Monday, 1 May 2017

Don't Fear a Longer Life!

When antiaging and longevity is your passion, it is unfortunately common that other people will not share your enthusiasm. Many people will try to dismiss and belittle you, sometimes because they do not understand this unconventional specialty. Some people just don't want to live longer - but why?

A few years ago, the Queensland University of Technology asked the same thing in a survey. Five percent thought they'd be bored. A third thought that they would just spend their extra years in poor health, and a sixth thought they wouldn't be able to afford it. Twelve percent were afraid to outlive their family and friends.

Hope is much more preferable to irrational fear.
This is an incredibly foreign concept for someone like me, as living well beyond 80 or 90 is common in my family and I ghostwrite for someone who began a new career in their 50s. I'm not alone in perceiving it as strange, as the word to describe it, "gerontologiphobia", means an irrational fear of life extension research. The popular belief is that because much of our life extension success to date has been achieved by reducing deaths from acute, easier-to-prevent causes (e.g. infections from poor access to water and sanitation), and chronic illnesses such as cancer and diabetes are multifactorial, so prevention is harder to understand, longer life must mean more disability and slower, harsher deaths. However, when treasury secretary Ken Henry looked at our rising life expectancies, he found something much different. Between 2003 and 2015, the life expectancy for Australian men rose by 2.6 years, and for women it rose by 1.7 years. Disability-free life expectancy rose by 3.9 years for men, and 3 years for women, so we are spending even less time severely ill. You may notice that most people don't look "their age" anymore, but hard statistics really drives it home. This is also good news for the Australian government, as they will increase the pension age from 65 to 65.5 this July.

Because of improved living standards, healthier lifestyles and more knowledge of holistic prevention, incidence of cancer and dementia may be starting to fall. Statistics from the USA, covering the years 1998-2006, show that cancer incidence fell by an average of 1.3% per year for men (2000-6), and 0.5% per year for women (1998-2006). Another study from the USA found that the risk of dementia among over-65s dropped by almost a quarter, from 11.6% to 8.8%, between 2000 and 2012. Much of this is thought to be caused by improved education. Overall, you don't have to worry about poor health and quality of life,

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