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Longevity Gene Found 358

Posted by samzenpus
from the you're-older-than-you've-ever-been dept.
quixote9 writes "Calorie restriction while maintaining nutrient levels has long been known to dramatically increase life spans. Very different lab animals, from worms to mice, live up to 50% longer (or even more) on the restricted diets. However, so far, nobody has been able to figure out how this works. Scientists at the Salk Institute have found a specific gene in worms (there's a very similar one in people) that is directly involved in the longevity effect. That opens up the interesting possibility that doctors may someday be able to activate that gene directly and we can live long and prosper . . . without giving up chocolate."
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Longevity Gene Found

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  • OTOH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Virtual_Raider (52165) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:04AM (#18969847) Homepage
    I am of two minds on this. I'd like to enjoy a longer lifespan than I would otherwise expect and I would want my loved ones (and everyone in the world for that matter) to have it too. But if according to the wikipedia we are well over SIX THOUSAND MILLION people alive at the moment, the world would find itself in a much worse position if we stopped dieing and clearing the way for younger generations.
  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:08AM (#18969867) Journal
    Why would you do nothing after you retire?
  • by Scarblac (122480) <> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:09AM (#18969869) Homepage

    There's no way society would be able to afford that. If we all lived to 150, you'd see the retirement age raised to 100+.

    That said, being retired doesn't mean you do nothing...

  • Re:OTOH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:17AM (#18969915)
    Don't worry about it. Market forces will make it such that only the richest 3% of the population can afford the treatment.
  • by Door in Cart (940474) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:19AM (#18969921)
    Our current life expectancy is already putting such a burden on our social security system. When will people realize that quality of life != quantity of life? How is our great-grandkids' generation supposed to support millions of supercentenarians?
  • Re:OTOH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pipatron (966506) <> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:26AM (#18969975) Homepage
    Please check [] for a better solution than dying.
  • by MadCow42 (243108) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:26AM (#18969977) Homepage
    Well, "retirement age" is just a reflection of what point in your life you become:

    1) able to financially support yourself for the rest of your life without continuing to work, and

    2) possibly no longer valuable in the workforce (i.e. too expensive for the quality/quantity of work you can contribute)

    Living longer would mean you need more money to support yourself in retirement, or that you need to delay retiring. The second point depends on what health state (and mental state) you're in at an older age.

    Personally, I plan to retire as soon as possible - but there's no way I could support myself and wife/etc. for 80+ years on what I've saved to date!

  • Re:OTOH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vidarh (309115) <> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:32AM (#18970007) Homepage Journal
    Birth rates are already well below maintenance levels in most industrialized countries, and even China is set to see it's population peak soon due to the one child policy. The solution to the problem of too high growth is helping developing countries out of poverty.

    We're maybe as little as a century away from actually seeing the worlds population shrinking unless we start increasing lifespans a lot faster than we have.

  • Re:OTOH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teslar (706653) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:50AM (#18970087)

    (...) the world would find itself in a much worse position if we stopped dieing and clearing the way for younger generations.
    Well, that's the thing, we won't stop dying - we'll only stop dying of old age. There's still plenty of accidents and murders to keep the population under control. Also, I'm pretty sure that if you could actually have eternal life, you'll get bored of it eventually and will top yourself given that nature's no longer doing the job for you. And I'll bet that would happen before your 200th birthday.

    I'd like to enjoy a longer lifespan than I would otherwise expect
    I guess not all long lives are the same - having the body of a 20 year old for 100 years instead of, well, one is one thing, having the body of a 150 year old who would normally have died 80 years ago for 100 years is quite another. So be careful what you wish for when you ask for longer lifespans. Make sure you read the fine print first :)
  • Re:OTOH (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Virtual_Raider (52165) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:50AM (#18970089) Homepage

    Wow, my first "flamebait" :P Totally undeserved if we judge by the responses I got, which by the way were exactly the kind of discussion I wanted to have. Oh well, enough whining. I know that population rates decline on industrialized countries, but they don't hold the bulk of the population anyway. China alone has over a billion people, yes, but India has another and they have no such policy. And neither do many of the developing countries. So unfortunately it just seems like the weight of the population is just going to shift even more towards the places where living standards aren't the greatest, which will make all the more difficult for them to improve their quality of life.

