different genes that are associated with aging, clinical trials and potential products that target anti-aging efforts, as well as several opinion pieces on how true anti-aging products can affect healthcare policy, economics, and other issues that are not immediately apparent when considering the fountain of youth.
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