Uncomfortable Realities

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Longevity Index

It's interesting to contemplate what would happen if we could eliminate the leading causes of death:.
   
    The total 1996 death rate attributable to all causes was
2,320,000 a year.

    The leading cause of death was cardiac disease, with a 1996 death rate of
734,000.
    The second leading cause of death was cancer, with a 1996 death rate of
544,000.
    The third leading cause of death was cerebrovascular (strokes), with a death rate of
160,000.
    Running neck and neck with that was pulmonary disease, with a death rate of
160,000 also.
    Next on the list were accidents, with a death rate of
94,000. To that might be added the 30,000-per-year rate of suicide, and a 20,000-per-year rate of homicide to arrive at a grand total of 144,000.

    The accidental death rate is worth pondering. Out of a 1995 population of
260,000,000, the above age-independent causes would remove 144,000 a year, leading to a mean lifetime of 260,000,000/144,000 = 1,805 years ~ 1,800 years... quite a bit higher than the 400-year life expectancy estimate that I read in 1979.

    Beyond accidents come pneumonia and influenza, with a combined death rate of 82,600.
    (Pneumonia and influenza should be avoidable through flu and pneumonia shots.)
    Next is diabetes, weighing in at 61,600.
    Then we have AIDS, at 32,700.
    The coms liver disease at 25,000, followed by kidney disease at 24,000. Next is septicemia, at 21,000. Alzheimer's Disease also claims 21,000 a year, and atherosclerosis another 17,000.
    If we add AIDS, septicemia, and some part of the influenza and pneumonia deaths to our age-independent death toll, we might well fall below a 1,000-year lifetime, given complete rejuvenation. And some portion of "All Other Causes" (
347,000 a year) might bring the lifetime of the average "immortal" down toward the 400-year lifespan that I read about in 1979.

Cultivating Respect for the Degenerative Disease That Is Waiting for You in Your Own Future
    We are the only species that knows that it's going to die, and that knows that it will probably die unpleasantly. (With our not-uncommon perversity, we grant sweet surcease to our pets, but insist that we ourselves must suffer unbearably, in deference to our Stone Age superstitions. It shouldn't be this way.) 
    Researchers all over the world are striving with might and main to conquer our leading diseases. These days, it's no longer just the United States or Western Europe that's storming the ramparts.  Medical research can, and is, being performed everywhere now. There's an enormous number of researchers who are investigating these diseases with the rapidly improving techniques of modern biology. The Internet probably contributes mightily to this effort by allowing instant access to a very large  amount of information (although some of the more important is probably proprietary). Still, it will be many years before what's in the research news today will make it to the clinic, at least in the U. S. Medical progress proceeds with glacial slowness. This makes it important that we do all we can to avoid environmental insults, and to avail ourselves of protective measures are known. This is truly a situation in which an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
    Our attitude toward what can happen to us is, for many of us, one of avoidance. In a way, I suppose this is necessary because we couldn't function if we really knew what our own personal futures held for us. On the other hand, it encourages us to ignore the ultimate perils of living imprudently, and particularly, of how awful it is to have one of these terminal diseases. (I'm as guilty of this as anyone else.) It's too bad that we can't immediately feel pain when we're exposed to sunlight, or when we eat something that's harmful to us. But unfortunately, we aren't able to feel (strongly) these kinds of avoidable toxins. And the penalties are terrible. These diseases generally run on for years, getting worse and worse until they kill us.
    I'm going through all of this because I'm realizing the overweening importance of avoiding  environmental factors that are known to bring on these debilities.
    My name is Marlow. Jacob Marlow.

Curing Our Three Leading Diseases: Cardiac, Cancer, and Stroke
    If we could cure cancer and greatly reduce cardiovascular disease so that someone 90 years old had cells with fully-repaired DNA and had arteries and veins as supple as someone 20 or 30 years younger, in many ways, they would probably be 20 or 30 years younger. The mechanisms that could remove plaques from arteries and restore their elasticity would probably do the same for all the similar collagen- and elastin-bearing tissues in the body. Similarly, if their cells' DNA could be better repaired than it is, another nail in the coffin that is aging would have been removed. In other words, reversing aging is integral to preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease. (Curing it once it starts may be another matter.)