A recent article on the Longevity Dividend initiative included these comments from some of the backers:
"We now know that aging is modifiable in the laboratory," said Dan Perry, president of the Alliance for Aging Research. "When you do this, you also eradicate or greatly postpone the whole array of diseases that come with aging."
I know what you're thinking: You've heard all this before. We are constantly, shamelessly bombarded by profit-seekers - and yes, the complicit media - who promise an easy way out of aging, from gingko biloba to red wine to hormone or stem cell replacement therapy. So how, I asked the distinguished scientists in New Orleans, do they plan to distinguish the Longevity Dividend from all those empty promises of the past and present?
"It's a greater threat than we may sometimes realize," Perry acknowledged. "Eons of snake oil salesmen have tarnished the genuine science that's starting to emerge. Just one example is human growth hormone, and the entire industry that came up around it."
S. Jay Olshansky said every genuine anti-aging breakthrough is being seized on by hucksters and sold to a gullible public. But, he added, there's an easy way for you to tell good medicine from bad. "Part of the problem," he said, "is that when research scientists have published papers in recent decades, as soon as a glimmer appears they start selling it to the public for profit, before there are studies for safety and efficacy.
"But we are not selling anything to the public. If they are selling it now, it doesn't exist."
This is a good general rule of thumb when it comes to the intersection of health, aging, and longevity. It won't be a good rule for much longer, because the cutting edge of medical research and development is not so many years away from turning out actual first attempts at rejuvenation therapies, or ways to adjust metabolism to modestly slow aging, but it is a good rule for today and for the next few years at least.
Why? Because despite the many ways of extending life in laboratory animals there is as yet no commercially available technology that can be shown to produce more than a fraction of the health and longevity benefits of regular exercise and calorie restriction. All of the most advanced lines of research than might produce more effective ways to extend life in healthy individuals, such as some of those described in the SENS proposals, are at least five to ten years removed from early clinical access even in the best case scenarios for funding and aggressive medical tourism.
So if someone is trying to sell you a product today, with the promise that it will greatly extend your life, then that person is a huckster. Plain and simple. The best and only sensible use for your money for the foreseeable future is to provide support for the advocacy and medical research programs that will speed the advent of future rejuvenation biotechnologies, therapies that will actually extend life and restore youthful function to a meaningful degree once realized.