[ExI] [GRG] Olshansky vs. Vaupel Debate

L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D. scoles at grg.org
Wed Sep 25 04:30:06 UTC 2013

To Members and Friends of the Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group:

         Olshansky vs. Vaupel debate.  I am clearly on Jay's side... 
-- Steve Coles

>"Disagreements on the Current Trajectory of Life Expectancy"
>         Here is another article in a popular science 
> <http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science_of_longevity.html>series 
> on the history of human longevity and related topics.
>This looks at a mainstream disagreement in aging research, among 
>researchers who do not see 
>life extension
>  as a near-term possibility:
>     One of the most fascinating debates in life science these days 
> is between <http://sjayolshansky.com/sjo/Background.html>S. Jay 
> Olshansky and 
> <http://www.demogr.mpg.de/en/institute/staff_directory_1899/james_w_vaupel_3.htm>James 
> Vaupel of the <http://www.demogr.mpg.de/>Max Planck Institute for 
> Demographic Research in Rostock, GERMANY. They disagree 
> fundamentally about whether and how average life expectancy will 
> increase in the future, and they've been arguing about it for 20 
> years. Olshansky, a lovely guy, takes what at first sounds like the 
> pessimistic view. He says the public health measures that raised 
> life expectancy so dramatically from the late 1800's to today have 
> done about as much as they can. We now have a much older 
> population, dying of age-related diseases, and any improvements in 
> treatment will add only incrementally to average life expectancy, 
> and with vanishing returns.
>     On the other side of the ring is Vaupel, who 
> <https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2004/12/plasticity-of-l.php>say 
> s that people are living longer and healthier lives all the time 
> and there is no necessary end in sight. His message is cheerier, 
> but he takes the debate very seriously; he won't attend conferences 
> where Olshansky is present. His charts are heartening; he takes the 
> records of the longest-lived people in the longest-lived countries 
> for each year and shows that average (maximum?) lifespan has been 
> zooming up linearly from 1800 to today. One wants to mentally 
> project the regression line into the foreseeable future.
>     Olshansky says the only way to make major improvements in life 
> expectancy is to find new ways to prevent and treat the diseases of 
> aging. And the most efficient way to do that is to delay the 
> process of aging itself. That's something that some people already 
> do - somehow. Olshansky says, "The study of the genetics of 
> long-lived people, I think, is going to be the breakthrough 
> technology." Scientists can now easily extend lifespan in flies, 
> worms, and mice, and there's a lot of exciting research on genetic 
> pathways in humans that might slow down the aging process and 
> presumably protect us from the age-related diseases that kill most 
> people today. "The secret to longer lives is contained in our own 
> genomes," Olshansky says.
>     However, Olshansky favors a mainstream high-level research 
> strategy that could 
> be<https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2012/02/enthusiasm-for-the-slow-road.php> 
> largely futile: a slow, expensive process of building treatments to 
> alter human metabolism to look more like that of long-lived people, 
> or to replicate the effects of Calorie Restriction (CR). It will 
> produce a great deal of knowledge, but is unlikely to have much or 
> an effect on lifespan; this is an approach that may slow aging 
> slightly, not create rejuvenation, and not directly address 
> <https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2006/11/the-engineers-viewpoint-treat-change-as-damage.php>the 
> root causes of aging. If we want to see real progress in human 
> lifespan in our lifetimes, decades or more of healthy life added, 
> even for those already old, then we have to look toward serious 
> investment in biogerontology and synthetic biology.

L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D., Co-Founder
Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group
URL: http://www.grg.org
E-mail: scoles at grg.org
E-mail: scoles at ucla.edu  
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20130924/33209511/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
To UNSUBSCRIBE or for ADMINISTRATIVE REQUESTS send an E-mail to jadams at grg.org or scoles at grg.org, or call (949) 922-9786 USA.

*** Do NOT send an UNSUBSCRIBE message to the entire list. ***

GRG mailing list
GRG at lists.ucla.edu

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list