Social Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Why are we wasting time on finding out anti-aging mechanisms?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38828 points ) April 22nd, 2012

Articles like this are common now. Why are we trying to fight aging? Are you in favor of this research?

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64 Answers

Charles's avatar

Is your question valid? You assume “we” are “wasting” time. If someone is making money doing it, is that wasting time?

If you ever want to make money, take advantage of the insecurities people have one of which is aging.

Blondesjon's avatar

I agree. We need to start focusing 100% of our attention on developing ant-dying mechanisms.

i don’t mind getting old. i’m just not looking forward to getting dead.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Charles Making money doesn’t justify wasting time. Obviously.

Charles's avatar

“Making money doesn’t justify wasting time. Obviously.”

Very few people try to find anti aging mechanism without some sort of financial benefit. Do you know of any?

Coloma's avatar

Because we are a youth obsessed society and growing in narcissism by leaps and bounds. No, I do not agree with fearful obsession in preserving our youth and extending our shelf life unnaturally.
I am 52, a pretty woman, but I accept my aging and mortality and while I enjoy looking nice, I have zero desire to go under the knife, lift my face, ass or breasts. No thanks, I’m a natural woman and I fully accept the return movement.
I have known many females in my age bracket that are so fucking over the top neurotic about their looks and aging process. I find it sad at best, dangerous at worst.

abysmalbeauty's avatar

Because most people would be happy to use the miracle product or procedure to age more slowly or healthfully while stuffing their faces with Twinkies and Marlboros.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Charles No, I do not. Yet, those who are not benefiting from these efforts financially still want them to continue.

ChaosCross's avatar

I’m not particularly one who thinks much over the fear of death, but I know many people who are. Personally I feel it is not the most important of fields of study humanity as a whole could be pursuing, but I know it is one we will follow, because most people nowadays are quite terrified to bite the dust.

Coloma's avatar

Millions have gone before us and millions and billions will go after us. It is what it is. Don’t fear the reaper. ;-)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ChaosCross Vs. what other time in history?

rooeytoo's avatar

I just want to be healthy until I die, whether I could put off the time of my death is not something I think about. But the older I get, the more fearful I become of a debilitating illness. So personally I would rather see money spent on curing the diseases that plague us today, that would benefit young, old and everyone in between.

Trillian's avatar

I don’t feel the need to dictate what another person pursues academically. Lots of scientific studies out there are not what I would personally choose. But I spend my own time, I don’t try to tell others that their time is “wasted” simply because I don’t agree with what they do.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Trillian Well, that’s nice. Thanks.

wundayatta's avatar

I can’t imagine why you would think it is a waste of time trying to extend life. It seems to me that it is instinctual to try to hold onto life. Life is the most precious thing there is. People generally try to hold onto that which they find precious. I’m sure it’s precious to you, too.

It seems pretty reasonable to try to preserve that which is precious to us. There’s aren’t a lot of people running around saying they want to die. Most of them are sick. It’s illegal to kill yourself, anyway. So it seems completely sensible to try to preserve life as long as possible.

I think this research is very promising and could well lead to Nobel prizes. Throughout history, humans have been trying to expand their lifespans. People like Kurzweil say that we who are now living will see technology that could expand our lives indefinitely.

So this is far from a waste of time. In fact, it is arguably the most important work being done by humans, anywhere.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta It shouldn’t be illegal to kill oneself but that’s neither here nor there. Extending life when life as is isn’t sustainable on this planet is counter-productive, in my opinion.

wundayatta's avatar

Ah. Why do you think life isn’t sustainable?

Coloma's avatar

I agree 10,000% with @Simone_De_Beauvoir

No-thing is permanent, and nature has already designed a PERFECT system, we have no business tampering with evolution and natural selection. Don’t mess with mother nature and make your peace with the fleetingness of life.

Sunny2's avatar

Beats me. Maybe some one is looking for another area in which to produce jobs? We’ve lost so many.

wildpotato's avatar

I’d guess that most of the motivation is fear. I am in favor of extending human life because I feel some fear of death, but more because I want to see what happens next, and because I love being this embodied consciousness.

Seek's avatar

I don’t know about anti-aging in particular, but I can say it kinda pisses me off a little every time I see the commercial for the prescription eyelash-thickening cream. Like that is the most pressing matter in need of medical research dollars.

roundsquare's avatar

What makes something a waste of time? I don’t see how this is a waste of time at all.
1) The science of aging is interesting.
2) Lots of people want to live longer and these people are helping them do it.
3) Who knows what links this will have to other areas of biology?

@Coloma Why do you think nature’s system is perfect?

