In this article I have provided an overview and history of the fascinating subject of “human life expectancy and longevity” and how the “Longevity Revolution” that is already happening, is potentially going to significantly increase your life expectancy.
The longevity revolution is going to redefine life expectancy and it’s implications for humanity, at both the individual and collective level, are huge. In this article I can only provide an overview and set the scene for many more ongoing articles and updates that will delve into specific elements in greater depth as new developments and research findings occur.
In his introduction, Robert N. Butler, M.D. President and CEO of “International Longevity Center – USA” made these observations:
“With the longevity revolution, humankind is entering a new and unprecedented stage of development, the impact of which has been made greater because of its rapidity. Today, we are no longer limited to a life view that must accommodate itself to the historic brevity of life, to random and premature illness and death. With centenarians the most rapidly increasing age group and weekly media reports about progress in medical technology, people realistically expect longer and healthier lives.”
I believe we are very fortunate, as mature adults in a developed nation, to be living at such an exciting time. The Longevity Revolution is upon us and it offers hope, even expectation that we can all look forward to the possibility of a much longer healthier life than we could have even conceived of as recently as 15 years ago. This new field of study and research is being referred to as “Life Extension”
The longevity revolution is already happening in biotechnology, medical science, nanotechnology, genetics, stem cell research and 3D Printing, and is going to result in a quantum leap in our lifespan; but equally important – how long we will stay healthy (i.e. our healthspan).
Right now, historical longevity statistics tell us that average life expectancy at birth in the top 20 ranking nations is 80 years; but that on average, the last 8 years (10%) will be spent in ill-health.
To extend our lifespan without improving our healthspan would be pointless, maybe even cruel, and would place even greater pressure on the social security systems and national budgets in the majority of developed nations, at a time when the financial burden of an ever increasing population of people over 65 is already threatening to swamp them.
By first reviewing the history of human longevity over the past 100 years, we will get an historical perspective, and we will then look at where life expectancy is going from here; and the 4 key factors that I believe are going to be critical if as many of us as possible are to reap the full benefits that will be available. We will then delve more deeply into the big question: What does this mean for you and me?
I have added a number of very interesting articles in my blog posts, updating you on some significant research that demonstrate the progress that is being made. I will provide a link to those articles in the resources section at the end of this article.
But I am so excited by all of these developments and breakthroughs that I decided to give you an overview here:
Two articles explain how Silicon Valley heavyweights are investing literally billions of dollars in life extension technology initiatives.
People such as the co-founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Billionaire Larry Ellison a co-founder of Oracle and probably the major supporter of life extension research since forming the Ellison foundation in 1997, Craig Venter a biochemist, geneticist, and entrepreneur, known for being one of the first to sequence the human genome and and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis an international pioneer in the fields of innovation, incentive competitions and commercial space, who in 2014 was named one of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”– by Fortune Magazine, and Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder and Facebook’s first investor, who according to the Guardian (the publisher of one of these articles) recently told Bloomberg Television he took human growth hormone (HGH) as part of his regime to reach 120.
These brilliant individuals, who have made personal fortunes from the computer and internet revolutions, have understood the importance and potential opportunity of life extension technology – using the power of human genomics, DNA sequencing technologies, stem cell advances and nanotechnology to solve the diseases associated with ageing. Their interest and support can only be good for all of us.
We should all be quite clear that the investment made by these visionaries, far from being a case of the mega-rich jumping the queue, will actually bring forward the availability of these new medicines and treatments so that we can all benefit from them much sooner than we otherwise would have.
The U.S. Gene Therapy research company Bio-viva announced in 2015 that it had become the first company to treat a person with gene therapy to reverse biological aging (Actually their CEO Liz Parish, and the results from justnone treatment, 3 years on have been remarable). At the time of updating this article in August 2021, BioViva is producing and selling a number of longevity related products. Take a look here:
The 4th article was an announcement by the University of Queensland, Australia that in an exciting research breakthrough in human cell therapy one of their research teams has created a mini kidney from a patients own skin cells. One of the significant factors here is the use of the patients own cell.
This overcomes some of the “ethical” concerns that have been expressed when cells from external sources have been used (By the way, a concern that I do not support at all, as using these external cells caused no harm whatsoever to the donor, and this logic would also preclude blood transfusions which save many lives every day).
These are only a few of the steady and growing stream of breakthroughs being made by research teams around the world. I will be publishing regular updates of new announcements that I believe you should be aware of.
Human Longevity – The Last 100 Years
Before we look into the crystal ball and attempt to see into the future, let’s briefly review the recent history of longevity and current predicted life expectancy statistics. “Life expectancy,” according to the “World Health Organisation” website, is “the average number of years a person can expect to live, if in the future they experience the current age-specific mortality rates in the population,” in other words, no significant changes in current conditions occur in the person’s lifetime; either positive or negative.
In the last 100 years, average life expectancy at birth in Developed Nations has increased by 50% from 53. 6 years to 80.4 years. This has been due to a combination of two factors; a reduction in child mortality and older people living longer.
