“Forever young?” Although many circumstances and luck play their parts you can certainly influence your own health, quality of life, and longevity, as we shall see in this course.
Global life expectancy has doubled over the last century and steadily increases in many countries. We will look at the dramatic mitigation of important factors limiting lifespan, focusing on the USA but glancing at similar and lower-income countries. We will not deal with two potential major causes of death: climate change and wars—high-lighted by the distressing Ukraine war and nuclear threats, amply covered elsewhere.
Over time, better agriculture, decreased famines, public health, hygiene, advances in medicine leading to immunizations, antibiotics, cancer, and other treatments have improved lifespan, as can good governance. We will examine these influences and the underlying science, also COVID-19, motor accidents, suicides, guns, opioids, and health delivery—its inequality, cost, and access. Do you favor extremely high-priced treatments for the few versus low-cost measures such as immunizations for the many?
Heredity, the genes received from our parents, plays an important role in longevity; long-lived parents tend to have long-lived children. We will look at genetics and a few genetic diseases, such as cancers caused by BRCA1 and BRCA2 and sickle cell disease, also how gene action can be modified by the lifestyle choices each of us makes.
We will look at the immune system, its role in vaccination and new cancer treatments, also other recent treatments and the science suggesting that lifespan can be greatly increased. How long would you like to live? 100 years, 120 years, or more, to see your greatgrandchildren married –or indefinitely? What would alter your perspective? Your health, your family and friends, the effects on society?
This subject encompasses broad areas of medicine, science, political and social science, so we will focus on principles and important examples.
The classes will be lecture with slides, some videos and breaks for discussion. Homework is optional so prep time could be zero to a couple of hours. Some relevant non-technical reading, and maybe some videos, will be emailed to the class each week. If an item sparks your interest, enjoy!
Please note that this class will begin on September 28 and continue until November 30.