LONGEVITY MEME NEWSLETTER
April 07 2003
The Longevity Meme Newsletter is a biweekly 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 LONGEVITY MEME – NOW IN TECHNICOLOR
As you may have noticed, the long awaited redesign of the Longevity Meme is now in place. I hope that you find the site to be more attractive and easier to use as a result. If you have comments, suggestions, or find any problems with the new design, please do let me know: . Visit us at:
If you use one of the Netscape 4 browsers, you won't be seeing the Longevity Meme in its full glory. I recommend upgrading to a more recent browser if you can (I realize that many of you use Netscape 4 for the e-mail suite or at work). Try installing the most recent version of Internet Explorer or Mozilla from the following links:
For folks using the AOL browser, especially older versions, please do speak up if you have issues and I will see what I can do.
BAD LEGISLATION WATCH
We're all waiting for the US Senate to begin debating a bill that will outlaw theraputic cloning research. That's a fight that we have to win, for the sake of vital medical research that will ensure our future health. For more information on how bad this could be, and how to make your voice heard, see the following:
Meanwhile, the Canadian government appears about to sneakily ban theraputic cloning. The ban will be an entirely intentional side effect of a bill that supposedly deals with reproductive technology. This is much the same way that a complete ban happened in France last year. I strongly urge Canadians reading this to contact Health Minister Anne McLellan or your member of parliament and make your views known. The following links should be useful in this regard.
Remember: be polite, be clear and make sure they realize that you vote in their constituency. Responsibility for creating the sort of future that we want to live in rests with all of us, not just those in elected positions.
"LIFE EXTENSION" VRS "HEALTHY LIFE EXTENSION"
The sharp-eyed amongst you will notice that I'm no longer talking about "life extension" and have started to talk about "healthy life extension." Why is this?
1) The Most Common Misconception
I talk about life extension and associated topics (medical research, calorie restriction, bad legislation, and so forth) with many people each month. Most are not connected with the life extension community in any way, nor have they been exposed to any of the ideas put forward on sites like the Longevity Meme, Betterhumans (www.betterhumans.com) or the Immortality Institute (www.imminst.org). The most common misconception about life extension is that it means being old and in ill health for longer. The first thought on hearing the term "life extension" is that I'm about to talk about medical procedures that allow old, frail, unhealthy people to cling to life.
This is a real problem for those of us who are trying to make life extension an attractive, widespread, well-known (and well funded!) idea. It's a problem for anyone trying to explain life extension to a friend, family member or co-worker in the context of offering health advice.
One of the first rules of marketing is that it is good to have a product name that tells the customer what the product does. "Life extension," while passing that test on one level, fails miserably on the next. The customer doesn't want to be old and in ill health for longer! Most customers won't even let you try to explain: they hear "life extension," draw their own conclusions and walk away.
So let's firmly attach "healthy" in front of "life extension" and see how it goes.
2) A New Identifier Required
When I talk about "life extension," I'm not necessarily talking about the same thing as the guys over at the Life Extension Foundation (www.lef.org) anymore. My own personal definition has become inclusive of more than just managing present health, taking supplements and practicing calorie restriction. I have expanded my definition of "life extension" to include activism and support for anti-aging and regenerative medical research. This, to me, is just as important as keeping yourself in good, healthy, long lived shape. Being a healthy, happy 200-year old will require more than supplements and present-day medicine! It is vital to look to the future, and more importantly, work to create the sort of future you can and want to live in.
That said, I can't keep talking about "life extension" if I mean more than the currently accepted definition. So I'll start talking about "healthy life extension" and see if I can create a new, widely understood meaning.
WHAT IS HEALTHY LIFE EXTENSION?
As a part of the Longevity Meme site redesign, I have reorganized and expanded the introductory content:
This should explain what I mean by "healthy life extension." It should make it easier for new visitors to get started and obtain a good basic grounding in the techniques and future of healthy life extension. It took me years! I hope that I can give back to the community by cutting that process down to, say, a few minutes of searching followed by a few weeks of reading and thinking.
Explaining healthy life extension to newcomers is vitally important to our success as a movement and as individuals who want to live longer, healthier lives. If we fail at this task, we will remain a niche viewpoint. We run the very real risk of anti-aging, regenerative medicine and a cure for aging arriving too late, or not arriving at all.
