Meet the doctor who is convinced he will live to 150
“Medical advancements mean that life expectancy is now far greater than we believe, an ageing expert has claimed”
By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor 3:47PM BST 25 Apr 2015
An anti-ageing expert is convinced he will live until he is 150 and claims healthy Brits will live far longer than they expect.
Dr Alex Zhavoronkov, director of the UK-based Biogerontology Research Foundation think-tank, argues that medical advancements and the widespread use of antibiotics mean that life expectancy is now much greater than we believe.
Austrian researchers have declared that old age now does not begin until 74 because of advances in health and medicine
He takes 100 different drugs and supplements each day, exercises regularly, goes for frequent check ups and monitors his own blood biochemistry and cell counts. He also vaccinates as soon as vaccines become available and claims to have ‘suppressed cravings’ for marriage, children and material assets to concentrate on anti-ageing research.
His comments come just weeks after Austrian researchers declared that old age now does not begin until 74 because of advances in health and medicine.
Dr Alex Zhavoronkov, 37, said: “I think that even people past their 70s, who are in good health, have a fighting chance to live past 150.
“All of the supercentenarians alive today lived through tough times, when no antibiotics were available and our understanding of human biology was not that far from the stone age.
“Longevity of these people is attributed mostly to luck and stress resistance attributed to multiple factors including genetics.
The bristlecone pines in White Mountain, California, are the oldest trees in the world – some have reached 5000 years
“But people alive today will soon see the fruits of biomedical research come to market and gradually reduce mortality from many diseases and extend healthy longevity.
“I think that in two-three years we will have effective pharmacological solutions based on already approved drugs that will help people remain younger and healthier until other advances in regenerative medicine and gene therapy become available to further extend their longevity.”
Dr Zhavoronkov believes the biggest ageing culprits are not biological, but economic, social and behavioural and that much of the battle still lies in people’s heads.
“The toughest level of ageing to address is psychological aging,” he added.
“People are evolved to accept their certain decline and demise and human behavior and attitude to life changes throughout life and events like child birth or retirement trigger many processes that are very difficult to reverse.
“People form their longevity expectations primarily using their family history and country averages and are not prepared to change their expectations quickly.”
A baby girl born today is now expected to life to an average age of 82.8 years and a boy to 78.8 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.
But many health experts believe that if people embraced all the known anti-ageing interventions that are now documented, most could live far longer.
Simple lifestyle changes such as walking regularly, cutting down on sugar, salt and fat, and taking advantage of drugs that already exist, like statins, could all extend life.
Exercise can stave off the effects of old age
However trying to persuade people to do what is good for them has proved tricky, as Cardiff University found.
In 1979, 2,500 men were asked to follow five simple rules – eat well, work out, drink less, keep their weight down and never smoke.
Four decades on, just 25 pensioners managed to stick to the plan. But they are all far fitter and healthier than those who gave up.
• Secret of healthy ageing discovered in ground-breaking 35-year study
Dr Peter Ellwood, who carried out the study said: “We found that we could make read reductions in areas like cancer and dementia. People weren’t just living longer, they were healthier.
“Living a healthy lifestyle is better than any pill and have proved that it is possible to fit and active after the age of 65.”
Dr Zhavoronkov believes that rapid advances in medicines and technology will make it possible to extend human lives well beyond what was evolutionary necessary; to survive long enough to reproduce.
“Even if you look at the previous century, life expectancies in developed countries doubled even without major technological interventions,” he said.
“So unless our civilization suffers a major blow from one of the catastrophic events like a global economic crisis, rise of militant religions or bioterrorism, many people alive today will be living extraordinarily long lives and take an active role in further human evolution.”
Dr Zhavoronkov is also a professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and heads the laboratory of regenerative medicine at the Federal Clinical Research Centre for Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology in Moscow.
He is the co-founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine, a biotech company dedicated to drug discovery for cancer and aging located at Johns Hopkins University.
Dr Zhavoronkov Top 10 tips for living to 150
“Thousands of years of human history show that neither diet, exercise or herbs will significantly extend human lifespan. But here are a few rules that I set for myself to stay young until life extension technologies mature and reach the clinic: