Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Longevity Revolution: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life (new book)

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Here is a new book for discussion (click on the book title below for more detail):

The Longevity Revolution:
The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life

by Dr. Robert N. Butler

From Publishers Weekly:
There is probably no one who knows more about aging than Butler, who coined the term ageism, and founded the federal National Institute on Aging and the first medical school department of geriatrics. Winner of a Pulitzer for Why Survive? Butler now examines the health, economic and social consequences of the growing elderly population. Increasing longevity brings a host of challenges, such as finding better (and cheaper) treatments for chronic health problems; building a health-care system capable of handling the load; and legal protection against age discrimination. Many of Butler's topics overlap with family and women's issues, whether creating a fair elder-care system or strengthening profamily work policies. The author supplies plenty of hard data and lengthy notes. Although his discussions of Alzheimer's and various theories of aging are too technical for the average reader, most of his points are clear and concise, and quite optimistic; for example, Butler urges the need to reinvent ourselves to stay in the workforce. He presents a strong argument for why everyone, from individuals to doctors, marketers and policy makers, should pay far more attention to the growing elderly population worldwide.

Times Online, UK - Mar 8, 2008:
"A new book, The Longevity Revolution, recently argued that in the coming century the human lifespan will extend to 120 years. Robert Butler, the book’s author, is a professor of geriatrics at a medical school in New York and is still working at the age of 80."

Publisher: Public Affairs; 1 edition (March 2008)

Selected quotes from this book:

p. 11:
"It is sheer foolishness to imagine that we can extend life ... without substantial governmental participation"

"Indeed, some believe that humans can master their evolution. Among them is Aubrey de Grey of Cambridge University, who suggests a life expectancy of five thousand years by 2100 [17]. The philosopher John Harris of Oxford views extraordinary longevity from another perspective when he considers the possibility of immortality and its consequences for mankind [18]."

p. 106:
"The NIH works as follows: governmental officials do not decide who receives grants to conduct research. Study sections composed of scientists from universities do so. This is called peer review, and it has worked uncommonly well. Proposals are either rejected or approved and given scores. However, in 2007 only about 15 to 20 percent of approved grants were funded, depending on the institute.
I believe that at least 30 percent of approved grants (if not more) should be funded. ... When funds are tight, review committees act too cautiously and conservatively. Funds should be available to support risky research."

p. 110:
"Today less than 1 percent of the entire federal budget is spent on medical research. Both to improve health and control costs, I propose that 3 percent of the nation's overall health bill ($1.8 trillion projected as 2005) or $54 billion be available to NIH for medical research from federal revenues. I also propose that of Medicare expenditures, 1 percent (or $3 billion) be devoted to the National Institute on Aging. This investment should increase in line with the Medicare budget, but scientific research, in fact, could lower Medicare expenditures.
To give some perspective, the FY2006 NIA budget approached $1 billion. The national Alzheimer's Disease Association argued in 2005 that the NIH as a whole should devote at least $1 billion annually for research on Alzheimer's disease. While the numbers I am suggesting may seem extraordinary, I believe the level of scientific progress in the field since the 1950s justifies such a program, which could be dubbed the Apollo Program for Aging and Longevity Science."

p. 118 - 119:
"An orbital jump in financing of science is required to advance longevity and health as well as national wealth."

p. 162:
"... it may soon be possible to delay both aging and age-related disease in humans."

p. 187:
"The present level of development of aging and longevity research justifies an Apollo-type effort to control aging ...
Now we have both past work as a foundation and new scientific tools offering hope that we may soon have a more prolonged, vigorous and productive life and added longevity. During the twenty-first century, the century of the life sciences, longevity science should truly come of age."

p. 298:
"Advances in genomics and regenerative medicine will give us advances in longevity."

p. 314:
"Some members of Congress, for example, worrying about costs of increasing numbers of older persons, fear and oppose success of life extension research."

p. 315:
"The 2005 WHCOA [White House Conference on Aging] was the first time a president [George Bush] did not appear, although he was only an hour or so away speaking to an upscale audience of older persons about the Medicare Prescription Act. It was ironic, indeed absurd, that the administration killed funding for a training of teachers in geriatrics at the same time that the WHCOA was in process."

p. 401:
"... science will find new ways to extend life and its quality. Evidence suggests that morbidity can be further compressed, and society can adapt to the growing numbers of older persons." ...

"Now in the twenty-first century we may be poised at the frontier of biological time -- the prospect of germline engineering, the means by which the human species would direct its own evolution and extend its life span." ...

"Enthusiasts over the future of cell, tissue, and organ replacement imagine successive, comprehensive reconstitutions of the body. Replacement or regenerative medicine would push death back, presumably indefinitely."

"One must not doubt the possibility of the unexpected in science and the uneven evolution of knowledge."

Key words:
New books, Longevity Revolution, Robert Butler, Public Affairs, Long Life, Population Aging, Ageism, geriatrics, longevity, Alzheimer's

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