Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feeling old? Take a pill.

People have been searching for the Fountain of Youth for centuries – and ultimately, what they've discovered so far is, you can’t really stay young or stop aging, but now scientists are trying to find a way to make people live longer by mimicking what they call the ‘longevity gene’.

This article from Reuters talks about the pharmaceutical industry’s push to develop a drug that will help people live longer. Scientists are studying centenarians around the world to figure out what in their genetic makeup has contributed to such long lives.

Clearly, as I think the article implies, long life is a factor of luck, having the right genes will help you live longer – of course coupled with a healthy diet and lifestyle. I find it interesting that the ‘answer’ to helping people live longer, healthier lives is automatically thought to be found in drugs. We can make a pill for that!

I have to admit, I find centenarians to be fascinating. What I’ve noticed about those 100-year-olds who appear in the news is that a good portion of them [well, okay, all] – have lived through world wars, many have even served in them. This certainly doesn’t equate to the safe environment the article cites as a factor in long life. Many of these people have held difficult or tedious jobs, they’ve existed at the poverty level in some cases, they’ve raised children and navigated our stressful society or even those deemed more stressful and managed to survive. So how do they really do it? Is it just luck? Good genes, good timing, good life choices? Or is it something the rest of us can really hope to emulate without having to fork over our Medicare Part D dollars for the ‘longevity pill?’

I wish the scientists would take a break from trying to develop new drugs and start really looking at longevity as something inherent in the human condition – something we can all achieve if we know how, not just if our (mandatory) health insurance covers it.


  1. Not convinced longevity would ever trump quality of life...