Health Span

Heart disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, cancer, stroke are all diseases which increasingly occur as people age. In fact old age is the biggest risk factor for disease. A large number of people want to avoid disease and extend their lifespan. After all Star Trek’s Mr. Spock taught us to live long and prosper. New drugs are being tried, and of course there are many who might want to try whatever they think is available, anything that might prolong their life. But scientists apparently see the issues differently. The body is not constructed to last as long as some might wish. Although there is some dispute as to how long that might be, and as to whether or not there would be an upper limit of 115 years or if there is one at all. Instead of tackling some of the diseases individually some are targeting old age itself. In fact animal studies have shown possibilities in terms of better understanding old age. In a recent JAMA article old age was characterized by processes which can fit into 4 categories: chronic inflammation, cell dysfunction, changes in stem cells that make them fail to regenerate tissue, and cellular senescence which is something in tissue that is like an accumulation of aging cells that invite disease.  What is to be noted in all this is that some researchers think that pushing the limits of lifespan may be creating consequences, and it is possible that Alzheimer’s is one of those consequences.  The emphasis though is that by preventing age related diseases, mortality can in some way be affected. This means that the idea is not to lengthen lifespan but instead to create a health span.