Observing that: "Recent scientific advances suggest that slowing the aging process (senescence) is now a realistic goal…yet most medical research remains focused on combating individual diseases," Dana Goldman, from the University of Southern California (USC; California, USA), and colleagues submit that research to delay aging and the infirmities of old age would have better population health and economic returns, as compared to advances in individual fatal diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Using the Future Elderly Model - a microsimulation of the future health and spending of older Americans - the researchers compared optimistic "disease specific" scenarios with a hypothetical "delayed aging" scenario in terms of the scenarios' impact on longevity, disability, and major entitlement program costs. The team found that delayed aging could increase life expectancy by an additional 2.2 years, most of which would be spent in good health, with the economic value of delayed aging estimated to be $7.1 trillion over fifty years. The study authors state: "Overall, greater investment in research to delay aging appears to be a highly efficient way to forestall disease, extend healthy life, and improve public health."

References:

  1. Goldman DP, Cutler D, Rowe JW, Michaud PC, Sullivan J, et al. "Substantial Health And Economic Returns From Delayed Aging May Warrant A New Focus For Medical Research." Health Aff (Millwood). 2013 Oct;32(10):1698-1705.

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