Commenting on Longevity Science Panelâ€™s new paper â€˜What is ageing? Can we delay it?â€™.
20 October 2014
Director of Longevity Risk, Legal & General
“Estimating pensioners’ longevity is a huge challenge for the Government, pension funds and annuity providers because longevity can be affected by the complex interaction of many factors such as lifestyle, genetics, health care as well as advancement in medical sciences. So, we welcome the Longevity Science Panel’s new paper ‘What is ageing? Can we delay it?’. In this latest paper the Panel has collated the views of eight eminent experts on the major advances being made in the understanding of ageing and the also the potential of anti-ageing interventions in extending our lifespan.
This topic is important to us and wider society, because anti-ageing technology might dramatically lengthen life expectancy. For example, recent research has shown genetic engineering can extend life expectancy in mice by 20%*. If this was possible to apply to humans, the website of USA's National Institutes of Health suggests that this could be equivalent to increasing the life expectancy of babies born today by 16 years, so that they live to age 95, rather than currently age 79.
In addition, the future outlook in the developed world differs widely. One possibility is a fall in life expectancy due to emerging obesity epidemic,**another is the possibility of us all living to at least a1,000 years old, helped by anti-ageing treatment***. With such a wide range of forecasts, it is extremely difficult for people to make plans for their future retirement, without getting some expert guidance.
The Panel’s paper helps to narrow some of the ‘anti-ageing’ uncertainties by providing valuable insights. For example, the conclusion that the biological processes of ageing are so complex that it is unlikely that a single anti-ageing drug could be available in the near future, helps to support the modelling that we do, which establishes our assumptions on people’s future life expectancy. The Longevity Science Panel’s conclusion that life expectancy will continue to rise in the next decade, but that the rate is then likely to slow down, is consistent with our outlook. We will enhance our understanding of how proven strategies highlighted by the Panel such as exercise, good nutrition and preventative medicine including statins would improve population longevity. However, these would not extend life expectancy as substantially as envisaged by some of the anti-ageing scenarios, such as living to 1,000, as mentioned above. So the Longevity Science Panel’s conclusions are important findings, that we will now factor into our future modelling and so help inform customers, intermediaries and business partners on the risks of living longer when considering financial planning for and at retirement.”
More details and a copy of the latest Longevity Science Panel paper, ‘What is ageing? Can we delay it?’ are available at http://www.longevitypanel.co.uk/biology-ageing
Notes to editors
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* 1. National Institutes of Health. Single gene change increases mouse lifespan by 20 percent [Internet]. 2013. Available from: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/aug2013/nhlbi-29.htm
* 2. Bernardes de Jesus B, Vera E, Schneeberger K, Tejera AM, Ayuso E, Bosch F, et al. Telomerase gene therapy in adult and old mice delays aging and increases longevity without increasing cancer. EMBO Mol Med. 2012 Aug;4(8):691–704.
**3. Olshansky SJ, Passaro DJ, Hershow RC, Layden J, Carnes BA, Brody J, et al. A potential decline in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century. N Engl J Med. 2005 Mar 17;352(11):1138–45.
***4. De Grey ADNJ. “We will be able to live to 1,000” [Internet]. BBC NEWS CHANNEL. 2004 [cited 2014 Aug 31]. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4003063.stm