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Life extension now [was Re: Medical technology]

Robert Bradbury bradbury at sftwks.UUCP
Sat May 30 19:23:33 EST 1992

In article <9205292307.AA24462 at genbank.bio.net> GMP at PSUVM.PSU.EDU writes:
> ... comments on the degradation associated with aging and nursing homes ...
This is the sad part of this problem.  We live in a society where we either
lock up the old people or have caregivers who are literally killing themselves
caring for the elderly.  These are problems that psychologists and sociologists
need to address.  The first question one needs to answer is, "When does your
quality of life diminish to the point where it makes no sense to continue
living?".  We as a society should encourage individuals to answer this question
for themselves.  Then you must ask, "Is there any way to convince religious
leaders that suicide is not sinful?".  Without addressing this issue
you will have large numbers of people in our society who will not choose
to die when it might otherwise be appropriate to do so.  Then finally,
you need to address the issue within the medical community of, "When and
how may physicians properly assist in the process of dying?".  Comfortable
transitions to a state of death probably require the assistance of a doctor.
We came close to allowing "planned death" here in Washington in the last
election, people who view the current situation as an abomination need to
continue these efforts on a state by state basis if necessary.

>I regard your speculation about gene tampering as science fiction, at the
>moment.  What I want is your knowledge about contemporary methodology.
>Please tell me the effectiveness of the technological means that are
>currently being used to prolong life.

>How many people on respirators ever get weaned off?
>Does a CABG really prolong life?  If so, what is the evidence?
>Are anti-depressive drugs really anti-depressive or are they vegetable makers?
>How do you know for sure a person is brain dead?

People in sci.med are better qualified to answer questions about these
than I am, can the doctors comment?  It is true that at the point when
large amounts of "technological intervention" are required to keep you
alive you are living on borrowed time.  At that point I would strongly
urge one to start considering cryonics.  You have nothing to lose if
it doesn't work and might have another life to gain if it does work.
(One should make an informed decision regarding the potential of reanimation
against leaving one's money to charity, children, etc.)

I will offer the following set of proposals for getting the most out of life
based on the research I have done.

1) Don't smoke, eat a low fat diet (<20% of calories), exercise, avoid stress
   Most of the diseases we associate with aging (heart disease, diabetes,
   high blood pressure, etc.) are primarily due to our lifestyles.
   [See: The Pritican Program (1979), The Pritican Promise (1983), N Pritican;
         The Paleolithic Prescription (1988), SB Eaton MD, M Konnder, MD, PhD;
         The New American Diet System (1991), SL Connor MS, RD, WE Connor MD]

2) Eat plenty of fiber, fruits and veggies (esp. broccoli).
   Take vitamin supplements, particularly vit. E, C and beta-carotene.
   Very few people consume enough fiber and only 9% of the population eats
   the recommended amounts of fruits & veggies which is probably the major
   cause of cancer in our society after smoking.  This is especially
   important for the elderly who may have problems absorbing nutrients.
   [See: Formula for Life (1989), E Kronhausen et al;
         American J. Clincal Nutrition (1991) 53(Sup. 1), many articles]

3) Get vaccinations, for Hepatitis if you travel and Human Papilloma Virus
   when it becomes available.  Viruses are a major cause of cancer world wide.

4) Restrict your calorie intake by 30% while maintaining nutrient intake.
   This is for the real diehards .  It extends life by 20-40% in fish, insects
   and several small mammal species.  The primate study is underway but results
   will not be available for years and even then may not be conclusive due
   to the low numbers of animals involved.  If it works you will add 10-30
   excellent years to your life.
   [See: The 120 Year Diet (1986) and Maximum Life Span (1983), Roy Walford, MD
	 The Retardation of Aging and Disease by Dietary Restriction (1988),
	 R Weindruch, PhD, R Walford, MD]

5) Make a major effort to reduce factors associated with accidents and cancer.
   This includes things like: cars with air bags and antilock brakes,
   fire sensors in your home, carcinogens in your diet/environment
   (alcohol, secondary smoke, charcoal broiled meats, nitrates, peanut butter,
   asbestos, formaldehyde, etc.) and radiation exposure from X-rays, radon
   high altitude flying and fireplace ashes from wood the eastern US).
   [See: Science 236 (1987), 267-285, several articles;
          In Search of Safety (1988), JD Graham, LC Green, MJ Roberts]
   Also, support the reduction of environmental pollution.
   [See, The Betrayal of Health, (1991), Ch 5,6, JD Beasley, MD]

6) People whom are afflicted with a non-genetic disease, perhaps 
   age related, should redouble their efforts on 1 and 2.
   [See: Reversing Heart Disease (1991), D Ornish;
         Immune for Life (1989), A Fox, MD, B Fox]

[For those people who dislike some of my recomendations please cite
references if possible when responding.]

A proper lifestyle should allow you to make it into your 90's as an active
vital human being unless you have a bad set of genes.  The odds for this
vary from 1 in 500 for heart disease to perhaps 1 in 5-10 for cancer to
maybe 1 in 3-5 for Alzheimers).  Calorie restriction might push you to
110-120.  After that the only hopes are genetic therapy or cryonics.

I'm not sure if this addresses Gerald's comments.  I would only recommend
that if I were an elderly person with a "fatal disease of aging" I would
spend some time with Medline and find myself the physicians who seem to
be getting the best results and go visit them.  I would determine if the
additional life they could offer me justified the time, pain and expense
which would have to be invested and make a decision regarding treatment.
I would also get a second and third opinion.  Medicine is an inexact
science.  For example, doctors do 300,000 balloon angioplasties every
year.  I had a pathologist at the Univ. of Washington who stood in front
of a class and said that he personally would never undergo angioplasty
because the damage caused by the process is almost guaranteed to cause
vessel blockage to reoccur.   Why undergo an expensive, potentially life
threatening treatment if it only provides a short (1-2 yr) solution?!?
(I think people would try other less expensive solutions first if they were
paying the bills rather than the insurance companies or the government.)

[Note: I am not a doctor and all of the above is not "medical advice".]
[Note2: If you are sick see a doctor.  If you are well and want to live
        a long time, educate yourself and stay away from them... :-)]

  Death is an imposition on the human race, and no longer acceptable
				Alan Harrington, The Immortalist (1969)

  There are many virtues to growing old. [Long pause.]
  I am just trying to think of what they are.
				Somerset Maugham at eighty

Robert Bradbury			uunet!sftwks!bradbury

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