IEET > Interns > HealthLongevity > Anne Corwin
Longevity Medicine Is Just More Basic Health Care
Anne Corwin   Oct 28, 2007   Existence is Wonderful  

We already have longevity medicine - it is any medical therapy that keeps us alive and healthy.

Stathis Papaioannou, a contributor on one of the myriad email lists I’m subscribed to, offered the following common-sense comment recently:

Treatment of hypertension, for example, is treatment to slow down the aging of your cardiovascular system, so you can live longer and stay physiologically younger*. You don’t hear anyone saying that treating hypertension is wrong, because we should just let people develop cardiac failure or have a stroke naturally.

I like this comment because it tidily makes what ought to be a fairly obvious point: which is that we already have longevity medicine to some extent.  If a person has hypertension and manages to get it properly treated, it is quite likely that he or she will remain in better health longer than otherwise, because his or her body will not be experiencing as much in the way of accumulated damage.

If testing for (and treating) treating hypertension is basic health care for people in middle-age and beyond, there should be nothing too difficult about imagining eventually testing for (and treating) issues pertaining to cancer vulnerability, critical cell loss and atrophy, mitochondrial mutation, etc. 

While the ongoing quest to achieve better health care for all persons is, and will ever remain, broadly applied and global in scope, it is well worth acknowledging that people get old everywhere in the world.  This makes the drive to develop effective basic health care for older people of universal importance.  Hypertension, cancer, atherosclerosis, etc., do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, national origin, or economic status.  And if we’re going to consider hypertension treatment part of basic health care, why not other forms of maintenance care?

* One minor semantic quibble: Eventually I would like to see the words “older” and “younger” used only in the context of describing a chronological state.  Older bodies are still going to be older bodies, regardless of how healthy they are.  Just as the health care needs of thirtysomethings differ from the health care needs of young children, the health care needs of ninetysomethings and centenarians differ from those of younger folks. 

In some respects (and I realize I might be over-analyzing things here…it has happened before!) saying that we want to “keep older bodies young” may stand to alienate the aged from the idea of robust good health—that is, we must be wary of making “healthy” synonymous with “young”.  Older people deserve good health, and good basic health care (that is, health care that actually stands a chance of keeping them alive) as younger people do.

Anne Corwin was an IEET intern 2006-2007, and is an engineer and technoprogressive activist in California. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Humanity Plus, and is active in the longevity movement through the Methuselah Foundation and in the neurodiversity movement addressing issues along the autism spectrum. Ms. Corwin writes the blog Existence is Wonderful and produces a related podcast.


Seems that the “common sense” philosophy in regards to longevity medicine that many see as just that is more difficult to accept than would be expected.

Could this harken back to the fact that the Western world still largely sees medicine as only treating the sick, and not providing true preventative care? I still am shocked by meeting people who are so highly resistant to see a doctor when they are illl - but to suggest testing and greater maintenance would fall on deaf ears. That seems to be generational however, IMO. Good entry!

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