In his article “Broken Limits to Life Expectancy” in “Science” magazine in May 2002, Demographer James Oppen stated “For 160 years, best-performance life expectancy has steadily increased by a quarter of a year per year, an extraordinary constancy of human achievement.”
The main reasons for this massive increase have been:
- Advances in food supply and nutrition,
- Vastly improved sanitation and hygiene,
- Cleaner drinking water,
- Technological breakthroughs and the advent of major new medical technologies and medicines (e.g. antibiotics),
- Better housing, including clean heating systems (i.e. replacing coal fires), and
- Increased awareness and knowledge about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
The longevity revolution has, however, had an unanticipated side effect: the creation of an older population that has contracted multiple chronic degenerative diseases, including cancer, heart disease, arthritis and alzheimer’s disease. I believe that the longevity research that is already under way will largely eradicate many of these diseases in the next 10 to 15 years, thus further enhancing our chances of a longer healthier life.
Now this may sound like a bold prediction, but it has happened before.
The chart below, extracted from an original article in the New England Journal of Medicine published in 2012 ( see link in resources below) ranks the top ten causes of death annually in the USA and expresses them as an annual number per 100,000 of population. The chart shows a number of important changes that I will explain below the chart.
The key relevant points I have taken from this chart are:
- The total deaths in the USA annually per 100,000 of population have been reduced from 1100 to 600
- The 3 most common infectious diseases in 1900, Pneumonia or flu, Tuberculosis and Gastrointestinal diseases (stomach bugs) have been reduced dramatically from 400 (36% of all deaths) in 1900 to only 16 (less than 3%) in 2010. This is attributable mainly to healthier/cleaner living environments and the advent of antibiotics in the 1940’s that virtually eradicated most infectious diseases at that time
- Cancer and heart disease however, which in 1900 accounted for 18 percent of all deaths, by 2010 had jumped to 63 percent of a much larger population, so the absolute number of people being killed by these 2 chronic conditions has also grown, from 201 people out of every 100,000 in 1900 to nearly 380 per 100,000 today. As these are both diseases associated with aging, this can be accounted for mainly by the increased average life-expectancy at birth from around 58 years in 1900 to 82 years in 2010, a 44% increase. Other major factors have been the increased use of toxic drugs, mainly smoking, and increased levels of obesity.
So, back to my point that this has happened before. Just as antibiotics and healthier living conditions eradicated the two infectious diseases that accounted for 36% of all deaths in 1900 had been virtually eradicated by 2010, I believe that similarly the two chronic diseases that caused 63% of all deaths in the USA in 2010 can similarly be eradicated in the near future by the treatments being created by longevity science, gene and stem cell research and nanotechnology, coupled with our increased awareness of the importance of living a healthy lifestyle (mainly eating the right foods and exercising regularly, that should reduce obesity and a general lack of fitness) and also a big reduction in the number of people smoking which has already resulted in a big drop in lung cancer victims.
The Future of Human Life Expectancy – Where to From Here?
Based on my own research and understanding, I have identified 4 key areas for continuing research, development and public education that must be addressed simultaneously, and with urgency if as many of us as possible are to reap the full benefits that will be available:
- Continuing the great work being carried out by Medical institutes and public health professionals across the globe to combat these chronic degenerative diseases. This work has already saved many lives and improved the lives of many others, and it needs to continue.
- Continuing to educate people; that contracting these chronic diseases as they age is not inevitable, and that they can significantly reduce the risk of contracting them by leading a healthy lifestyle i.e. adopting a healthy anti-aging diet and avoiding the unhealthy foods and ingredients that damage their health, by avoiding unhealthy addictions, by a regular exercise and fitness practice and by reducing the stress that weakens the body’s immune system and invites these diseases in.
- In his fascinating article “A Wrinkle in Time” Stuart Jay Olshansky, a Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois, Chicago made the following statement:- “Scientific evidence now strongly supports the idea that it’s time to invest in the future of humanity by encouraging the commensurate political will, public support, and resources required to slow aging, and to do so now, so that most people currently alive might benefit from the investment.” and that “there is ample reason to be optimistic that decelerated aging can be achieved for humans.
- As I said in the introduction, the longevity revolution is already happening, and is going to result in a quantum leap in our lifespans, but even more importantly, in how long we will stay healthy.
What would have been considered science fiction 20 years ago is now becoming a reality. The human genome project, completed in 2003, has opened up a multitude of amazing possibilities. The new field of “tissue engineering” is enabling medical laboratories to create replacement body parts and organs using an individual’s own cells, and work already underway includes growing new organs, breast tissue, windpipes and bladders, and many other body parts.
Research is showing that by manipulating certain genes, reducing calorie intake, and changing how specific physiological mechanisms work, there is ample reason to be optimistic that decelerated aging can be achieved for humans.
So, What Does This Longevity Revolution Mean for You and Me?
This is the exciting bit. If you are currently 50 years old, and living in a developed country, average life expectancy in 2011 (the most recent available) was around 81 years; this increases as we age to around 85 years when we are 70. Now, that was based on the current age-specific mortality rates in the population in 2011 so, given the rate of positive change that is already happening in biotechnology and medical science, this is probably now a conservative estimate.
