Science Takes on Death
A longevity pill that helps everyone live to 100 or older is years off. But Bill Gifford, who surveyed the scientific landscape (and put his own body under the microscope) in his new book, Spring Chicken: How to Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying) (Grand Central Publishing), found a few substances that
might help us cruise past the usual 80-plus mark.
Rapamycin has been found to extend the lives of both healthy and cancer-stricken mice and is currently approved by the FDA for suppressing the immune system in kidney transplant patients. The hitch: the microbe hampers your immune system and could make you more vulnerable to infections, and it may increase insulin resistance, a contributor to diabetes. “It has the most potential but also the greatest number of side effects,” Gifford says.
Metformin (a common diabetes drug) has extended the lifespan of mice, and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer in human diabetics. “There may come a day when everyone over 50 will take it, but we’re not there yet,” says Gifford.
Aspirin and ibuprofen may eventually prove to have modest effects on lifespan because the pills reduce inflammation, a major contributor to aging. Still, when overused, both can cause stomach ulcers and bleeding.