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What will be the result if we treat aging like a disease?
What will be the result if we treat aging like a disease? 100 years ago, we believed that cancer and heart disease were natural. Today, we are able to treat or even prevent diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
We have always believed that aging and death are natural. As humans grow older, they will naturally age and die. However, so far scientists have not found evidence that death is inevitable, and more and more studies have shown that aging Can be delayed or even reversed.
The aging and death of human beings are accompanied by the emergence of diseases. We can deny that aging itself is a disease. If we regard aging as a disease, what will be the result if we treat aging like a disease?
On July 5, 2021, Nature Aging published an article titled: The economic value of targeting aging from Andrew Scott and others at the London Business School.
The article pointed out that the economic benefits of treating aging as a disease and the prevention and treatment of aging and improving healthy life expectancy may amount to tens of trillions of dollars.
The research team stated that we spend 17% of our income on health care, and most of it is spent in the last year of life. If humans’ “healthy” life expectancy increases by 2.6 years, it can greatly reduce cancer, dementia, and cardiovascular disease. The occurrence of disease brings economic value of up to 83 trillion U.S. dollars.
In the last 150 years, human life expectancy has increased significantly. However, these increased lifespans are not all healthy. An analysis of the Global Burden of Disease database shows that the proportion of people in good health remains roughly the same, which means that the number of years of poor health is increasing.
In addition, the burden of disease is shifting to chronic non-communicable diseases, which means that a considerable part of the lives of many people are spent in weakness or disability caused by chronic diseases until death.
Therefore, people began to pay more and more attention to “healthy aging” instead of blindly seeking to extend life expectancy, and there have been research institutions and commercial companies focusing on the biology of aging.
The economic value of extending healthy life expectancy or fighting aging in a broad sense rather than fighting specific diseases is receiving great attention and shows great prospects.
George Church, the godfather of contemporary genomics and a professor at Harvard University, once said that if there are 10 billion US dollars, it should be used to study anti-aging .
Andrew Scott and others used the existing economic, health, and demographic data of the United States to construct an economic model and calculated specific amounts for the economic benefits of increased life expectancy, improved health, and changes in the rate of aging.
To make the model clearer, the author introduces four different test scenarios, and uses four famous virtual characters to illustrate to help readers understand. The four characters are Peter Pan, Wolverine, Dorian Gray, and Strudbrugg.
The Strudbruggers are the characters in the novel “Gulliver’s Travels”. They were born with the ability to live forever, but the years passed on them normally. Therefore, as they age, they are not dead but healthy. The situation is getting worse and life is very painful. The author of the paper used him to represent the situation of long life expectancy but poor health.
Dorian Gray is a character in the novel “Portrait of Dorian Gray”. He exchanged his soul to maintain his youth and beauty, but in the end he was addicted to pleasure and died of his own desire. The author of the paper used him to represent the condition of long healthy life but short life expectancy.
Wolverine is a superhero character in Marvel comics. He has super healing that regenerates body tissues. Therefore, he can quickly repair damage. The author of the paper used him to represent the reversal of aging.
Peter Pan is a character in the novel “Peter Pan”. He is a little boy who does not want to grow up and will not grow up. The author of the paper used him to represent the situation of delaying aging.
Simulations show that interventions aimed at aging have economic value, because these interventions are expected to extend both healthy lifespan and life expectancy. It is estimated that the annual economic benefits due to the extension of life span amount to US$38 trillion, significantly exceeding previous expectations.
They also found that the most economically valuable approach is to ensure that healthy life expectancy is proportional to life expectancy. The more ideal the way of aging, the greater the value of further improving aging.
As with all model studies, the specific numbers at the end of this study are very sensitive to the input data and the precise calibration of the model. Regardless of the difference between the previous estimates, the economic value of improving aging remains the same. From an economic point of view, this further affirms the value of research on the prevention and treatment of aging compared to the research on prevention and treatment of individual diseases.
(source:internet, reference only)