Ef­forts to de­lay ag­ing are bet­ter in­vest­ment than ad­vances in can­cer, heart disease

Wellness Update - - Contents -


On the heels of an an­nounce­ment from Google that the com­pany’s next startup, Cal­ico, will tackle the sci­ence of ag­ing, a new study shows that re­search to de­lay ag­ing and the in­fir­mi­ties of old age would have bet­ter pop­u­la­tion health and eco­nomic re­turns than ad­vances in in­di­vid­ual fatal dis­eases such as can­cer or heart disease. With even mod­est gains in our sci­en­tific un­der­stand­ing of how to slow the ag­ing process, an ad­di­tional 5 per­cent of adults over the age of 65 would be healthy rather than dis­abled ev­ery year from 2030 to 2060. Put another way, an in­vest­ment in de­layed ag­ing would mean 11.7 mil­lion more healthy adults over the age of 65 in 2060. The anal­y­sis, from top sci­en­tists at USC, Har­vard, Columbia, the Univer­sity of Illi­nois at Chicago and other in­sti­tu­tions, as­sumes re­search in­vest­ment lead­ing to a 1.25 per­cent re­duc­tion in the like­li­hood of age-re­lated dis­eases. In con­trast to treat­ments for fatal dis­eases, slow­ing ag­ing would have no health re­turns ini­tially, but would have sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits over the long term. In the United States, the num­ber of peo­ple aged 65 and over is ex­pected to more than dou­ble in the next 50 years, from 43 mil­lion in 2010 to 106 mil­lion in 2060. About 28 per­cent of the cur­rent pop­u­la­tion over 65 is dis­abled. “In the last half-cen­tury, ma­jor life ex­pectancy gains were driven by find­ing ways to re­duce mor­tal­ity from fatal dis­eases,” said lead au­thor Dana Gold­man, Leonard D. Scha­ef­fer Di­rec­tor’s Chair at the USC Scha­ef­fer Center for Health Pol­icy and Eco­nom­ics. “But now dis­abled life ex­pectancy is ris­ing faster than to­tal life ex­pectancy, leav­ing the num­ber of years that one can ex­pect to live in good health un­changed or di­min­ished. If we can age more slowly, we can de­lay the on­set and pro­gres­sion of many dis­abling dis­eases si­mul­ta­ne­ously.”

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