If it was possible, would you want to live forever? Depending on your situation in life, the answer could be an obvious yes or an obvious no.
If your life is going great, it’s all you ever dreamed it would be, then you’ll probably want to live forever. Why give up a good thing?
If you’re life isn’t going the way you want, nothing’s turned out like you planned, no dreams have come true, then you might recoil at the thought of doing it forever.
If your life is going great, rest assured most of us horribly resent you. But you should know we’re not talking about invincibility here. Any number of external forces could still easily take you out. We’re talking about not really aging and your health staying fine as the years go by.
So, you won’t be Superman, but if you take enough training you might be Batman some day.
How is it possible? It’s because inside of us, we’re all zombies. And zombies don’t die.
Well, that’s not exactly right, but I liked the way it sounded. Going by a story I read from the Associated Press, researchers have found our bodies create zombies cells as we age, and the more zombie cells we accumulate, the worse we look and feel. This is how the story put it:
“Zombie cells are actually called senescent cells. They start out normal but then encounter a stress, like damage to their DNA or viral infection. At that point, a cell can choose to die or become a zombie, basically entering a state of suspended animation. The problem is that zombie cells release chemicals that can harm nearby normal cells. That’s where the trouble starts.”
According to a doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, if you could rid yourself of these cells, or at least treat them, it would immediately eliminate a lot of diseases. So, while you wouldn’t get immortality as I foolishly promised earlier, your life expectancy could double or even triple. How would you feel about living 300 years?
There are drugs that eliminate zombie cells, at least in Mice. According to the story: “In mouse studies, drugs that eliminate zombie cells — so-called senolytics — have been shown to improve an impressive list of conditions, such as cataracts, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, enlargement of the heart, kidney problems, clogged arteries and age-related loss of muscle.”
Sounds good. And before you think what good does making healthy mice accomplish, keep in mind that mice, and rats, have astoundingly similar DNA to humans, or so I’ve read. Remember that the next time you’re feeling all high and mighty about yourself.
There have been limited studies on humans and there was some improvement in physical stamina, but not much else. Still, science is a world of steps and missteps until you get things figured out, so scientists are hopeful.
The lead doctor, a man named James Kirkland, says in the end nothing may come of it, or one day it might be the world’s number one medical miracle, available in generic form at whatever the top super store is at the time. It will take time, though.
That’s not good news for those of us past a certain age. I don’t know if “time” means five years, 10 year, 20 years or even 50 years. Anything beyond 10 years would be problematic for the people who could use it most.
And there are the philosophical questions about living so long. You would live long after those you love have died. And if you think the world has left you behind after 40 years, think how it would feel as you celebrated 250 years.
And there would be a serious problem of having WAY too many people in the world. Let’s say the world refreshes it’s population every 100 years. None of us, except maybe a couple of newborns, expect to be here 100 years from now. But what if we all were and the birth rate remained the same? We’d have 14, 15 billion people. Could the world handle that much?
Even if science does figure out a way to eliminate zombie cells, I doubt any of us will know about it. They could, I suppose, roll out the first FDA-approved treatments by 2025, but it’s not likely.
So, I guess just keep thinking how lucky you’ll be if you reach your 80s. Maybe your great grandkids will one day consider 80 to be the start of middle age.