I encourage you all to visit the above link, read and offer me constructive criticism. How can we make this task easier, make it happen faster, make our community better?
That's all for this newsletter folks. Stay healthy.
Have comments for us, or want to discuss the newsletter?
Founder, Longevity Meme
Canada Debating Theraputic Cloning Ban (April 06 2003)
The Western Catholic Reporter is one of the few outlets to talk about the effects of Canadian bill C-13 on theraputic cloning. The bill, currently under debate, is ostensibly to do with reproductive rights. However, it looks like it may end up banning all theraputic cloning research as well. This would be another blow to vital research seeking cures for age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's, Parkinsons and cancer. I urge Canadians reading this to contact Health Minister Anne McLellan or your member of parliament and make your views known.
Longevity Meme Site Redesign (April 06 2003)
As you may have noticed, the Longevity Meme is colorful and easier on the eyes as of today. We hope that you approve of our new look. We're always happy to hear any comments and suggestions that you may have. You might be interested in glancing at the new "start here" section, which provides a better introduction to the Longevity Meme than has previously existed on the site. If you encounter any problems with the new site, please do let us know.
Lose Weight Now and Live Longer (April 05 2003)
This is a very straightforward and unambiguous study on weight, exercise and longevity as reported by Reuters. Being overweight will shorten your life. This is all the more reason to take up calorie restriction now! From the article: "These findings are exciting," Corrada and Paganini-Hill added, "because they suggest ways an individual can take control and extend his or her own life."
Real Stem Cell Progress From Geron (April 04 2003)
Geron is powering ahead with stem cell research. As reported at Betterhumans, researchers have made demonstrable progress in showing that stem cell therapies can safely treat a number of age-related conditions. They look to be methodically following up on other research, deliberately aiming at the goal of real, working therapies. Go Geron!
Kass Criticized For Wrong Reasons (April 03 2003)
BioMed Central has an article that has been doing the rounds in recent days. Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics is being criticized for being outspoken. Not, you will note, for advocating cruel, luddite policies on medical research that will lead to suffering, ill-health and shorter lives for all of us. The rest of the Council votes with Kass. They are just as bad, even though they get fewer column inches in the press.
Promising Alzheimer's Treatment (April 03 2003)
From Betterhumans, news of a treatment that slows and in some cases reverse the effects of Alzheimer's. Why is this important for life extension? Because the brain is the one organ we can't just patch up or replace using near-future regenerative medicine. Alzheimer's and other brain conditions are a real threat for everyone who plans to live long through anti-aging medicine.
Lighten Up to Live Longer (April 02 2003)
There are a number of news items in circulation at the moment on the connection between your weight, health and lifespan. I thought I'd note one of the better, clearer articles (from PhillyBurbs.com). It's worth remembering that we must stay healthy in order to benefit from future anti-aging and regenerative medicine! Calorie restriction is your friend in this regard: look into it.
Aging Debate at SAGE Crossroads (April 02 2003)
You can now download Windows Media audio files of two recent and very interesting debates on aging research and life extension from SAGE Crossroads. SAGE Crossroads has a cautious and pro-regulatory editorial stance, alas, but the debates speak for themselves. This medical research holds great promise, and should move forward. Anyone who reposts the interviews in a more friendly audio format should feel free to let us know.
Another Cancer Treatment Entering Trials (April 01 2003)
New Scientist reports on another very promising cancer treatment to enter trials next year. The current crop of potential cures for cancer are the end result of more than thirty years of intensive research, advocacy and funding. We can hope that present efforts lead us to the point of saying much the same about aging in decades to come.
DHEA Strikes Out on Alzheimer's (April 01 2003)
DHEA is touted as an anti-aging supplement on the basis of a number of studies. (The Life Extension Foundation is a good place to find out more about this particular supplement. Do bear in mind that they are trying to sell to you, however). This story in ScienceBlog details a new study that seems to show DHEA to be ineffective in preventing Alzheimer's. More research needed here, I think.
Good and Bad Stem Cell Reseach News (March 31 2003)
Wired is carring a couple of articles on recent regenerative medicine research using stem cell therapies. (The second article is here). On the one hand researchers are demonstrating successful liver and heart regeneration using adult stem cells. On the other hand, adult stem cells may not be as powerful as was hoped. Therapies may have side-effects -- such as cancer -- due to cellular abnormalities.