Also, if humans are a part of that system, wouldn’t everything humans do also be a part of that system and thus part of the perfect system? (This may seem pedantic but my point is that it seems a bit inconsistent to me to say the system is perfect except for this one part of it).

Coloma's avatar

@roundsquare Because it is what would naturally occur without intervention. Therefore it is perfect. It’s no mystery that 99% of the time man attempts to alter the natural course of destiny things go dreadfully wrong. I just watched a documentary on wild horses being injected with birth control drugs. When the drugs wore off the mares cycles were so out of sync that they were foaling in late fall/early winter and the foal mortality rate was devastating. Good job…trying to prevent over population fucked with the existing populations and created a decline in the animals.

I don’t think anyone can argue that the development of nuclear weapons has no positive effect whatsoever. It is arrogant as hell that man feels he is in some supreme position to try and change the natural order of things.

roundsquare's avatar

@Coloma Various points (that aren’t necessarily connected)...
1) I’m not sure why it is considered intervention. If humans are part of nature then so is human action. Thus, its a part of nature.
2) Even if we consider it to be intervention, I don’t see why intervention is necessarily bad. It seems to me that it depends on exactly what the intervention is.
3) You do have examples of times when humans have done things and its created bad effects. But it seems like a jump to me to say that every time we intervene we make things worse. Of course, sometimes we mess things up, but is it really always true?

Coloma's avatar

@roundsquare You certainly have a point, since we ARE nature then I suppose you can argue that whatever man does is part of our evolving nature, and true, nothing is absolutely true, but certainly relatively true.
I dunno, but something just feels intrinsically wrong to me when it comes to our obsessive desire to control the universe and it’s inhabitants.
We are now losing 120 species a day, not from asteroids, not from ice ages, not from volcanos erupting but from the human species desire to hold the monopoly on everything.

I am reading a great book called ” Spontaneous evolution” right now and there is hope, but I fear too little, too late. Pretty sure inspite of all our “advances” we are on a collision course of self destruction few can deny, but deny we do as the human animal is the only animal that has the ability to rationalize the irrational.

nikipedia's avatar

Wow, I can’t think of a single reason not to pursue this line of research. I would only advise against scientific research if it was demonstrably harmful; this appears to me to be the opposite of that. I gladly welcome the opportunity not to senesce should we choose not to, and I think attention to sustainable living is an integral and obvious component of that.

Coloma's avatar

As one wise jelly once said in re: to a similar Q. ” Who would want to live forever in a fallen world.” I second that sentiment. :-)

rooeytoo's avatar

The research is done, here is the answer!

anartist's avatar

Everyone wants to die “young” and leave a beautiful corpse.
[even if we didn’t live fast enough]

Adagio's avatar

Dying is an inevitability, why waylay it for an extra five years or so, no I’m not in favour of spending millions or billions of dollars on extending life unreasonably, our life expectancy has raised naturally just by virtue of the fact that we eat better, generally speaking of course, and have more knowledge about looking after our health, speaking for myself it seems enough to me to take care of myself by natural means.

funkdaddy's avatar

It’s worth mentioning that most of the people in this discussion would have passed long ago if life expectancy hadn’t more than doubled in the last 100 years.

I find it hard to believe that every year after your mid 30’s has been a waste. I’m glad all those scientists and doctors that came before continued their research.

ucme's avatar

Wasting time in itself could be construed as “anti-aging”

Bellatrix's avatar

Prior to reading the article I assumed the research must be about producing cosmetic products to prevent wrinkles or something. That isn’t the case though. They are talking about learning more about the aging process and the changes specific genes have on lung function/cholesterol etc. This is quite different.

We are already living longer but not necessarily staying very healthy for longer. Consequently this is going to place a huge demand on our health systems and society generally. I therefore think this is very valuable research. Aging populations is a major concern for many first world countries. Governments are already trying to work out how they will manage the health care for the many long lived baby boomers they will have on their hands. Anything that will delay the onset of age related illness, the better.

ro_in_motion's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You said aboveL “Extending life when life as is isn’t sustainable on this planet is counter-productive, in my opinion.” The opposite is true.

Imagine if everyone knew they were going to live 1000 years? Even the Koch Brothers would, at least to themselves, have to acknowledge that the Earth needs to be protected. Today, they can assume they won’t be alive for the worst of it. Given life extension, they’d have to be very aware that in 100 years the Earth would be in a holocaust situation.

Let’s add one bit of social engineering: To get the 1000 year life extension, you have to agree to be sterilised after having one child.

rooeytoo's avatar

Australia would have to stop paying women to have babies whether they can support them or not!