In a recent interview for Newsweek, Walter Bortz, who teaches Medicine at Stanford, and is a former co-chairman of the American Medical Association’s Task Force on Aging and past president of the American Geriatrics Society, and is considered to be one of America’s foremost experts on aging, was asked ” what about the average person? How long can most of us expect to live today?” Dr Bortz replied “The golden mean. I think that gets us to 100. After 100, it’s negotiable. Maybe we can go on to 120. But I still think the average human life span is energetically ordained around 100…… One hundred is a legitimate medical goal based on what we have now.”
For “Design Your New Life”, I have assumed a potential average longevity figure of 100 years as the basis for my programs. In my research I have seen figures of 120-130 frequently and even 150. But 100 seems to be a magic number that has broad acceptance.
So let’s take a look at how life might be for older people if that assumption becomes a reality. The most significant change, assuming we retired at 60-65 and live the projected average 100 years, is that we would have 30 to 35 years of potentially active and productive life ahead of us.
Wow, what would you do with those extra years that I have called the “third life phase” ?
The great news is that in this new era “Retiring” is not the end, it’s actually a new beginning, and what you make of that new beginning is completely, in your hands. I think that’s exciting, don’t you?
I am sure that most of us will want to do some or all of the following:
- spend more quality time with our family,
- travel to the places we have dreamed of,
- renovate our homes or move to a smaller more manageable home,
- just relax more and reduce our stress levels, and
- spend more time on our hobbies and passions.
But that’s not going to keep many of us happy and fulfilled for 30-35 years! For those of us who have always led a busy life, with a responsible job or business, about which we were conscientious and caring, we won’t want to just stop. Indeed, in terms of our potential life expectancy, that could be a very bad thing to do.
We will need something to maintain our sense of purpose, and as there is a good chance we will live longer than we may have expected, it would be ideal for many of us if that new purpose provided additional income.
Those needs were satisfied during our working life by our careers, bringing up our families and our relationship with our partner. Now the career has either ended or coming to a close, our children are probably grown up, and our relationship with our partner will also change as we spend much more time together than we ever have in the past, and to succeed and keep both partners happy; some hard work, adjustments, tolerance, understanding and redefinition will be required.
So how can we maintain our sense of purpose and our passion for life, as well as keeping some additional income flowing in to supplement our savings and pension?
The good news, we now have many more options available to choose from. I will leave you with the following thoughts to start to stimulate your thinking:
ASs a result of the Longevity Revolution-manyof us will be able to continue to contribute to society and earn additional income.
When we “retire” from our old jobs we are now able to continue to contribute to society and our loved ones, to earn extra money for our later years. Money we will probably need as we live a longer, healthier more active life. The other good news is we can do it on our own terms because we will be our own boss. So we can work from home or from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, and the hours that suit our lifestyle.
The internet has given us the means to communicate and do business directly with 68% of the 1.2 million people that live in North America. Europe and Australasia, and 34% of the world’s 7 million people (source: http://www.internetworldstats.com/), and that figure is growing rapidly. For those of us who speak English, there are some 93 countries where English is widely spoken and read, so we have a potential market beyond our wildest dreams. International boundaries are no longer a barrier to doing business.
With 30-35 years of active life ahead of us, I believe many of us will want to go back to university, to study for a second career, possibly something completely different from our first career. Could it be that our “retirement” might be taking a year or more off from work to re-educate ourselves for our new careers? Going back to university can now be as simple as turning on your computer and connecting to the internet.
I hope I have at least stirred your imagination and opened up new ideas that you may not have even considered. My new career and life mission is to help you, and I hope millions of other mature people like you, to create a great new life for yourselves and your families in your Third Life Phase. (we need a new word for that-any ideas?).
I have been working on this project now, on and off for over eight years, and the more I learn the more excited I become. I have gained new computing skills I never thought I would be able to master and have collected heaps of really interesting and exciting information I can’t wait to share with you;
Remember my role is to do the hard work for you; to provide your one-stop-shop for all the information you will need to maximise the personal benefits available to you from the “Longevity Revolution”. You won’t need to surf the net for hours and hours to find the information you might need; that’s my role. My website is the one place where you can find everything you need to know.
I have created a system in 4 steps that encompass all the key aspects of your lifestyle:
- Getting Clarity about Future Life Expectancy and Longevity, and the Importance of Having the Right Mindset for Aging,
- The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle for people over 50, and What That Really Means,
- Well-Being Secrets for people over 50, and
- Your Finances, Earning Income in Retirement and Maintaining your Purpose in Life.
I have provided comprehensive information on all aspects of each step and will keep you updated as new developments occur, and that will be frequently as the rate of change gains momentum.
Please feel free to leave me a comment, which I will answer personally.
N.B. This report should be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for advice from your medical professional.
Last updated August 2021
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Design Your New Life-Articles on longevity research:
Chart – Causes of death – 1900 to 2010