Re: Hayflick and others deny major life expectancy improvements

Date: Sun Feb 18 2001 - 19:29:22 MST

Damien Broderick, <>, writes:
> A post on another list that I cite and then respond to:
> >Hayflick said that even if the most common causes of death -
> >cancer, heart disease and stroke - were eliminated, "the increase
> >in life expectancy would be no more than 15 years."
> >With those death causes gone, he said, the true cause of death
> >would be revealed: the aging process.
> >Aging, he said, is a decline on a molecular level that makes
> >people "increasingly vulnerable to disease" and that this process
> >is not receiving much research attention.
> True in a way. But this entire argument is wrong-headed....
> So obviously superlongevity will not emerge from brushing your teeth and
> eating right. It will come from a blend of the genome program data, fast
> computational protein folding, and nanotechnology.

That makes sense, and if the point of the post above was that
superlongevity was impossible, it is a good rebuttal.

But Hayflick's comments may have been meant more as a caution that
progress against these specific diseases won't by itself change lifespan
all that much. There is a good chance that we will be able to cure
cancer, but the methods used won't necessarily lead immediately and
directly to cures for other diseases. Likewise with heart disease
and stroke. Even once we have solved these, there will still be liver
failure, diabetes, alzheimer's, dozens of other diseases waiting to
strike us down.

It's going to be a good long time before we can program nanites to go
through our bodies and find and fix any cells that aren't up to snuff.
That's a highly advanced nanotech application.

But I hope and expect that many of the worst diseases we face today will
be dealt with in more conventional ways well before then. Hayflick's
point is that this strategy can add years and even decades to our lives,
but unfortunately not that many.


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