Seek's avatar

^ Alternately, they could pay women who can’t support more children to choose to be sterilised. I’d be all over that shiz.

augustlan's avatar

Anti-aging research can have benefits, as it pertains to the ailments that afflict (but not kill) older people. I don’t think it’s necessarily about prolonging life, but making what life you have healthier and more enjoyable. Cosmetic anti-aging research is a whole different thing, and I’d much rather get rid of that aspect.

@Coloma Without intervention, people would still be dying of small pox. Would you consider that preferable?

Coloma's avatar

@augustlan No, I am all for advancements that lend themselves to better quality of life and lessening of disease, I just don’t agree with wanting to live forever. It’s one thing to cure or modify illnesses that can cause premature death but entirely another to seek a fountain of youth that extends lives far beyond their natural life span.
The planet is already under great duress from the enormous population, and if there is any hope for earth and humanity it will not come from increasing lifespan, but from a reduction in the population and a reduced birth rate.

70–100 years is already a long life, a life span that is only shared by a very few other species, like tortises. I think humans are greedy by nature and wanting to live as long as a redwood tree is sheer greed and self centeredness IMO. It denotes, yet again, mans sense of entitlement and superiority over all other sentient beings.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta I’m of the camp that believes the earth’s resources are not infinite and that having half the world live on less than a dollar a day is not ideal. You see, whenever advancements are made, only a small proportion have access to them.

ro_in_motion's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I agree thatEarth’s resources are finite and the average standard of living is horrid.

I am in favor of life extension research for a number of side reasons:
1. This research will no doubt discover any number of wonderful other discoveries.
2. As @augustlan says, this has immediate uses. Link
3. The more we know, the better our options in handling our known problems as well as ‘out of context’ ones.

Bellatrix's avatar

In 2021 it is expected over 1 million people in the “UK:http://alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=412 will be affected by dementia.

By 2031, nearly 600,000 people are projected to suffer from dementia in Australia.

Over 15 million dementia sufferers in the US by 2051.

These people are going to be a drain on our health, family systems and communities. Research like this might help to unlock the keys to why people develop dementia and what we can do about it. To me this isn’t about prolonging life at all. It is about prolonging productive, healthy life.

rooeytoo's avatar

The dramatic increases in dementia cannot all be directly related to the fact that people are living longer. There is something else or many other things contributing to the increase. I agree @Bellatrix researchers have to find out why. If people remain able to contribute to society longer than an increase in the life span is a desirable accomplishment.

Coloma's avatar

@rooeytoo I think elderly people have earned the right to be as unproductive as they want to be. This obsession with productivity until the bitter end is just, well…not healthy.
I think there’s a lot to be said for just enjoying your being which the elderly have certainly earned that reward. Our world is waaay too hung up on “productivity” IMO.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Coloma – it is up to the individual. For me personally I need structure in my life. I need to have a plan for my day and I need goals. Again for me, those ends are generally found in a job and being productive. If someone else finds satisfaction, reading, looking at grandchildren, playing in a garden, so be it. But from the perspective of my age, I have seen so many peers retire and die. I don’t know if studies have been done but it sure seems as if when a person has no responsibilities they lose their reason to live. I think I would be like that, I get antsy and crazy without structure.

So bottom line, if you want to be productive, whatever that means to you, then to keep your health both physical and mental for a longer period of time seems like a good thing to me.

(I think there should be some commas in that sentence, but hopefully you get my drift!)

Coloma's avatar

@rooeytoo Sure, each to his own, of course. I’m the opposite, I am very involved in a lot of things but think some peoples need for constant business is more anxiety related than not. I just don’t agree that people should feel pressured to be productive to the bitter end, stopping to smell the roses is a good thing. :-)

Bellatrix's avatar

I see productive as being able to spend time with my children and grandchildren and remember who they are. Or being able to visit art galleries, or see films and to travel if I want to. Or being able to go for a walk without having a heart attack. Productive doesn’t mean working in paid employment, it can mean living life. However long I live I want to be well enough to enjoy the experience.

