Quantcast
Latest Stories

Live to 120? Most Americans say no thanks



In this Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011, file photo, first lady Michelle Obama sings and dances to exercises with staff, parents and children as she visits the Royal Castle Child Development Center, as part of the “Lets Move!” initiative in New Orleans, Louisiana. Aging specialists say for now that common sense is the best medicine: Eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight and exercise. AP PHOTO/GERALD HERBERT

WASHINGTON—Ninety birthdays maybe, but not 120: Americans hope to stretch out life expectancy another decade or so, but they are ambivalent, even skeptical, about a fountain of youth.

A new poll by the Pew Research Center explores attitudes about a scientific quest: Creating treatments that one day might slow the aging process and let people live decades longer than is normal today.

Scientists already can extend the life span of certain laboratory animals—mice, worms, flies—with various techniques. They’ve also tried with monkeys, although the evidence in that species is mixed.

There’s no way to know if there ever will be some type of Methuselah pill for humans.

But with the field growing, Pew took the public’s pulse and found most Americans wouldn’t want a treatment that would let them live to 120. Fifty-six percent said no thanks—although two-thirds expect most other people would want to try such a step, said the report issued Tuesday.

Few expect such a radical idea to become reality, at least by 2050, although most of those surveyed expect other medical advances that could more gradually extend life expectancy, such as better cancer care.

When asked about living to 120 or beyond, the survey found 51 percent of people said that would be bad for society. They worried about a strain on natural resources, and that such treatments probably would be available only to the rich rather than to everyone.

Ideal life span

What is the ideal life span? To most Americans, it’s between 79 and 100; the median answer was 90 years, Pew reported.

In the US, a child born today can expect to live 78.7 years. Women’s life expectancy is longer, 81 years, than men’s, 76.2.

With a rapidly graying population that is bringing concern about the growth of Alzheimer’s disease and an overburdened Medicare system, caution about the idea of one day living even longer may not be surprising.

But longevity pioneer Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California, San Francisco, wonders if the public understands the real goal of such research, which is better health.

Many of the experimental animals whose lives have been extended look and act far younger—and are far healthier—than their untreated counterparts of the same age, she said.

“It would be the equivalent of a 90-year-old person that you think is looking like a 45-year-old,” Kenyon told The Associated Press.

Because aging itself underlies the development of many chronic diseases as our bodies break down, the theory is that slowing the aging process might help keep people healthier for longer—even if it’s never as dramatic as what has happened with animals.

Less calories, longer life?

“We are very interested in not only life extension, but extension of the health span,” said Dr. Marie A. Bernard, deputy director of the National Institute on Aging, which pays for much of this research.

Research into life extension began with the discovery that severely restricting calories in lab animals—they regularly consume 25 percent to 30 percent less than normal—makes them live longer. Remarkably, they also were healthier than their litter mates.

That led to the discovery of various genetic alterations that control life span. Kenyon’s research, for example, found that altering a single gene doubled the life span of roundworms, which stayed healthy until near the end. Other researchers have discovered similar aging-related gene mutations in different species.

What about people? Some research has found healthy centenarians are more likely to harbor similarly protective genes.

The next step is to find medications that might somehow switch on those protective pathways, rather than drastic dieting or gene manipulation.  A number of candidates have worked in animals. Just last month, NIA researchers reported that a low dose of the diabetes drug metformin improved the health and longevity of middle-aged mice.

No anti-aging pill is ready to try in people yet. Aging specialists say for now, common sense is the best medicine: Eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight and exercise.

The Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project survey was conducted from March 21 to April 8, 2013. The nationally representative survey involved interviews, conducted on cell phones and landlines, with 2,012 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.—Lauran Neergaard with Stacy A. Anderson 


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Aging , Health , Lifestyle , Medicine , US

  • teevenpolk

    Why not? If you still have healthy brain & strong body …especially,still possessed carnal desire. while receiving old age pension! Hehehe…

    • blue_lights

      ^ This guy seems a little unfulfilled $exually. I should treat him to a hostess bar next time I am in town.

  • lawakanangpagiisip

    Hindi ko ma-imagine sarili ko, nakikipagsiksikan pa sa MRT til 120years old.

    • blue_lights

      Kung sa ganoong edad ay hindi ka pa rin nakaipon para sa sariling kotse at driver, naku, magpakamatay ka na lang.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  8. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  9. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  10. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  6. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  9. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • Russia promises support to ending Ukraine crisis
  • Busted valve delays water interruption
  • Cardinal Tagle decries human ‘commercialization’
  • Religion builds bridges in ethnically split Cyprus
  • Iran general urges Tehran to make new UN pick
  • Sports

  • Vettel hoping for resurgence at Chinese GP
  • MLB pitcher donates $100,000 for Sewol ferry victims
  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • Fiat-Chrysler to produce iconic Jeep in China from 2015
  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
  • PH boosts MERS monitoring after UAE nurse scare
  • Canadians back PH plea to take back waste
  • We treasure our Sierra Madre
    Marketplace