The Future of Life (March 31 2003)
KurzweilAI.net is carrying a report on the recent Future of Life conference. Heady visions of the near future of medical, anti-aging and life extension technology are mixed in with other predictions. This is what we are working towards: a future of widely available, cheap biotechnologies that extend and improve our lives. (Groups like the President's Council For Bioethics are trying very hard to ensure that this future never happens: they must be stopped).
Cryonics Society of Canada (March 31 2003)
The Cryonics Society of Canada has updated their site; it's a useful resource for those who want to know more about cryonics. As noted by responsible cryonicists, cryonics is best viewed as an experiment with -- as of now -- an unknown chance of success. That said, there are currently no better chances for radical life extension available to those who will die before anti-aging and regenerative medicine become widely available.
Prof. Austad on Aging (March 30 2003)
An article from Dateline Alabama notes a recent lecture by Steven Austad, a well regarded researcher. "According to traditional medical advances, we are clearly going to live longer and longer and longer" said Austad. You may recall that Prof. Austad made a good presentation to the unreceptive and unhelpful President's Council on Bioethics.
Cancer Vaccines: Hype or Hope? (March 28 2003)
I've mentioned cancer vaccine research before. Cancer is one of the most common and dangerous age-related conditions, so defeating cancer is an important component of the fight against aging. Researchers seem to be closer to winning this fight, as described in this article from Cancerpage.com. Cancer research is a medical success story in the making. Today cancer, tomorrow Alzheimer's!
European Committee Supports Research Ban (March 27 2003)
Looks like the European Parliment may fall in with the US and French governments in trying to ban promising stem cell and theraputic cloning research. This brief piece from Betterhumans doesn't give much more information than that, but it looks like we'll be hearing more about this before the year is out. Remember that you can (and should) take action to support the research that will improve and lengthen your life!
Nanotech Will Lead to Medical Advances (March 27 2003)
Most major medical advances -- now and in coming years -- will be through our power to manipulate the very small. Researchers are enhanching our ability to work with genes, molecules and proteins in order to build the therapies of tomorrow. This Eurekalert article briefly discusses progress in this field of scientific endeavor.
Transcript of Bailey Debating Fukuyama (March 26 2003)
A PDF transcript of the debate between Francis Fukuyama (pro death, anti life extension) and Ron Bailey is up at SAGE Crossroads. It covers a fair amount of ground, but includes talk on anti-aging technologies, regulation and bioethics. We've all seen Fukuyama's argument before: that a nebulous concept of "human dignity" is more important than developing new medicine that will save lives and prevent the effects of aging.
Science Redesigning Human Aging (March 25 2003)
I'm a little late in noting this one from the Betterhumans event calendar. Gregory Stock debates Bill McKibben on Thursday 27th of this month in Washington. This is essentially an argument between opposing views on life extension and anti-aging medicine: those who want it versus those who want to legislate it out of existence.
CFI Says Protect Theraputic Cloning (March 25 2003)
The Center for Inquiry has a page up allowing you to send a message to your elected representatives. "The debate in Congress over human cloning has received scant attention with the war in Iraq raging. It means that the American public is paying little attention to one of the most important ethical issues in the history of science while it is being debated and legislated in the halls of Congress. Meanwhile, the promise of therapeutic cloning research hangs in the balance."
Arkansas Bans Theraputic Cloning (March 25 2003)
The Washington Times notes that Arkansas politicians signed into law a ban on theraputic cloning. This current round of anti-research legislation is very much a battle, and a battle that could hurt our health. CAMR get a few lines in this article: good to see them having a higher profile. They're doing good work in trying to prevent federal criminalization of this vital medical research.
SAGE Crossroads Launched (March 24 2003)
SAGE Crossroads has officially launched. It's an impressive-looking online forum for emerging issues of human aging, aimed at a wider audience than the very reputable but more academic SAGE KE. (SAGE KE is requires registration, but is well worth exploring). SAGE Crossroads is funded by Science Magazine and the Alliance for Aging Research. I'm always pleased to see more well-backed anti-aging community ventures!
Do you have comments for us, or want to discuss the newsletter?