World faces challenge as life expectancies lengthen, scientist says

In the 21st century, state-of-the-art anti-aging technologies may extend human lifespans at an unprecedented rate, bringing with them a host of social and economic challenges, says biologist Shripad Tuljapurkar of Stanford University.

The combined impact of these medical advances would have major implications for the global community in the new century. Tuljapurkar, the Dean and Virginia Morrison Professor of Population Studies, will give a talk Feb. 17 on the demographic and economic consequences of anti-aging therapies at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in St. Louis.

"Some people believe we are on the brink of being able to extend human lifespan significantly, because we've got most of the technologies we need to do it," Tuljapurkar said.

There is hope in the scientific community that extending life also will prolong the healthy and active years of life, he said, adding, "That's where I come in."

Aging populations around the world

In his research, Tuljapurkar selected representative populations from different countries around the world and examined relationships between historical trends in aging, population growth and economic activity. His analysis combined these data with forecasts on the future of anti-aging treatments from leading researchers in the field.

The result? "We've come up with a scenario: Starting around 2010, we could see lifespan increase dramatically," he predicted.

Tuljapurkar estimated that between 2010 and 2030, the modal, or most common, age of death will increase by 20 years if anti-aging therapies come into widespread use. This projected increase reflects a lifespan growth rate that is five times faster than the current rate, increasing the modal age of death in industrialized countries such as the United States from roughly 80 years to 100.

"We studied different countries around the world that are representative of di

Contact: Mark Shwartz
Stanford University

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