weekly blog--one for the ages
Since the 1990s, metformin has been the first-line drug of choice for prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes in the United States. Several years ago researchers demonstrated that metformin might also have more widespread use as an anti-aging drug which could extend human life-and-health-span well into the 120s. This begs the question: how long should one live before letting the next generation take over?
Consider author Jonathan Swift’s take on the subject from his satire on human nature, Gulliver’s Travels, which was first published in 1726. During one of Gulliver's adventures, he encounters a group of immortals called the Struldbrugs. His first reaction is one of envy because it would empower a person to gain immense wealth, wisdom, and philosophical serenity. Gulliver fantasizes what he might do if he was one of the Struldbrugs. However, when an interpreter explains the reality of life, Gulliver's enthusiasm quickly fades.
The Struldbrugs are identified by a red dot above their left eyebrow. They are considered normal human beings until they reach the age of thirty, at which time they become rejected. At age 80, they become legally dead, and suffer from many ailments including the loss of eyesight and the loss of hair. Also, their heirs immediately succeed to their estates; only a small amount of money is reserved for their support; and the poorer ones are maintained at the public expense. After that, they cannot earn a living, they cannot purchase or lease lands, or be witnesses in civil and criminal legal cases.
So, how long would you want to live if you were assured of good health and wealth? What government measures would you put in place to ensure a smooth transition from one generation to the next?