Saturday, July 08, 2006

How to live a long and healthy life (but not forever)

The field of life-prolonging research is full of quackery, such as:

Aubrey de Grey of the University of Cambridge, in England, ... favours intervening directly to repair the changes in the body that are caused by ageing. This is an approach he dubs “strategies for engineered negligible senescence”. In other words, if ageing humans can be patched up for 30 years, he argues, science will have developed sufficiently to make further repairs more effective, postponing death indefinitely.

But research is showing that emotional well-being—especially our emotional support network—is an important determinant of how "successfully" we age:

Older people who engage in a lot of social interactions stay young for their chronological age, argues John Rowe, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Research has shown that people who receive emotional support not only have higher physical performance than their isolated counterparts, but also that they show lower levels of hormones that are associated with stress.

—Mellow Monk

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