Shifting focus from life extension to ‘healthspan’ extension

Disparities in longevity should be addressed.

Clinicians, scientists and public health professionals should proudly “declare victory” in their efforts to extend the human lifespan to its very limits, according to University of Illinois at Chicago epidemiologist S. Jay Olshansky.

In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Olshansky writes that the focus should shift to compressing the “red zone” — the time at the end of life characterized by frailty and disease, and extending the “healthspan” — the length of time when a person is alive and healthy.

Olshansky, professor of epidemiology in the UIC School of Public Health, discusses how human longevity has reached into its upper limits and has little room for further gains. He notes that at the turn of the 20th century, life expectancy at birth in most developed nations ranged from 45 to 50 years. With the emergence of major public health initiatives in the late 19th century — including sanitation and the public provision of clean water — mortality rates dropped, and life expectancy increased rapidly. The rise in longevity has slowed considerably in recent decades, and maximum lifespan has never changed much throughout human history.

Funding for elements of the Longevity Dividend concept was provided by the MacArthur Foundation, through its Research Network on an Aging Society, and a Glenn Award for Medical Research from the Glenn Foundation. Olshansky is co-founder and chief scientist at Lapetus Solutions, Inc.

Read the full article here.
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