  • by knapper_tech (813569) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:55AM (#18970119)
    If I could get a few more years earlier in life while I still have gobs of energy and relatively no responsibilities... Suddenly four years for a degree wouldn't seem like a huge investment. A year of study abroad in Japan wouldn't be an issue. I might have two hobbies. Long term investments would make more sense. I would take more time to learn more things, aquire more skills, and experience a broader life.

    In short, I think living longer would make it a lot easier to live sensibly. As it is, if I have to weight the risks of investing time or taking something I can do now, I end up taking the most courageous and risky courses possible.

    I don't think it's a relative thing either. Not in the sense that, regardless of whatever time-span I had, I would always wish, "Wow, if only I had twice as much." In an absolute sense, I just don't think I'll ever have the years to do all the things I want to. It makes it seem really pointless to invest eight years into something (for instance, undergrad + med-school) when it's such a large investment that, by the time I get done, I will have lost many opportunities of youth, but I couldn't put such a thing off because, who wants to invest eight years in something that will only pay off for twenty?

    Humanity is robbed. People live crazy lives because we are going to die too soon to live fully, so life is futile. Damn whatever you recognize as the determining factor of our longevity. The light is green to research like this.
  • by Knutsi (959723) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:57AM (#18970129)

    It's not the drugs that are the problem, it's our never-ending population growth! The more land we turn into farmland, the more kids we have, that again will need to turn new land into farmland, or squeeze even more out of what is allready there to stay alive, and have more kids that needs more farmland... and so on, so forth...

    Seriously, we know that we will crack the secrets to long life at one point or another. We know that we want to maintain a high standards of living, and achieve self-realiszation. We want there to be wild nature left. We want there to be more species that rats, cockroaches, dogs and cats living alongside us.

    It doesn't take a genious to see that a major pieces in the puzzle that is our long-term survival is population control, and we need to enact it now. Global warming is a small piece in comparison.

    To those who wish to endulge, I'd stornly reccomend Daniel Quinn's excellend books 'Ishmael []', and 'The Story of B'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:10AM (#18970219)
    OH JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, if you have double longevity you dont get infirm at 70 and live like a cabbage for another 90 years. your entire life scales up, so you'd get infirm at 140 and have 20 years as a leech, which aint much more than people have now.
  • Re:OTOH (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khallow (566160) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:43AM (#18970403)

    Also, I'm pretty sure that if you could actually have eternal life, you'll get bored of it eventually and will top yourself given that nature's no longer doing the job for you. And I'll bet that would happen before your 200th birthday.

    Either that, or after 200 years, they'll have figured out how to not be bored. Frankly, it's not that hard.
  • Re:Earlier death (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <`moc.nosduh-arab ... `nosduh.arabrab'> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:44AM (#18970405) Journal

    "You can have my extended life gene when you pry it from my cold dead hands."

    Seriously, if you want to extend life, ban fructose as a sweetener. Unlike regular sugar, fructose blocks the hormones that make you "feel full" so you continue eating and drinking (esp. soda pop). 2/3 of the population is overweight, and a LOT of those are obese. Of course, a fructose ban would result in lower sales of all junk foods (because you'll "feel full" sooner), so expect it to be fought by the manufacturers, who're just fattening you up fo the slaughter.

  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:49AM (#18970431)

    It doesn't take a genious to see that a major pieces in the puzzle that is our long-term survival is population control, and we need to enact it now.

    We've been doing it since the dawn of time. It's called war.

