Longevity Meme Newsletter, March 24 2003

March 24 2003

The Longevity Meme Newsletter is an infrequent e-mail containing news, opinions and happenings for people interested in life extension: making use of diet, lifestyle choices, technology and proven medical advances to live healthy, longer lives.



The US Senate is gearing up to vote on criminalizing theraputic cloning, one of the most promising lines of anti-aging research. Considering the damage that has already been done by recent stem cell research legislation, it's vital that this legislation does not pass.


Make your voice heard! Visit the URL above for more details on this horrible legislative mess, and to see how you can help to ensure your own future health and longevity.


We humans are a strange lot. If some boring task must, absolutely, on-pain-of-death have to be completed, we are ever so reluctant. It's boring, so we put it off. Yet present us with something trivial, distracting and fun? We'll spend hours over it.

We're reluctant to even try something that sounds like it won't be fun. We constantly listen and form opinions (often erroneously) on what is fun and what isn't fun. One could argue that the core of all marketing is to try and convince the potential customer that your product is fun or will lead to the customer having fun. The more fun, the better it sells.

As I have mentioned in previous newsletters, we are essentially in the business of trying to market the idea of life extension and anti-aging, regenerative medicinal research to the world. We want to convince people that life extension and anti-aging medicine is something they want to have. Once this happens on a widespread basis, once many people start wondering where the anti-aging medicine is, then the research funding floodgates will start to open.

One of our problems, I think, is that life extension just doesn't look like fun to most people. Why is this? My thoughts were pointed in this direction a couple of days ago by Damien Broderick (a profoundly talented writer of who posts to one of the lists I frequent - I recommend finding and reading a copy his "The Spike"). Since he puts it far more aptly than I can, we'll let him do the talking:

"That's *exactly* right. People seem by and large to be having a fairly awful time, especially as the aches and poor vision and bad sleep and poor digestion of later years start to seep in. `What, more of *this*?' The world gets murky. Doing the simplest thing becomes a hassle, and the joys to be had from it are lessened. Many people are too young to know from the inside how tedious and dispiriting that is. Trust me. If older people get the idea that life extension means *more of this crap*, it isn't at all like a healthy young adult foreseeing decades or centuries more of raves, waves, delirious sex, movies and books you haven't already seen in essence a hundred times... It's like going to gray work on a Monday morning in smog, with aching teeth and a cold, for the rest of eternity. That's on a good day."

Damien puts it well, doesn't he?

Even amongst younger people, the most common perception of life extension is that it means being physically old, decrepit and crippled, for longer. That doesn't sound enticing at all. No fun. Needless to say, this is not what it is all about! Here is a link one of the first articles to be published on the Longevity Meme; an excellent treatment of the quality of life issue by Chris Lawson:


The aim of life extension is - as it should be - for medical science to make it possible (at low cost!) to stay physically young and healthy for as long as possible. The value of your health and a physically younger body cannot be overstated. Health and wellness are, after all, what make a longer life well worth living.

Being healthy is fun! Think about it. Fun sells healthcare products; it convinces people that these products are a worthwhile investment in quality of life. Look at any TV commercial or glossy magazine ad. You'll see pictures of healthy people having fun, laughing, enjoying life. No one wants to think about healthcare in a negative way: "I had better get medicine or this is going to be worse." They want to think: "I'm going to have so much more fun because of this medicine." Using the stick rather than the carrot is counterproductive. It doesn't matter how urgent or important the topic is: the stick will make people shy away and try their best to forget the message. As I said at the start, we humans are a strange lot.

That said, I think it is a short jump from talking about quality of life to talking about length *and* quality. Talking about fun in the context of life extension, in other words, or vice versa. We could certainly use a little of that mainstream health advertising know-how in publicizing the fight against aging.

