Aging and life expectancy [was Re: leukemia history?]

Robert J. Bradbury (
Tue, 7 Dec 1999 08:57:37 -0800 (PST)

On Mon, 6 Dec 1999, Spike Jones wrote:

> o Leukemia Drug Produces Dramatic Results
> If leukemia suddenly disappears as a life threat, by how much does
> our life expectancy increase? I guess it is scaled depending on one's
> age? spike

Not very much. Leukemia isn't one of the significant cancer risks. I'm not positive but I believe it affects children more than adults so you might get a slight boost in life expectancy (saving 1 child helps more than saving 5-50 adults in terms of Years of Potential Life Lost).

If you get rid of all of the major killers (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.) you only bump the life expectancy something like 8-12 years. The implication being that we really don't know what kills the oldest-old. Richard Cutler says everything wears out.

One of the things I'm going to do is review the NIA's 5 year plan.

I urge those of you who really really want to make progress on understanding aging, to review this and offer them some pithy comments on anything in their perspective implying that aging cannot be solved. I suspect the people reading this list know more about solving aging than most of the peopla at the NIA. But they are the ones who award the grants, so influencing them whatever way we can is useful.

Just as a heads up, though I've never read it myself, my understanding is that the "Mission Statement" of the NIA (as determined by Congress) roughly translates to "study aging" not "solve aging".