  • by AGMW (594303) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:18AM (#18970633) Homepage
    ... or just retire and live self-sufficient after I accumulated enough money

    If people end up living to 200 or 250 (obviously, whilst retaining their faculties) why would they necessarily "work-then-retire"?

    Why not work until you have enough put by to have 5/10/15 years doing something you like doing, then work a bit more, then have more time off. This way you wouldn't have to work until you are 100 before you could enjoy yourself! Much better to work until you are, say, 30, then have 5 years off, then work some more. Rinse Lather Repeat, er, Profit?

  • by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2 AT gdargaud DOT net> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:38AM (#18970821) Homepage
    So if we live 50% slower (because of energy deprivation), we actually live 50% longer. <SARCASM> Whoah, what a great dicovery... </SARCASM> It's exactly the opposite of Achilles' choice: either to be a great and famous hero and die young or to live a long happy life without any lasting fame. We all know how it ended.
  • by freefrag (728150) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:39AM (#18971505)
    You don't even need a mandate to use real sugar; just remove all sugar tariffs and corn subsidies.
  • Re:Earlier death (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phisbut (761268) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:51AM (#18971667)

    The commonly accepted path to immortality is to get rid of all the things that kill you, one at a time. This is just another step.

    Only until Americans realize getting rid of things that kill you also means getting rid of guns, then they'll go all Second Amendment on you.

  • Re:Earlier death (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:20AM (#18972061)
    The OP is thinking of Aspartame.
  • Re:Earlier death (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @11:36AM (#18973369)
    While guns increase average deaths, in specific cases, ownership of a gun increases life span.

    If two sane people had had guns at VT or Kileen, Tx Luby's, a lot less people would have died.

    However, the average citizen tends to get angry, or has a clever child that gets a hold of the gun, or is just joking around, etc. etc. and so we get more total deaths from having a lot of guns out there.

    All that being said. The reason for the second amendment is to protect us from the government when it *inevitably* goes evil on us. They always do. They always will. When they do- hundreds of thousands or evil millions of people die really fast.

    So it is just a question of how long before you need guns to protect yourself.

  • Re:OTOH (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kalirion (728907) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @12:09PM (#18973933)
    Some pirates achieved immortality by great deeds of cruelty or derring-do. Some achieved immortality by amassing great wealth. But the captain had long ago decided that he would, on the whole, prefer to achieve immortality by not dying. - Terry Pratchett, The Color of Magic

    As nice as it would be to leave some sort of a lasting legacy behind, I would greatly prefer to be there myself. Even if Prestige-like technology existed to make an identical clone, memories and all, it would not be enough. Obviously if living becomes too much of a burden, there's always suicide. Anyway, I have a feeling we'll have a cure for alzheimer's long before we have a cure for aging.
  • Re:Earlier death (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:26PM (#18980565)
    That doesn't change the basic reasons why the provision is there. We have lots of provisions and laws that become dated. Unfortunately, I agree with you that, despite their original intentions, at this point the combination of surveillance cameras, weaponry, and a fine sense of just how much they can take from us before we object means it is unlikely we could do anything.

    On other hand- if you have a gun, you can probably get a machine gun. And indirect attacks so successful in Iraq would be equally effective here. And, the army is no where near big enough to take on an entire population armed even with hunting rifles and being sneaky.

  • Re:OTOH (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rozz (766975) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:14AM (#18987031)

    As long as there are gene sequencer machines on the market and people like me studying cell biology, don't worry, it'll be done in private residences. Switching on genes isn't so hard.

    thx for the good news.
    and good luck!

    and for the shitless scared luddites that hear about some tech advance and start talking about frankenstein and whatnot .. pls go join the first amish community or whatever ... there you will be able to share your fear with same minded ppl and be "happy".

    humans are supposed to advance ... we may conquer the space and time, or we may destroy ourselves ... noone knows for sure and nothing says that humans must live forever .. but stagnation (at any level) is a sure path to extinction

"The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy." -- Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards