A scientist with a Nobel Prize for her research on aging says some people alive today can live to the age of 150. Meanwhile, a man was found in Brazil who has documents that seem to prove he’s 131-years-old and some people alive today are looking at his pictures and story and wondering if it’s worth it.
Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who in 2009 won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her research on telomeres and the genetics of ageing, detailed her ideas on living to 150 in her talk at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos (motto: Run the world and ski too!)
If you look at centenarians, they don’t die of common diseases like cardio-vascular, cancer, or diabetes. They mystify their physicians. It looks like a systems failure.
Telomeres are repetitive nucleotide sequences or caps at each end of a chromosome that protect them and DNA from deterioration or fusing with other chromosomes. Dr. Blackburn found that telomeres shorten as humans age and even faster when the person is under stress. She and her team have tested an enzyme called telomerase on mice and found that it stops cellular aging and prolongs their lifetimes.
Dr. Blackburn says that using telomerase to change molecules in humans will happen soon and allow them to live to at least 150. Will it be worth it? Could we (not the rich folks at Davos but the other 99.99%) afford it?
Civil servants in Brazil attempting to verify that Joao Coelho de Souza was alive and still eligible for his pension were astonished when he produced official documents showing he was born on March 10, 1884 – thus making him a record-breaking 131-years-old. (Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at age 122, holds the official record for the world’s longest living person.) According to his daughter, Joao’s birth certificate (which does not appear to be his original one but a reissue) and his passport have been examined numerous times and accepted as legitimate.
What’s life at 131 like for Joao Coelho de Souza? He has a 62-year-old wife and a 30-year-old daughter (which means he became a father at 101!). He suffered a stroke six years ago and his daughter says he has days when he’s lucid and others when he’s not. He continues to eat three meals of rice, fish and meat per day and a recent medical exam pronounced him … alive!
Is Joao really 131 years old? Dr. Blackburn would probably like to examine his telomeres. Would she ask him if he’d like to live 19 more years to hit 150? How would he answer that question?
How would you?