Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ending Aging

Hello again,

Yesterday we attended a talk hosted by the World Future Society at the Community College of Baltimore in Essex, MD given by Dr. Aubrey de Grey. He is a Cambridge graduate and the author of the 2007 book "Ending Aging." He was an hour late and he only spoke a half hour, but it was an interesting talk, never-the-less.

I learned about him after picking up his book a few months ago and
found what he wrote to be very interesting. He is the director of a foundation called SENS (www.sens.org).

Dr. Aubrey de Grey is optimistic that with the help of technology we will be able to live longer. Although he stressed in his talk that his focus is not only about longevity, but more importantly, about improving our health. For some reason, he doesn't believe that supplements, etc. add to our longevity, yet he does believe in preventative medicine.

In his talk, Dr. de Grey used the description of a car, which is a machine, and as it ages, is maintained and repaired and therefore can live well beyond its intended life span (in his example - 50 years). He believes that we can do the same thing to the human body - treat it like a machine. Each time we extend our lives, then that buys us time for newer technology to add more life.

Just the act of living causes oxidation in our bodies, so that is an inherent part of our lives. Damage to the body caused by oxidation accumulates over time, and instead of focusing our efforts on what causes this damage, we should repair the damage.

I asked the question: "There are assumptions in your theory, that the patient will get to the doctor on time, that the doctor is well trained in this new technology, and that the insurance companies will pay for these services." His answer was that his main focus is on the biological aspect and that these issues will come up and will need to be addressed at some point.

After the talk, I went up to him and mentioned to him about the incidence in cancer rising in the US and with environmental factors like radiation and pollution contributing to it, that it will be difficult to be healthy, but there was a long line of students behind me, so I didn't get a chance to talk at length on that dear subject.

2 comments:

Brandon Berg said...

Your comment, as I understand it, applies to all medical treatments. Obviously if you don't go to the doctor, or your doctor doesn't know about a new treatment, or you can't afford it, you won't benefit from it. It's not really clear from your post what point you were trying to make with this.

Patty Apostolides said...

Brandon,

Thank you for pointing that out. Yes, it does apply to all medical treatments but my point was about this technology that Dr. de Grey is talking about - that extends people's lives. It may not be accessible to everyone (health insurance might not pay for it) and many people will not be aware of it (because they did not read about it or their doctor is not trained in that technique).