This, in my opinion, is a direction in which the life extension, anti-aging and regenerative medicine advocates need to move. Right now, our presentation is far too dour and serious. Of course, you might say that this is a serious topic. You'd be right. Life extension is a matter of life and death, after all: things don't get much more fundamental and serious than that. But the mainstream doesn't have to listen to what we have to say if we present it in a fashion that is unappealing. There are cartoons on the other channel, cakes on the table, and games played just down the road. We cannot use too many sticks and too few carrots, too much negative imagery without positive reinforcement. Mainstream culture doesn't want to listen to dour and serious.


I really have to take this opportunity to point out writer Bruce Sterling and his Viridian movement:


I'd like to say that I made this connection myself, but you can blame Damien Broderick for this as well. The Viridians have taken environmentalism - a movement with more than its fair share of dour, serious stick-wielding imagery - and quite deliberately crafted it into something sexy, forward-looking and attractive. This is more of the carrot, in other words.

This works. The Viridians have made a successful and growing - if still fairly small - influential movement. We in the life extension community could do far worse; we're certainly not lacking in successful organizations to emulate.


Have you told someone about the Longevity Meme today? By all means, pass the newsletter on. Remind your friends that the US government is trying to legislate away the medicine they will need for a healthy future. Most importantly, have fun doing it!


And that's all for this newsletter. Remember: the Senate will vote soon. Make sure that your opinion is heard before it is too late.



Have comments for us, or want to discuss the newsletter?


Founder, Longevity Meme



MoreLife On Supplements (March 22 2003)
Supplements are probably the source of the most anti-aging information and misinformation that you'll find online. The best points of view usually come from those who are not trying to sell you anything. Here, MoreLife gives us an outline on the value and use of supplements. It's not too far from my own views and practices insofar as supplements go.

Senate Committee Debates Theraputic Cloning (March 21 2003)
Betterhumans reports that the broader Senate debate on criminalizing theraputic cloning has begun; a committee has convened and debate has started. Without wishing to sound like a broken record: we need to make our voices heard, now more than ever. If the Senate votes to criminalize theraputic cloning, it will be an enormous setback to regenerative medicine: this will directly damage your health and longevity.

Most In US Favor Theraputic Cloning (March 20 2003)
From Newsfactor, new of a survey showing most Americans are in favor of permitting theraputic cloning research. Looks like the advocates are getting somewhere! It's also good to see that CAMR is out there swinging. Keep up the good work! Remember that you can help to prevent a theraputic cloning ban. Take five minutes today and make your voice heard.

Muscle-Building Supplements: Buyer Beware (March 20 2003)
Here's another story on supplements (from Betterhumans) that should get you thinking. Only two supplements out of 250 live up to the advertised claims! The same sorts of numbers are almost certainly true of other types of supplements. Remember: research carefully and talk to your physician before taking supplements for any anti-aging purposes. Calorie restriction is the only currently proven method of life extension.

Reminder: Transvision 2003 in June (March 20 2003)
Transvision 2003 is inching closer: have you registered yet? It should prove to be an good conference for those interested in life extension, future medicine and possible regulation of the same. (I can't say I'm a big fan of bioethics these days, but you'll be seeing a lot of discussion on that topic). A list of speakers is up for your perusal as well.

Moderate Drinking Protects Against Alzheimer's? (March 19 2003)
InfoAging is reprinting another article on possible benefits of a moderate level of alcohol consumption. It's worth bearing in mind all the alternate explanations before running to the store, but there does seem to be a mounting pile of evidence for the benefits.

HGH: Buyer Beware (March 18 2003)
Newsday supplies this warning on human growth hormone: most sold online as having anti-aging effects is fake. Beware, however! This is really a deeper warning and cautionary tale about supplements in general. There is no magic bullet, no youth pill. Calorie restriction is the only proven way to slow aging. Research into regenerative medicine is the surest path to defeating aging.

Home Run on Cancer Vaccine? (March 18 2003)
Yahoo is carrying a suprising article on Geron's latest anti-cancer vaccine, based on genetic therapies. People seem to think that this one is important, a big step ahead. It made a clean sweep of cancer cells in studies. I've been saying for a while that cancer looks to be on the way out -- I hope that we can say the same about many other conditions of aging before too long.

