Sunday, August 1, 2004

Living longer

Anti-aging research is big business. Whether cosmetic modification to trick people into thinking you're young or "magic" cure-all pills to rejuvenate, people are stupid enough to believe anything that promises to restore their lost youth. Science, however, does not support the vast majority of these claims.

There is one line of research that has consistently produced results. In experiments, simply limiting the calories consumed by mice, monkeys, and other animals dramatically increased their lifespan. As long as they still got the required nutrients, of course. While obviously, this won't eliminate infectious disease, accident, or murder, it does slow the aging process and lessen the risk for things like heart attacks, strokes, and organ failure. There is every reason to believe that simply reducing the amount of calories one eats by 30% would have similar effects in humans, allowing the average person to reach 100 or even 120 years of age. Even better, if researchers could figure out how it does what it does, they could mimic it's effects by chemical or genetic means without requiring people to drastically change their lifetyle.

It goes without saying that this sort of thing will be exploited by those who want to make money from it. As one of my interests is transhumanism, somebody from contacted me after seeing my blog. The site is a promotional vehicle for the Elixxir Program, a type of caloric-restriction diet combined with religious mumbo-jumbo. The leader guy is a self-described "anti-aging guru" who actually goes by the name "Elixxir." Did they not realize that one of the central origins of transhumanism was humanism and the rejection of religion?

The Elixxir Program may actually work, since it does take caloric restriction into effect. But lose all of the bullshit, guys.

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