Prolonging Life

Should scientists try to increase the human lifespan?


The number of elderly Americans is rising sharply. More than 1 million people will be at least 100 years old by 2050 — up from just 50,000 centenarians in 2000. With more and more Americans living longer, policymakers worry that Social Security and Medicare costs will drain money from health and education programs for the young. Meanwhile, researchers are trying to prolong life even more, making old age a time of health and activity, not sickness and frailty. Some envision a future when people routinely live in good health to 100 or longer, aided, perhaps, by drugs that turn on “longevity” genes, newly discovered secrets of long-lived people and even computer chips and tiny robotic devices implanted in humans to help them remain vigorous. But ...

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