The Evident Good of Treating Aging as a Medical Condition

It seems a little strange that advocates for aging research must still make the argument that it is a good thing to prevent people from becoming sick and dying. This seems self-evident! It is true that prevention and cure of disease is a goal with widespread support when discussing specific diseases or age-related conditions. Yet, somehow, as soon as one starts to talk about treating aging as a medical condition, the root cause of the majority of disease and suffering, we are right back to objections that amount to defending a world in which people become sick and die. It is a strange situation that is hard to understand.

As long as there have been humans, there has been death. There's evidence that funeral rituals may date back hundreds of thousands of years, so it's likely our species has grappled with its finitude for at least tens of millennia. Is knowing it will end what motivates us to succeed, or provides meaning at all? The first thing to say is that this is one of many objections that demonstrate how we put ageing research into its own ethical category - no-one would ask a cancer researcher whether they're concerned that a reduction in death arising from their research might negatively affect the human condition, and yet, for ageing biologists, this is a common query.

Much of the meaning in our lives comes from the people that fill it, our families and friends. And much of the pain, both emotional and physical, results from ill health, either theirs or our own. If we were all living longer lives in good health, as medicines against ageing promise, why wouldn't we want to continue living? And as art, music, science, technology and more continue to advance (perhaps to new places only possible thanks to creators or researchers with extended careers, able to make discoveries only possible with extra decades of experience), it seems incredibly unlikely that we'd get bored.

And, even if we do tire of life itself aged 250, wouldn't you rather go in a short, painless manner at a time of your own choosing, rather than having life slowly and painfully taken from you over decades by the ageing process? The key point is that medicines for ageing are just that - medicine. They're no stranger than a heart disease researcher trying to prolong healthy life by creating a drug to lower cholesterol. There's no real evidence that the extra years bought by preventing heart attacks have stripped modern life of its meaning - so why would adding a few more years free from heart attacks and cancer and frailty do so?



I think that it is fair to say that not many people actively seek to die or pursue the mild to severe deterioration evident from obvious late-stage ageing no matter the 'stately' or 'wise' or 'well-preserved' appearances some wish to cultivate. But to say that 'not treating ageing as a [monstrous] medical condition' is the same as 'defending a world in which people become sick and die' is a bit lazy. Many would say it is our imperative to create a world where we work less, play/ love more; put the needs of the poor above the wants of all others; fix the world's problems before we venture into space or create art or allow excess wealth accumulation. Many would say that all people's efforts and money should be focussed to these ends, before any other such indulgences. This is a hoarding of resources to nebulous causes, if not wrong per se, is just obscenely inefficient, likely leading to neither long-term solutions nor satisfaction in their pursuit.
Those values ignore the most potent force of all mankind - the productivity and creativity and simply, the Drive: to imagine, live, consume, and create as an Individual, somewhat to mostly free of communal oversight and interference (at least in free regions). These values mostly manifest themselves in what we each choose to buy, invest in, and toil at - provide that we each have information on what is available, possible, and likely. Also, it means that there are many things that we each will not have the resources, at any given time, to buy, invest in, and toil at. Such is the state of world due to:
Prioritization. Scarcity. Uncertain outcome. Lack of obvious organization and focus. LACK OF MEASUREMENT towards success.
Until recently, i enjoyed researching pharma companies as means of small investments. I enjoyed going to their 'pipeline' pages and seeing each drug/ trial/ project start, progress, fail/ succeed. The write-ups speak of investment, technology, hoped outcome -- but most of all: progress or lack of it. Granular. Perhaps pedantic, but all to a certain end: cancer or mental health or reproductive issues, etc.etc. But you could feel the communal and individual progress to a realizable End - steps to a relatable Goal. A quantification of progress and effect, no matter how interim (reduced mortality, mitigated symptoms, etc, etc).
There is a time for far-reaching propaganda -and- a time for real-time focus; street-level interaction with employee/researcher, public, and clinic; and quantifying the current state of the art in a relatable way (impending clinic access to senescent cell clearance product/ service). A meandering thought, but a call to grounding those issues that matter to the public at large - my health now, keeping my health stable soon, and ensuring ongoing functionality to meet my personal dreams. The point: having a Gerontologist say that they can assist in maintaining full functionality, as you define it, for another 20 years is a better sales pitch to EveryDay Joe than saying, "here, do this and you should live to 150, and the world will be better for it".

Posted by: Jer at October 6th, 2022 7:37 AM

It appears to me not strange at all that many researchers and governments are against curing aging.:

If all diseases, AGING, and DEATH were eliminated -- there would be much less profits for those who profit from suffering and dying humans.
Profit motive is the highest priority in a capitalist system and governments support this system.
AGING is the major cause of diseases, suffering and dying -- but also the major source of profits and wealth for doctors, drug companies, hospitals, clinics, retirement homes
So treating Aging humans without curing them is very profitable.

The IRONY of it is that the individual capitalists who get wealthy on suffering of other people , will themselves suffer and die of AGING , if cure is not found fast enough to save them from horrible END.

Posted by: Nicholas D. at October 8th, 2022 12:57 PM
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