Researcher suggests slowing the aging process
Learning how to turn back time – or at least how to slow the aging process – may be more important for improving our overall health than the discovery of a cure for cancer, says Queen’s Political Studies professor Colin Farrelly.
In an article published on-line today by the British Medical Journal, Dr. Farrelly argues that there are real, tangible benefits, for society as well as individuals, to slowing down the aging process. “By extending the life span, people would remain in the workforce longer, personal income and savings would increase, age entitlement programs would face less pressure from shifting demographics, and national economies would flourish,” he says.
The fact that increased longevity has been demonstrated in laboratory organisms like worms, flies and mice, indicates that aging is not an immutable process, suggests Dr. Farrelly. If human aging was slowed by seven years, the age specific risk of death, frailty and disability would be reduced by about half that at every age. People who reach the age of 50 in the future would have the health profile and disease risk of today’s 43-year-old; those aged 60 would resemble 53-year-olds, and so on.
Almost half of the current population over 75 years old is limited in their activity by chronic conditions, with costs to society set to rise dramatically, Dr. Farrelly notes. “Given the current predicament we face, we can’t ignore the call to tackle aging more aggressively. To those who ask: ‘Can we really afford to invest more in such research?’ we can reply: ‘Can we really afford not to tackle aging?’”
The Queen’s researcher concludes that the greatest obstacle will be convincing the general public that slowing the aging process is both feasible and deserving of a larger share of the funds available for scientific research.
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