“Today People Can Only Slow Down Aging,” Elena Milova from Life Extension Advocacy Foundation
Life is the core value. For this reason, people strive to improve and prolong it. Biohackers believe that science and new technologies can help to optimize well-being and improve health.
What influences human longevity? In how many years will people manage to take over the control of aging? What measures can let people increase healthy lifetime today? Elena Milova, the social activist in healthcare, popularizer of science, Board Member of the non-profit Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (LEAF) helped us to get insight into these issues.
How long do people want to live?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the average lifetime grew from 66.5 to 72 years in the period of 2000-2016 globally.
As for Russia, experts of RANEPA calculated that the average lifetime of Russian citizens was 72.8 years in 2019.
In 2018, the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation did a research that showed which lifetime the Russians considered to be “decent and fair”. The survey took place in 38 cities with a population of over 500,000 people. The survey findings reveal that on average people want to live up to 83.4 years. Most respondents hoping for longevity are men aged from 40 to 60 years old, people that have a university degree, well-off Russians.
The wish of the Russian citizens to prolong life is reflected in the governmental policy. In 2018, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin assigned the government to ensure the increase of life expectancy up to 78 years by 2024 and up to 80 years by 2030.
In their turn, biohackers say that they want to live 100 years and more. It is also thought that technologies will arrive allowing to prolong life to 1,000 years in the future.
According to Elena Milova, there are two main activity areas that can significantly influence the duration of a healthy life:
- The efficient system of preventive measures taken against aging-associated diseases;
- Support of the development of therapies that address the fundamental mechanisms of aging and can prevent, postpone, and roll back age changes in the body.
Prevention of aging-associated diseases
The expert notes that the first area substantially depends on the behavior of the person in young and median age. According to data of the National Research Institute of Public Health named after N.A. Semashko, human health is determined by lifestyle by 50%, whereas the influence of genetics accounts for 20%, environment – also around 20% and the impact of the healthcare system on health accounts for only 10%.
“Influencing the lifestyle of people is possible only by making them sure that it is truly important and depends on their efforts. It can be achieved through large-scale information campaigns and development of conditions as part of the healthcare system that would support responsible behavior of people, healthy lifestyle, the habit of undergoing medical checkups in a timely manner and adhering to recommendations of doctors. Unfortunately,paternalism dominates in our current system meaning that the physician bears most of the responsibility for the patient’s health, and the patient expects that the physician will cure him or her and thinks that no personal efforts are required to maintain health,” Elena says.
However, there are certain positive changes in this field. For example, health centers are set up, people get more opportunities to take care of their health aimed at disease prevention. “However, there is a long way to go until we arrive at the systematic approach, in my opinion. It means that I do not expect any radical changes in the relation of longevity,” the expert highlights.
Extensive measures are required to make people take on a more serious approach to their health. The expert says that thanks to the act banning to smoke tobacco in public places, which was adopted in 2013, the number of smokers reduced by 1.5 times in Russia, and the level of passive smoking – by 2.5 times.
Development of remedy against aging
“The development of therapies for efficient prevention and rollback of age-related changes does not impress me today,” Elena notes.
According to her, today many Russian gerontologists do researches in the field of control over aging. However, they do it abroad, where their projects are supported financially. Therefore, if they roll their developments into the market, it will happen in other countries, and the “remedy against aging” will be probably imported to Russia later.
“Russia has set quite adequate governmental targets for scientific research in the field of aging and healthy longevity, but the practical realization of these tasks is halted, especially at the stage of financing in support of fundamental and application investigation. Some of the large growth points of the Russian gerontology such as Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Institute of Biology of Komi Science Centre of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Moscow State University would make a significant progress if the financing of research of the biology of aging was increased,” the expert notes.
How to slow down aging?
“Healthy old years is an oxymoron. Aging is the process of gradual health deterioration due to the buildup of various damage in cells and tissues. The older the person is, the less healthy he or she is by definition, even if chronic diseases are developing slowly,” Elena says.
The WHO has recently introduced the term “healthy aging”. It does not imply robust health. Healthy aging is the process of the development and maintenance of functional capacity that ensures well-being in old age.
“Functional capacity is defined by the combination of individual viability (which is nearly equal to the current health state) and conditions of the supportive environment. For example, a person can be in a wheelchair due to the age-associated osteoarthrosis or lower limb ischemia, but the supportive environment (for example, accessible transport, ramps, and state support system for disabled) allows the person to do what is important for him or her. This is healthy aging,” the expert explains.
According to Elena, today people can only slow down aging. The most efficient measures for the prolongation of a healthy life are:
- healthy lifestyle;
- regular diagnostics;
- careful fulfillment of all recommendations of the consulting physician in regards to both prevention (for example, elimination of vitamin and mineral deficiency) and treatment of detected illnesses.
“People thinking about radical prolongation of healthy life and adolescence should actively join projects intended for the development of anti-aging therapies in order to obtain information about promising developments firsthand and as soon as possible. What’s more important, all supporters of the healthy longevity movement personally speed up the arrival of “medicine against aging” for everybody – themselves and their relatives,” Elena notes.
The expert specifies that the most efficient measures for the prolongation of a healthy life are still not available to humanity. They are either being clinically tested or undergo an even earlier development stage being tested on cells or animals.
“Several years ago, I initiated the Rejuvenation Roadmap project at Life Extension Advocacy Foundation, where we track the development of different anti-aging therapies. We consider all the projects mentioned in our roadmap (it is constantly updated and supplemented) to be promising. If at least these therapies show results in humans, enter the market, and are massively adopted in the combination with other achievements of the medicine, we will be able to talk about not only one hundred years as a typical lifetime but also the exceedance of the known lifetime maximum of 122 years,” Elena says.
At the same time, she highlights that huge efforts are required for the development and implementation of these innovations and especially for the quick transfer of these technologies to Russia. “Therefore, I believe that the main factor of life prolongation is the intensification of the public inquiry for “medicine against aging”. In the case of the large-scale public support and target-specific financing, the comprehensive control over aging may be achieved in 10-15 years,” the expert says.
Elena will take part in Biohacking Conference Moscow held on September 19.
She will give a presentation titled “How long do you want to live? Biohacker’s motivation”.