As summer drew to a close this year we learned with great sadness of the passing of Dr. Robert Fogel, a brilliant Nobel laureate who in recent years focused on the economics of aging. Dr. Fogel concluded from his analysis of historical and physiological data that we are experiencing an acceleration of human evolution that is biological in nature but not necessarily genetic. People are taller, heavier, and longer-lived due to enhanced living conditions and technological advances.
It sounds simple: to fix American health care we just need to spend less on ineffective treatments and invest more in high quality medical care. And like solutions that sound simple, getting this balance right can be devilishly difficult.
Conventional political wisdom holds that economics will dominate the Presidential contest this year. That may be true, but increasingly clashes over scientific issues roil the American political waters: think global climate change, sex education, evolution, and Plan-B the so-called morning after pill.
The Washington Post has an interesting graphic in the newspaper today on the effects of aging on the brain. Highlighting recent research that shows the synapses are what deteriorate as we age – and not the brain’s cells, as previously thought – the Post explains how memories are formed, where decisions are made, and why the prefrontal cortex is so susceptible to the effects of aging. The Post also suggests some new therapies to aid in the regeneration of brain function, including estrogen replacement therapies for women, increased interaction with others, and making sure older people sleep better. For more tips to keep your brain healthy, check out the Alliance for Aging Research’s Brain Health Corner.
Those who care about increasing the good years of life through medical advances have lost another champion with the passing of Dr. T. Franklin Williams.
Americans are living longer than ever – and that’s something to be thankful for. As Time points out, our oldest population is getting older as well.
It was reported on the NBC Today Show that type 2 diabetes is on the rise worldwide – the number of adults suffering from the disease has doubled since 1980, and will double again by 2030. Why the uptick? Anchor Natalie Morales attributed the increase to “weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle.” There’s only one problem: It’s not true.
A story from the Agence France-Press wire service documents the strides being taken toward greater understanding of the aging process. The AFP highlighted a new technique out of France by which “cells from elderly donors can be rejuvenated as stem cells, erasing the ravages of age and showing that aging is reversible.”