Brief summaries never manage to convey the interesting subtleties and history of an organization, but a brief summary of the Life Extension Foundation (LEF) is probably in order here. The LEF is one of the half-dozen or so more responsible vitamin and supplement suppliers in the healthy life extension community - which is not to say you should take anything at face value without doing your own research. Vitamins and supplements, as for so many other things in life, can form a deep - and ultimately wasteful - rabbit hole to vanish down if you fail to keep a sense of proportion. In any case, this large, visible business is the money-generating engine that supports efforts to provide health and longevity optimization advice to LEF members and the public, as well as fund a modest amount of scientific research. Calorie restriction studies and cryonics research are amongst the funding recipients. In other words, the LEF is the archetypical old school life extension venture, an outgrowth of the past generation of the healthy life extension community.
Two recent articles from Life Extension Magazine provide insights into the mindset and goals of those steering the LEF.
The people in the photograph on this page all had a common problem. Despite being the most powerful group in the world at the time, they did little to protect their own lives. As a result, they all died.
Before the 1960s, few people even thought about the idea of radically extending the human life span. As medicine evolved, however, people began to realize that the length of their own lives is highly dependent on the rate of scientific progress. Those in the federal government who control the funding of medical research have a great deal of influence over the extent to which scientists are able to challenge aging and death. Regrettably, government leaders have paid scant attention to protecting Americans from the ravages of aging.
To me, as a libertarian of the minarchist persuasion, the folk running the LEF have a fascinating perception of government. You have to read up on some of the backstory here - the founders were stepped on by the federal government back in the early 1990s in a typically heavy-handed, unnecessary and underhanded way. The LEF won in the end, a very unusual outcome, but it certainly can't have been any fun at the time. For those of you who view government as benign, this should be an eye-opener - but this sort of abuse (and a thousand other examples from the FDA) is the predictable result of a lack of accountability, i.e. an entirely usual state of affairs in a Western style democracy.
Despite this history, here we have an article that is supportive of the very government structures that lead to FDA abuse. The author simply bemoans the way in which past tax revenue was used - i.e. not to further the extension of the healthy human life span. In a way, it mirrors my comments on the use of resources by the past generation of healthy life extension advocates - the LEF founders amongst them. Is this an example of practicality in the face of structures you cannot tear down? You decide.
In 2035, it is apparent that major breakthroughs are on the horizon: gene therapies to prevent aging; intelligent nanorobots to repair dysfunctional brain cells; neurostimulatory therapies to regenerate organs and other body parts; young tissues developed from stem cells to rejuvenate life systems; and new technologies to improve vision, hearing, strength, intelligence, sexual prowess, and other attributes.
Unfortunately, it is also apparent that it will still take decades to fully implement these advanced breakthroughs, which will be too late for you. The thought has begun to cross your mind that your generation might be the last to face death before a greatly extended healthy life span becomes commonplace.
However, all is not lost. Suspended animation, an advanced technology that was perfected in 2030, is readily available at hospitals throughout the world.
LEF founder Saul Kent's long term vision, as for anyone in his generation interested in living very much longer lives, hinges on cryonics technology. For those of us young enough to live into the era of working anti-aging medicine - capable of repairing age-related cellular damage and thus achieving rejuvenation - cryonics is an important insurance policy. Are we going to make it? Will medical science advance rapidly enough? For older folk, cryonic suspension is the only viable alternative to the grave - and a great deal of work and funding is yet required to develop a thriving, healthy cryonics industry from the present small beginnings.
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