Is targeting longevity hype or hope?

Is targeting longevity hype or hope?

On the weekend my husband brought to my attention an opinion column in The Sunday Mail by Angela Mollard (not my usual weekend reading for obvious reasons) that claimed targeting longevity is the ‘new lunacy’ and an ‘insidious player’.   She specifically calls out male biohackers like Bryan Johnson, Dave Asprey, Dr Mark Hyman, Dr Peter Attia and Dr Andrew Huberman, among others, as being men who are promoting biohacks that are yet to be clinically proven. I found it a poorly researched piece which lacked substance.

After attending the Unlock Health Longevity Conference in Singapore, at which leading geroscientists and longevity researchers presented at, and the recent Biohacking Conference in Dallas, and having done my own research, it’s evident there is extensive research that has been completed on many of the biohacks that are on offer to us.

Her bid to discredit these leading biohackers borders on oppression of thought and innovation.

Yes, some biohackers are at times extreme in the types of hacks they try, but they are also strong advocates for foundational clinically evidenced “health hacks” like good nutrition, sleep and exercise – something everyone should be targeting to maintain good health.

As a change specialist, I’m familiar with humans resisting change. We like the norm, the familiar, and the certainty of what we already know.  Many of us, choose to snuggle in to our comfort zone rather than push the boundaries, try new things and expand our learning.    

The perception that ‘targeting longevity is lunacy’ is naïve, small minded, and ignorant. Out of the box thinking and brave experiments are responsible for so many amazing and brilliant progressions in health and technology.

Let’s look back in time to some real-life examples of progress/invention:

  • In the 1800s surgeons were resistant to handwashing, but once implemented mortality rates dropped from 18% to 1%.
  • 1885 – the automobile was invented, they were originally outlawed in some areas
  • 1945 – pap smear – my uterus and ovaries thank you!
  • 1973 – mobile phone
  • 1976 – Apple computer
  • 1979 MRI invented
  • 1982 – discovery of telomeres
  • 1995  triple organ transplant – my Mother had a heart transplant and would not be alive today without this medical advancement
  • 2001   the circadian clock – hello a goodnight’s sleep!

I could go on, but you get my drift.

Mollard says the quest for longevity is ‘troublingly self-centred and competitive’. The same could be said for the historical advances I have cited, but where would we be today without them?

Without trial, without creation, without experiment, humans would not grow and progress. Historical pioneers and modern day disruptors are those brave enough to challenge the norms and push for change, despite the critics. They’re the people who dream of a better life and future.

For me, targeting longevity is about limiting the suffering of humans from long-term chronic disease as we age. It’s about finding a way to help us to live well longer. To maintain our mobility and our overall health so we can continue to enjoy life and our loved ones.  

Mollard’s question, ‘What use is exemplary physical health if you don’t have social connections, purpose and empathy?’ is contradictory to her argument given social connection is a key pillar for longevity.

The pursuit for longevity should be sought and supported. None of us want to suffer as we age. Most of us know of someone that has died a painful cancerous death and would do anything to prevent that suffering. Targeting longevity is not just about living longer, it’s about implementing biohacks and lifestyle choices that help keep us healthy for longer. Thanks to our bioindividuality, personalised health is the future, which is why biohacking has a role.  The Blue Zones are a wonderful example of longevity and living well longer, something we should be wishing for everyone.


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