XI. Invest in Aging Research
Currently available medical interventions seem to be increasing the average life expectancy of the world’s population. However, there is no evidence of a corresponding increase in our maximum lifespan. The world record holder for longevity, Jeanne Calment of France, passed away years ago, back in 1997 at the age of 122. No one has since come close to reaching age 122. So, we must seek and identify medical interventions that will not only increase life expectancy, but have the potential to also increase maximum lifespan.
Age is considered the leading risk factor for disease and death in developing nations after approximately age 30, so diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and stroke are all considered aging-related or aging-associated diseases. Most people have heard comments like “It’s too bad Grandma had a stroke, but she is almost 85 years-old.” That’s a rational statement, but few truly recognize that the aging process is the culprit, not stroke (or Alzheimer’s, or cancer, etc.). Fewer still understand that even if you did cure cancer, heart disease, and stroke, which account for almost 75% of deaths in people over age 65, life expectancy would only increase by about 15 years and maximum lifespan would not change. That is why resources must be devoted to understanding and treating the fundamental processes of aging, not its symptoms.
Dramatic medical breakthroughs could occur by the year 2045 without your involvement. There are a number of aging research fields that show promise (link: Aging Research Fields). But, the more time and energy devoted to them, the quicker they will occur. So, if you have resources that can be devoted to aging research, you should.
The preferred way to support further development of therapies for aging is through charitable donations supporting directly the most promising aging research. This should be aging research that has both the potential to increase maximum lifespan and to become available commercially within 10-15 years. These donations should be treated as “investments by venture philanthropists”, not blank checks. But instead of seeking a cash return, seek to make available a breakthrough medical treatment that can extend maximum human lifespan.
XI. Invest in Aging Research,