Another article recognizing the general expectations that life span will continue to increase….

 By Bob Cummings:  We’re talking about “Radical Life Extension” here!

At least, that’s according to the Pew Research Center, which came out with a large report Aug. 6 entitled, “Living to 120 and Beyond.”

One of its surprising findings: The majority of those surveyed think other people would want to live to 120 or longer, while they, personally, would not.

In fact, while most Americans would choose to live longer than the current average life span of 78.7 years (2010 U.S. data), only 9 percent want to live past 100.

Given that placebos reveal how our expectations and thinking aid recovery and benefit health, it’s not too hard to recognize that these same factors probably also contribute to healthier aging and greater life expectancy.

So, what are our expectations?

Years ago, a young boy in my Sunday School class asked me why people today don’t live to be over 900 like some in Old Testament days.

We were probably reading about Noah. The Bible says Noah lived to be 950 and some others about the same. Scholars struggle to explain the viability of these high numbers. Perhaps the explanation given by George Stanley Faber, Oxford-educated typologist, presents the view of many, saying that they simply serve to show “that the longevity of the early patriarchs was well known throughout the gentile world.”

In any case, I wasn’t sure I had a good answer. I felt that their notable longevity was probably due, in large part, to a close connection with the Divine.

Trying to get him to think this through for himself, I commented that today the average life expectancy is in the seventies, and perhaps they didn’t have that expectation back then. No one told them they would only live into their seventies. “So”, I said, “be careful what number you decide to expect for yourself.” And without a moment’s hesitation, he said, “I pick 200!”

The Pew report says, “When asked about the future likelihood of ‘the average person’ in the United States living to at least 120 years, nearly three-quarters (73%) say it either probably or definitely will not happen by the year 2050.”

The report also references a companion report entitled, “To Count Our Days: The Scientific and Ethical Dimensions of Radical Life Extension.”

It shares that Aubrey de Grey, a former Cambridge University researcher now with the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Research Foundation, views aging as a disease to be cured. De Grey says that people fear longer life spans as part of coping with the inevitability of aging. But he says that when aging is no longer inevitable, this mindset then becomes part of the problem. He says that we can realize that aging is not necessary.

In his book entitled, “Long For This World – The Strange Science of Immortality”, author Jonathan Weiner shares that De Grey believes that in the future, it will be possible for human beings to live much longer than they do today, even perhaps to 1,000.

Maybe we’ll see increasing longevity sooner than we think.

The World Health Organization reported last year that, “worldwide, the proportion of older people in the total population is increasing at more than three times the overall population growth rate.”

W.H.O. Director Dr. Margaret Chan said, “we need to change our thinking about people in the over-sixty age group, in radical ways.” (Can you say, “radical life extension”?)

Chan said further, “When a 100-year-old man finishes a marathon, as happened last year, we know that conventional conceptions of old age must change… We need to respect older people as rich sources of wisdom and experience, as assets for society, not burdens, as new models for the ‘new normal’.”

Who’s to say, perhaps greater longevity – today, and before advances in gene therapies and biomedical engineering – is actually driven by changing views among the population.

Here are some tips for healthy aging offered by 100 centenarians – “rich sources of wisdom and experience” – polled by Roper Public Affairs and Media as reported earlier this month in The Lompoc Record in California:

  • Stay close to family and friends;
  • Keep your mind active – never stop learning;
  • Laugh and have a sense of humor;
  • Keep moving
  • Stay in touch with your spirituality.

The Bible shares similar advice, along with the counsel to, first of all, “start with God”, and says that following this advice will “help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well” (Proverbs 1:7 & 3:2, The Message).

When it comes to life expectancy, expect more – much more!