Stem Cells to Regenerate the Eye (March 17 2003)
From the BBC, Japanese doctors are regenerating damaged eyes (in actual patients) using stem cell therapy. This is amazing work, and yet more evidence that stem cell research in the US should be allowed to progress unimpeded by legislation. Transplant tissue and replacement organs cloned/grown from a patient's own cells will be a fundamental component of regenerative medicine and extended, healthy lifespans.

Laws Hurting Stem Cell Research (March 17 2003)
This article (found through Transhumanity) talks about the damage that current US legislation is doing to vital, fundamental medical research. Funding is vanishing, researchers are leaving. We are still in a hole, essentially, even without considering pending legislation that will make things worse.

Broad Backing For Stem Cell Research (March 16 2003)
From the New York Times: an article on the many organizations that back and fund stem cell research. It's about time we saw more mainstream media discussion of this side of the debate. Stem cell research is too significant -- for anti-aging, regenerative medicine, and cures for many conditions -- for us not to fight for as much research funding as possible.

Stem Cells Could Treat Diabetes (March 15 2003)
Over at ScienceBlog, there is commentary on recent research using stem cells in mice. The stem cells gave rise to insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, which opens a host of possibilities. This is further confirmation of the power of stem cells to regenerate damaged organs: and why we shouldn't ban theraputic cloning.

Life Expectancy At New High (March 14 2003)
From MSNBC: US life expectancy is at a new high and increasing by 0.2 years per year, largely due to advances in treatment and prevention of fatal conditions. Life expectancy is still way too low, of course! Anti-aging medicine is still very much underfunded and unappreciated; we have a lot of work to do yet.

Silver Fleece Awards (March 14 2003)
This time round, the "silver fleece" awards go to Clonaid, amongst others. Those who merit a silver fleece, "are people who are trying to exploit the fear of death that almost everyone has." For monetary gain, needless to say, and without providing real, scientifically proven benefits. There is a serious message here: don't put your hopes and money on the table without first doing your research.

Theraputic Cloning Still Legal in UK (March 14 2003)
As the BBC reports, the House of Lords in the UK rejected a bid to ban theraputic cloning. Good for them! Theraputic cloning research is vital to the development of future regenerative medicine: cures for many diseases and the possibility of defeating aging. (Find out more about theraputic cloning at InfoAging).

Interview With Christopher Reeve (March 13 2003)
New Scientist has posted an interview with Christopher Reeve that focuses on his advocacy of stem cell research and theraputic cloning. Reeve and his foundation are doing great work, all of which directly benefits us. Please take five minutes to let him know that we fully support his efforts, or help to get his words heard in more mainstream press.

The Tools of Regenerative Medicine (March 13 2003)
Medical technology is a complex, layered concern. Every breakthrough depends on an entire array of carefully developed tools and procedures. Eurekalert describes the creation of an institute focusing on one such set of tools for future regenerative medicine. In not too many years from now, our current medical sophistication will look positively Medieval!

The Liver Machine, Version One (March 12 2003)
The BBC carries this article on the development of an artificial liver. If progress in artificial hearts in recent years is any guide, we could soon expect devices small enought to fit inside the body. It is interesting to see mechanical prosthetics keeping pace with genetic and cellular research into regenerative medicine.

The Future of Memory (March 11 2003)
Slate is running a series of articles on how medicine and technology will improve the human body and overcome our physical failings. Most of this has little direct relevance to anti-aging medicine, but this article on memory (and loss of memory and Alzheimer's) is worth reading.

Aging Still Mysterious? (March 10 2003)
My attention was drawn today to this PDF article from 2001. It is an interesting and very accessible look at the near future of anti-aging medicine. It includes some enlightening insights into the current poor state of research funding -- unfortunately, not much has changed there in the last couple of years. (Can't read PDF? Get the free Acrobat PDF Reader).


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