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Aging is something that we all fear, because the older we get, the more we believe we are out of our prime years. It is typical for people nowadays to think about retiring early and with a substantial amount of funds to support themselves so they no longer have to work. This is mainly because we are aware of having low stamina, energy, and motivation when we are older compared to the amount that we have of all of these when we’re younger. We also tend to assume we will be suffering, sick, or just plain unhealthy when we reach our older years, but trying to prevent aging so soon through any of the three methods- stem cell research, killing off senescent cells, or injecting NAD+ directly into our bodies- could help us be more hopeful about our later years.

It is safe to assume that slowing aging down is something most of the population would want, and I am one of those people. For starters, it is a common misconception that people who are in their late-20s and above can’t go to college because they won’t be able to withstand the rigor of classwork like they did as children and young adults. There is so much stigma about this in the United States that should continue to lower as it has been in this past decade or so. Expanding the health span of a person would give them more motivation to continue getting an education, should they choose to do so. In addition, it is safe to say that the stigma I mentioned before would lessen drastically because of the abilities people in the “older ages” would have.

Second, people would be less prone to early burnout from tough careers. Take auditing, for example. Some studies have shown that auditors are more prone to depression and suicidal thoughts due to the pressure of working long hours. They also require a substantial amount of education, which they must continue until they retire due to their Certified Public Accounting (CPA) licensing. The expansion of the health span could slow the damage of such pressuring and demanding careers, ones that are high in demand and cannot be automated in the near future.

Finally, the expansion of health span would give people the chance to experience more out of life and spend more quality time with the ones they love. Spending five hours in the park with your children is completely different than having them visit you for an hour so they can take care of you when you’re sick. Being healthy for a longer time than typical would give you more of a reason to, for example, rock climb in your fifties instead of having to do so in your twenties. The time constraint of finishing everything “early in life” would diminish.

While the expansion of the health span of the population would be a fantastic idea, it is important that research be completed first. Since it has just begun, full research and dependable data may not be available until the lifetime of the human subjects has been over for a while. However, it can help future generations to live longer than those before them. And don’t we want the best for future generations? If so, research to expand our health span, and life span as a whole, should be funded.

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Longevity never appealed to me after I gave it some thought. Why would people want to extend their life way past 60 years, when the vigor is not there anymore? Common counterpoints to this include familial concern such seeing your offspring grow and being with loved ones, and curiosity in what humanity can do in the future. But if the topic is on my personal definition of living life, which is actually experiencing events and making memories physically, maybe the argument for longevity does not quite hold. To expand on this, as a young twenty year old, I experienced a stress-induced burnout after my first corporate career. My idea of the real world was reduced to work, earn, and spend. Having since transferred to a less stressful environment, I find myself pondering if this cycle is my life for the next fifty or so years left.

Health span versus life span dawned on me as a real and exciting concept given the exponential progress of science. I would not have imagined that the same literature can be proposed a couple decades ago. Health span is defined as the period of time that someone is healthy and, therefore, is in everyone's best interest to optimize and extend. If the product of scientific, anti-aging solutions can result in someone in his 70's still capable of playing sports, travelling long trips, and doing strenuous work, I believe that supporting this research is the way to go.

Of course, ethics play a major difference in how scientific research should be assessed. Testing on mice is very far and below actual human testing. From the processes described in mice testing, utilizing senescent cells include destroying cells by injecting protein and the stem cell solution requires healthy stem cells from embryos for transfer. These can be classified as invasive procedures and are risky. Potential subjects are likely to undergo never-before-seen behavior after testing commences. If the positive reactions observed from the mice are replicated to humans, will this come at no cost or will there be difficulties down the road.

In this day and age, I am a firm believer that well-informed consent and the safe consequences matter most when making major decisions. Suppose that an unhealthy person is willing to undergo the testing of these health span solutions, his consent is all that matters for his side, as long as he is fully briefed on the matter. However, if part of the solution includes compromising another individuals well-being, it is a different discussion entirely. If, and only if, a healthy donor is educated and consenting to the process will I support the testing procedure on humans. A utilitarian approach of endangering subjects who are otherwise healthy is a moral dilemma I would not compromise on. This is where the definition of life, similar to abortion debates, are brought up again. Will getting healthy stem cells from an embryo endanger the latter? Is the latter even considered alive? These are questions entirely on the gray spectrum and are likely to be unanswered in the foreseen future, given the climate of issues that surround the topic. For sure, these are the ethical problems with conducting scientific health span research.

All in all, I agree that longevity research that focuses more on the productive years in life should continue and be funded well. The challenge I have lain out has to do more with the implementation stage after moving from animal test subjects. If a common ground exists that solves the issue of ethics, and if science has advanced enough to do human testing in a safe environment that considers the well-being of all parties involved., push forward by all means.

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