Antiaging pills and other medications are no longer science fiction, they are very real, and they are poised to change everything we think we know about health and longevity.
One such drug – metformin, is cheap and already available. Metformin is a common medication costing under ten dollars a month, and many doctors and researchers say it could be the key to combating aging. Studies in animals have shown the potential for the drug to extend its lifespan.
The drug might help humans to age slower because it can potentially delay the onset of cancer, cognitive decline, and vision loss in seniors.
Studies show that metformin can delay stem-cell aging, promote autophagy, and prevent telomere shortening — all of which help combat the effects of aging. This remarkable drug also safeguards against processes that lead to disease, such as oxidative stress.
Aside from metformin, many other similar drugs are in the works, and they could be on the market by 2028. Entrepreneurs are showing serious interest in such a possibility. Billionaire Sam Altman put $180 million into biotech startup Retro BioScience last month. He is the latest of many Silicon Valley billionaires to fund research into the emerging science of antiaging.
Recently, Amazon creator Jeff Bezos was reported to have invested $3 billion in the life-extension company Altos Labs. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has also invested in the Methuselah Foundation, which says it is a “non-profit medical charity focused on extending the healthy human lifespan by making 90 the new 50 by 2030.”
It is certainly too soon to tell what significant impact these types of medications will have on society long-term; however, people living healthier longer could have many implications, both positive and negative.
For one thing, every part of our lives will have to be tailored to more older people being around. That includes ensuring accessible transportation, multigenerational housing arrangements, flexible work opportunities, and social institutions that keep older people active.
Some antiaging researchers have imagined a burgeoning centenarian population leading to other major social changes: the marginalization of must-have brands, high-tech gadgets, and fads in favor of cheaper goods and services; a flourishing trade in eating out, leisure, and travel; expanded retirement communities that leave cities empty of older people.
Further, more younger women may have to stay home from work, as they usually shoulder the burden of caring for elderly family members.
As far as the workplace goes, if healthy older people remain in the workforce longer, they could continue to make money, thus relieving pressure on health care and entitlement programs. But on the other hand, if healthy older people don’t want to work and still plan to retire in their 60s, they might collect social security benefits, which would unbalance and drain these benefits for future generations.
Finding ways to prolong life has been one of the age-old quests. With new antiaging drugs a reality, we just might be on the cusp of entering a brave new world in which the social norms will be permanently altered. If that is for good or ill remains to be seen.