Aging Research in Canada

Here are a couple of items and commentary on the mainstream study of aging and longevity, linked by the common theme of Canada:

Canadian life expectancy rising:

According to a new Statistics Canada report, the average life expectancy hit 79.9 years in 2003, up from 79.7 in 2002. ... In the past quarter century, the difference in life expectancy between the sexes has narrowed. Men improved by 6 years, or one year for every four calendar years since 1979, while women only improved by 3.6 years, or one year for every 6.7 calendar years.

On the forthcoming Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging:

Which finally brings us to the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), which begins in 2008 and will track 50,000 40+ year old Canadians for 20 years. At this point it's not clear exactly what info they will be collecting and publishing (nutrition is mentioned, but how about suppliments like multivitamins?) but I expect the results to be fascinating and important non-the-less. It will be more than worth following over the years - and I'm young enough that the study will lead me rather than lag me :-). A read of their Executive Summary (a bit of a mis-nomer, since it's about 20 pages long) shows that they are on top of the game, even in terms of biotech/genetics/SENS type understanding of aging.

Watching life expectancy and the actuarial study of aging is interesting and useful in its own way, but it doesn't say all that much about the future of medicine - certainly not whether, and by how much, that medicine will extend our healthy life spans. People who carefully watch advancing research and capabilities suspect that actuarial forecasts based on extending trendlines in life expectancy - such as those used to justify or attack soon-to-be-redundant government pension schemes and forced retirement policies - are way out of line with what is likely. A trend is only a trend if it continues to continue, and examining the past is a terrible way to predict the future. Rather than wondering about it all, far better to put your shoulder to the wheel and help bring about real anti-aging medicine that much faster.

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