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The International Association of Biomedical Gerontology, 10 th Congress. Social, Political, and Ethical Obstacles to Human Life Extension. Steven N. Austad University of Idaho USA. Longisin. Longisin. Longisin. Lo. Longisin. Longisin. Longisin. Economic Realities of Aging Research.

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Social political and ethical obstacles to human life extension l.jpg

The International Association of Biomedical Gerontology, 10th Congress

Social, Political, and Ethical Obstacles to Human Life Extension

Steven N. Austad

University of Idaho

USA


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Longisin

Longisin

Longisin

Lo

Longisin

Longisin

Longisin


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Economic Realities of Aging Research

  • FY 2004 NIH Budget:

    • 10.3% Heart, Lung, Blood

    • 17.1% Cancer

    • 15.6% Infectious Diseases

    • 3.6%Aging


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Why??

(1) People are seriously ambivalent about medically extending life


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Why The Ambivalence?

  • The Fairness Argument

  • The Malthusian Argument (Resource shortages)






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On the Other Hand… Security

  • We Don’t:

    • Encourage smoking

    • Renounce antibiotics and vaccines

    • Destroy insulin supplies

    • Reward reckless driving

    • Refuse to treat heart attack victims


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A Tactic/Scientific Mistake: Security

Our Focus has Been on Length of Life


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Aging = Functional Loss Over Time Security

Age 17 Age 52


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Aging = Functional Loss Over Time Security

Retarding Senescence

Percent Function Remaining

Age

Age

(after Nathan Shock)


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Aging = Security

  • Gradual and progressive loss of function over time, leading to:

    • Increasing incidence of death and disease

    • Decreased health and well-being*


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Mission Statement: SecurityUS National Institutes of Health

[Our]… mission is science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.


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Mission Statement: SecurityUK Medical Research Council

To encourage and support high-quality research with the aim of maintaining and improving human health


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What is Health? Security

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Preamble to the Constitution of WHO, 1946


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What is Health II? Security

Possessing the physical capability to do the activities in life that one wishes to do.


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Improving Health (by Delaying Aging) Will Affect Many SecurityChronic Conditions(Sources: National Center for Health Statistics)


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CR Security

Km run per day

AL

Age

Ready…Set…


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Why?? Security

People are seriously ambivalent about medically extending life;

Aging has no built-in constituency of energized, grieving survivors


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Why?? Security

People are seriously ambivalent about medically extending life;

Aging has no built-in constituency of devoted, grieving survivors

The naturalistic fallacy is common


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The Way It Was Security(sources Lovejoy, et al.1977; Neel & Weiss, 1975; Gage, 1988)


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Social Expectations Were Based on Short Expectations of Life Security

  • Richard II at 14 years old pacified Wat Tyler’s troops with a speech.

  • At 14, Alexander Hamilton set numerous rules for sea captains who traded with his employer’s firm.

  • Alexander the Great, a teenager at the time, led armies in battle.

  • A warrior’s young page might be made a knight at 12.

From Barzun, Dawn to Decadence* (2000),

* Published when Barzun was 93


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Good Riddance to the Way It Was Security(source for recent data: USDHHS:SSA)


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Rationale for the Effort to Slow Human Aging Security

  • Goal is improvement and preservation of health, not (necessarily) the prevention of death

  • That goal is consistent with all disease-based biomedical research efforts

  • Continuing to increase longevity by disease-based advances alone could be a major catastrophe

    • 25 - 50% of people over 85 have disabling dementia

  • Slowing aging is a much more effective approach to preserving health than treating individual diseases