Seek's avatar

How many of us are thinking of “Anti-aging” as the kabillions of products being put out by Clinique and Oil of Olay, and how many of us are thinking of “anti-aging” as issues pertaining typically to old people?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Bellatrix “These people are going to be a drain on our health, family systems and communities.” This is a perfect example of ageism in our society. We look at the elderly and think ‘drain.’
@Seek_Kolinahr A good question.

augustlan's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m thinking @Bellatrix meant, people with age-related illnesses will be a drain, not all elderly people.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@augustlan I got what she meant. People with age-related illnesses shouldn’t be considered a drain. That’s so unfortunate. When we are old, we all have age-related illnesses.

augustlan's avatar

Well, the young with chronic illnesses are also a drain, strictly speaking. And I’m one of them! Well, not so young, maybe, but you get my point. Not a drain that I personally mind, though. But it does cost society something, financial or otherwise, you know?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@augustlan Only because we began to think of these things as having a cost, in a neoliberal state where people now have biovalue and we can talk about them in terms of cost and value – that’s not progress, in my opinion.

augustlan's avatar

I see what you’re saying, and I think we may be arguing semantics at this point. I’m not trying to devalue anyone by saying there are costs associated with their conditions. But even if we remove the costs to society, would you not say there are costs for the individual who is living with the illness/condition? Isn’t that enough to push for some ways to mitigate or cure those conditions?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Sure, but for whom?

Bellatrix's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir you may call it ageism, I call it realism. Whether we like it or not increasing numbers of elderly people with health problems will be a drain on resources. That’s where we are heading with the aging population problem. Hence I don’t see this research as a waste at all (which was your original premise). Research such as this may lead to improvements in both physical and mental health for elderly people in the future.

augustlan's avatar

I’m not sure I’m understanding your “for whom” question, @Simone_De_Beauvoir. I meant “for the person who is suffering with an illness or condition”.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Bellatrix Hell, then you and I are on the same page if we’re talking about resources. I, too, am concerned about resources and don’t see how increasing lifespan helps the issue. @augustlan I mean, ‘for what groups of people?’ Clearly, these benefits will extend only to the rich white Westerners. It’s not like these kinds of things ever get a worldwide release and, sure, eventually, there are trickle effects but they, too, are problematic aka. someone’s making money on overpricing AIDS drugs in Africa. Am I wrong?

augustlan's avatar

Oh, ok. No, you’re not wrong. However, one hopes that will change. In the meantime, even if only a certain segment of the population will benefit, should they be denied that benefit? I mean, I’m with you, and wish the world was fairer, but it’s not there yet. Should all research that only benefits certain people be scrubbed until it is?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@augustlan Well, those are big questions. Same talk happens around gay marriage. The problem is that, at a political level, getting benefits to (by the way, always the same) certain groups is almost always at direct expense of other groups. Example: making same-sex marriage a priority in the mainstream gay and lesbian movement can happen only because transgender rights are sacrificed at every single point of this ‘progress.’

Fundamentally, I believe in research but let’s not conduct it and say it’ll benefit everyone. Let’s be realists, like @Bellatrix. Let’s not think it will be applied to all. And when we say ‘I want this for myself’, let’s remember why we get to have it.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t know that the benefits will only be for white Westerners. With the changes taking place in India, China and other countries, they are facing aging population problems too. Even Africa is also facing aging population problems but because the focus tends to be on things like the AIDS epidemic, aging tends to be low on the priority list in terms of aid. Aging population is a worldwide problem. An interesting article in the Asia News says UN estimates suggest globally there will be two elderly people for every younger person by 2050 (AsiaNews, p.13). Ninety percent of the elderly people in India will not have any social security and where culturally people would have once been taken care of by family, that is now not guaranteed and many old people are being abandoned. I would rather be healthy and old rather than reliant on healthcare services that are going to be increasingly under pressure.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Bellatrix I agree others are facing aging populations – that is if you think that’s a huge issue, anyway. That people won’t have social security is the fault of the state, not the fact that people are older. In my opinion.

wundayatta's avatar

No one would care about the aged if the aged didn’t have a lot of money to spend. What the aged want is to feel better. They want to be able to move better. Do more. Think better. Like they used to.

If they didn’t spend money on anti-aging mechanisms, or on nursing home care or whatever other services they pay for, then our economy would be much worse off because there would be so many fewer jobs.

People don’t research the elderly from the goodness of their hearts. They research them because that’s where the money is.

The young may have different priorities and many of them look at the aged and think the aged are ugly and undeserving. It’s a form of discrimination, and this question is a not-so-subtle example of how age discrimination plays out.

rooeytoo's avatar

@wundayatta – absolutely spot on!!!

(and I’m not referring to age spots!)

roundsquare's avatar

@Coloma To be fair, I do agree that humans cause a lot of problems. Its possible that the right solution is to fall back on the “old ways” (which I think is close to what you mean).

As a side note, I have heard that though we used to only live for about 30 years, humans only used to “work” for about 4 hours a day. Balances out to some degree, no?

michaelian's avatar

Isn’t it an atavistic need rather than a socio-media led phenomena?

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