Mission: provide useful information on healthy aging - and science news on longer life and health.
No treatment yet will give most people additional decades of healthy, active life by slowing aging or repairing some of its damage. But many living today will almost certainly have this choice (barring global catastrophe), because scientific and medical discoveries on aging have accelerated greatly in recent years, with no end in sight. When this choice becomes real, the world will will change.
Healthspan21 reports on progress toward greater healthspan (healthy lifespan) in the 21st century. We are non-commercial and independent; we do not sell anything, carry ads, get paid for influence, links or recommendations, accept industry funding, track people, or collect personally identifiable information. Not that commerce is bad - but in healthcare it strongly focuses communication toward selling particular products, not what is best for the person who will use them.
And we are not attached to any particular theory of aging. There are many legitimate scientific theories, and we look for what works, for practical results.
Most of the aging-research news in the media comes from university press offices when their scientists publish in peer-reviewed journals. Usually the universities do an excellent job of explaining their work to the public (though sometimes they over-promote). But their mission is to highlight the success of their people - so important context gets left out because it was discovered earlier or somewhere else. Our mission is to provide background and references on some of the most important aging research news - especially news relevant to health today. And we include practical information, such as how to minimize price gouging when filling your prescriptions in the U.S.
Research progress on understanding aging is much faster now than ever before, for several reasons:
The main obstacles to progress against aging are:
It can be done. As of 2011, Americans already lived 34 years longer than they did a century ago - a second adult lifetime, due to better public health and better treatment of illnesses like heart disease or cancer. But while the average lifespan and healthspan increased greatly during the last century, maximum human lifespan, about 120 years, increased little if at all. The 21st century could give us much more additional healthspan than the 20th century did.
We published an AIDS treatment newsletter for 20 years, and saw cultural problems in modern, research-based medicine that are not well addressed.
For example, the main requirement for FDA or other government approval of a medicine is statistical evidence that it does something beneficial, on average, in well-controlled clinical trials. Sounds reasonable - but people differ greatly and you are not average. A small average benefit can mean a large benefit for a few, and little or none for others. So if the treatment is safe enough, affordable, and easy to try, it can make sense to see if you are one of the lucky ones - and if not, try something else.
Also, clinical trials are expensive (note The $800 Million Pill - published in 2004, and today's drug prices are worse). Low-cost unpatentable treatments are unlikely to be tested in major human trials, and therefore unlikely to get full FDA approval and enter standard medical practice. No wonder U.S. healthcare costs so much, when the dominant for-profit system only tests expensive medical options. No wonder the system doesn't change, when politicians can milk big pharma and others for the campaign money they need to keep up with each other.
On clinical testing, note that it's much easier to determine if a treatment works for you than if it works on average for a group. And if you are seeking relief, your comfort is what counts; there's no need to prove that you feel better. If it's a placebo effect, that just means the treatment is unlikely to keep working, and you will need to try something else. How you feel is the legitimate goal.
Our culture has two reality hats for medical treatments: one for academic science, big-pharma, and the FDA, and the other for everyday life and the supplements industry. The two realities barely speak to each other, as most people use one or the other all or most of the time. A more unified reality could better support decision-making under uncertainty, improving population health.
We will publish articles elsewhere (probably on Medium.com using the #Health, #Aging, and #Life Extension tags) when they appear here. On Medium, replies and comments are treated the same as any other articles. As with other sites, to publish comments you need to register on Medium.com with a valid email address.
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John S. James, age 78, founded AIDS Treatment News in 1986, and published and mostly wrote 423 issues of the newsletter during the next 20 years. For more information see Underground Press Leads Way in AIDS Advice, New York Times, December 16, 1991. Publishing AIDS Treatment News required hundreds of judgment calls on what information might help people stay alive and healthier longer.
Healthspan21.com is created by a writer, not a doctor, and does not provide medical advice. This site is for information only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice and treatment. If you need treatment or have questions about a health condition, see a qualified medical professional.
Page updated 2019-05-22
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