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Medical Science: Increasing the Human Lifespan by Reducing Cell Damage

Updated on April 19, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty has advanced degrees in preventive medicine and health psychology, with 35 years of work in allergy and other autoimmune treatment.

Predictions and Biology

The great futurist Sir Arthur C. Clarke predicted that immortality would be obtained by humans through medical advances sometime in the Third Millennium AD (2001 - 3000). At the same time, this goal is obstructed by the fact that Human DNA is programmed to enable the cells of the body to replicate and hence, to survive, for only 113 years +/- a few years.

All this tells us that in order for the human being to routinely achieve immortality, the programming of the associated genetic materials must be changed.

If the genetics of the problem is confusing, then think of a young Captain Kirk rigging (reprogramming) the hardwired outcome of the Kobayashi Maru training simulation to allow for survival instead of death. Reprogramming is needed.

Can we achieve genetic reprogramming without incurring side effects of other genetic damage, such a mutations that lead to quicker death, cancers, birth defects, and the like? Genetic engineers, biomedical scientists, and research physicians work daily to lengthen the healthy human lifespan and make the human body more adaptable to outer space and its lack of gravity, high levels of radiation, associated psychological and sociological problems, and a host of other concerns.

The Red Mars Trilogy

Martian Immortality

For a current in-depth prediction of the outcomes of human habitation on Mars and its moons, and the discovery of methods for immortality, read the Red Mars Trilogy . It encompasses all of the notions of extraterrestrial settlement, religion(s), psycho-sociological phenomenon, immortality and at least a dozen other elements. The first in the trilogy, Red Mars , presents conditions as they are for NASA and privatized space flight partners in their Mission to Mars - talked about ever since Walt Disney began presenting related animated simulations in the 1950s.

While the romance and mystique is largely gone from previous literature and films that addressed alien life on Luna and Mars, a new romance is emerging - with proposed settlement of the red planet beginning 2030. Longer life spans are needed to allow for humans to explore beyond Mars, hence a fresh drive toward achieving immortality. People that fear death thus have hope of a forever after in that drive.

Can Aging be Stopped?

Andy Rooney retired from weekly work at the age of 92 from the television mainstay 60 Minutes on October 2, 2011. In a parting interview, he related that he did not like aging and dying, but that he cannot continue working forever.

American anti-aging programs emerged in the 1970s-1980s with the mind-body-spirit movement. An entire branch of science, gerontology, and a dedicated speciality of social services target human aging and its medical and social conditions today. The vastness in size of the Baby Boomer cohort is partially responsible for this.

Each decade, the expected lifespan of those born that decade increased overthaty of the cohort that came before. Medical science and advancing health practices allow new human beings to be taller and live longer in every decade. How far can this upwards curve travel?

Replacement Organs are Here Now

Star Trek® gave us the concepts of spray-on skin and organ regeneration by pill. By the end of 2011, we indeed had the first in operation and the second on the drawing board. Already,we can grow new organs by 1) harvesting a patient's own stem cells and growing them into an organ on the back of a mouse - or, 2) pouring powdered pig bladder/intestine over a matrix that will later dissolve.

Some new organs can be grown and implanted or even grown inside the body itself. We do not yet know the limits of this and what specific organs cannot be regrown, except for the human brain. The new brain would have none of the patient's memories. There is talk in the 2010s of brain transplantation in whole or in part, while USSR experimented with dog-human partial brain transplantation in the early 1940s. France researched digit and limb regeneration beginning about the same time. Medical installations such as Wright State University research spinal cord regeneration post-severing injury with some success.

Can the entire human body be regenerated and retain its former personality?

Aging and the Skin

One theory has it that with pigskin, artificial skin, and human skin grafts, we may live longer, but we may also look like the villains in STNG: Insurrection. These people were patched together monstrosities that needed skin-stretching and trimming regularly. Metal hooks kept the skin stretched over their bodies. Human would die of systemic infection in this form of life.

Fallacy: People write on the Internet that all human cells are replaced every 24 or 48 hours, but this is incorrect, because the cells of a ligament need 20 years on average to reproduce.

In addition, cells of old spotted skin certainly reproduce, but they make additional old spotted skin, because the cells making their own replacements are already damaged through age, radiation, and free radicals, and are increasingly damaged every year of additional life.

My hunch is that the human skin and blood will be at too high a risk for cancers, if and when we adjust genetic material programming to achieve immortality.

We may never be able to attain healthy immortal skin that can guard against infection and cancers. Thus, we may never be able to attain immortality by any means other than available religious faith and practice that not everyone will pursue.

Bicentennial Man
Bicentennial Man
Andrew the Robot became an android and then almost human, set to live forever. When his wife aged, he asked to become human so that he could die as she would. A blood transfusion made that possible. Is it the blood that prevents immortality in 21st-century humans?

Live Forever and Create New Habitats in Space

Mars landscape SW of the Mars Pathfinder landing site, July 1997.
Mars landscape SW of the Mars Pathfinder landing site, July 1997. | Source

© 2011 Patty Inglish MS


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