LONGEVITY AND WEALTH
By Karl Arnold Belser
30 August 2014



The article The Longevity Gap from Aeon points out that there is currently about a 12.5 year difference in average age between the poorest and the wealthiest in the United States. Women, however, do live longer than men and are less sensitive to wealth differences. The article suggests that new and expensive longevity drugs will make the difference worse,

Longevity is not a disease. Hence, the average person can not count on the government or their health care provider to pay for longevity drugs. The implication is that those with money, possibly lots of money, might be able to significantly  extend their lives. This longevity gap may be the source of civil unrest in the uncertain future


What actually is known and what is hype?

The articles Next Generation Longevity Drug ...  and New Longevity Drugs Poised ,,, from WIred  give a good summary about longevity drugs as of 2014. There have been experiments on one-celled animals and mice that show that life extension is possible. There have been no human trials to my knowledge. I think it is clear that drugs that will lengthen life span might happen at some point in the near future.

What about 
The French Paradox?

The French Paradox is that French people who eat a fatty diet and drink a lot of red wine seem to have a lower than average  incidence of heart disease. Heart disease is a significant limitation to longevity today. This suggests that there may be a clue about longevity hidden here.

There are two possible correlations: 1) Red wine is good for the heart and 2) a fatty diet really doesn't cause heart disease.

According th the Wired articles the first correlation suggests that resveratrol, which red wines and peanuts contain, might help mitigate heart disease. There are energy conversion cells called
mitochondria within every cell. resveratrol apparently rejuvenates the mitochondria, which in turn rejuvenates the cells in a living body. However, wine and peanuts don't contain enough resveratrol to make a difference. Hence, the French Paradox is not explained.  

The second correlation might mean that the whole story about high fat diets leading to heart disease is incorrect. The article Heart surgeon declares on what really causes heart disease and my post Obesity and Public Policy show that it is sugars not fats that are the current health issue. These data suggest that it is the French diet,not wine, that results in lower heart disease.

There may be other longevity drugs (see this recent article) but I consider them speculative and unproven by clinical trial.

I conclude that there is no immediate remedy for aging other than prudent measures to maintain good health by lowering sugar intake and weight control.

It seems to me that anyone, independent of their wealth, should be able to increase longevity. It might be simply a matter of self-discipline.

The question remains as to why  one group of people should both be healthy and have wealth. Is there a hidden common denominator, like intelligence, between people with wealth and people with longevity? If so, are intelligence and self-discipline correlated?
   
Last updated August 30, 2014
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