[extropy-chat] Bowhead Whales May be the World's Oldest Mammals

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Wed Mar 28 11:53:05 UTC 2007

On 3/28/07, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:

> Average life span in humans in poorer countries is shorter than in
> wealthier countries due to a higher prevalence of and greater susceptibility
> to infectious disease, but maximum life span is not that different. The
> degenerative diseases of aging are not generally thought to be due to
> infectious agents.

Actually there are a number of reasons for lower life expectancy in less
developed countries.  First is probably poorer nutrition simply due to  the
fact one is  a less affluent society.  The degenerative  diseases are not
due to  infectious agents, they are due to a combination of minor program
defects (hypercholestrolemia, cancer predisposition, Parkinson's,
Alzheimer's, etc.), involving hundreds to thousands of genes, and
"fundamental flaws" in the basic design of genomes, esp. the oxidative
phosphorylation pathway in the mitochondria and the Non-Homologous End
Joining DNA repair pathway for DNA double strand breaks.  It is true that
the "fundamental flaws" do contribute to a decline in the function of the
immune system (and many other organ systems) with age and that results in an
increased susceptibility to infectious agents (e.g. influenza) that would be
fought off by younger individuals but can prove fatal in those elderly who
are not properly vaccinated.  I doubt many less developed countries have the
health care systems present in the wealthier countries that contribute to a
small extent to extending "natural" lives.

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