Sunday, September 23, 2018

JAMA Viewpoint Piece on Geroscience

One of my favorite longevity experts has a compelling new viewpoint article out in the JAMA calling for a shift from lifespan to healthspan research. A sample:

When public health emerged in the late 19th century, including developments such as sanitation and clean water, early mortality swiftly declined. A rapid shift in the distribution of death from younger to older people occurred during the first half of the 20th century, and since then declining death rates at middle and older ages have led to survival into increasingly older ages. As a result, about 96% of infants born in developed nations today will live to age 50 years or older, more than 84% will survive to age 65 years or older, and 75% to 77% of all deaths will predictably occur between age 65 and 95 years.2

....There is a dilemma. Modern medicine continues its relentless pursuit of life extension without considering either the consequences of success or the best way to pursue it. The current focus of most of modern medicine is on chronic fatal age-related diseases, in much the same way infectious diseases were confronted more than a century ago (ie, one at a time as if independent of each other). Even though there have been some successes, further life extension in an aging world will expose the saved population to an elevated risk for all other aging-related diseases.

Olshansky's life table (attached here) of deaths for women in the US over the past century vividly illustrates the challenges moving forward. Be sure to check out the full article (linked above), a must read for those interested in global aging.