Living longer- How long is too long?

Image of various pills  Following a paradigm shift from infectious to chronic disease, life expectancy rose for individuals, currently at 78.8 years of age (U.S based). The article linked below addresses how the drug rapamycin has been given to dogs in order to prolong life, in which questions as to how this drug might also prolong life for humans are mentioned. It’s interesting to consider that society already takes drugs in order to prolong life, ones that mitigate and help to control threatening symptoms or conditions. But what if there were a pill made specifically with the purpose to extend life beyond the average life expectancy? Perhaps one that slows the natural process of the body ‘shutting down’. For me, this is an acceptable but somewhat strange concept. Firstly, I think the concept can be problematic in terms of the incentive for creating or using such a drug. This is not to say that its use should be thought of as negative, especially considering how many individuals could continue to contribute to society beyond ages that would typically render them otherwise. However, I think this concept doesn’t necessarily stem from a desire to further innovation or even to improve society, I think it stems from a deep rooted fear of death and desire for control.

I also think that the concept of taking a drug to ‘extend’ life, falls into the general nature of western biomedical practices being aggressive, and purposed towards creating a more efficient and acceptable society. It seems within this discourse of integrating something into one’s life in order to enhance or improve the current status quo, questions arise that address why humans might be dissatisfied with a very natural and common phenomenon such as death. Again, I think this relates back to issues of control and fear of the unknown, in which taking a pill to extend the period of coming to terms with the end of life will be furthered. But at what point, if any, is extending life too much? I don’t think this is something that can be quantified in years, but is rather a consideration of  the extent that society is willing to go in order to avoid an inevitable process.

For reference:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/06/health/rapamycin-dog-live-longer/

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/life-expectancy.htm

One response to “Living longer- How long is too long?

  1. This is a very interesting topic, and one that I had not thought about very in-depthly before. It makes you wonder whether or not this drug would be something you would want to take, if given the choice. I would tend to echo your thinking that this desire to take a life-prolonging drug would probably stem from a fear or death or attempting to prevent the inevitable for as long as possible rather than coming from a desire to continue making meaningful contributions to society. I also agree with you that quality of life is something that cannot really be quantified in years, but I think that some might argue that being given more years might give one the opportunity to have more meaningful experiences that might in turn better their quality of life. However, I do think that it would be extremely problematic if humans began using a drug for the sole purpose of avoiding the inevitability of death. This could potentially make death an even more daunting and frightful experience than it already is for some.

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