The Cost of Living for 120 Years

The idea of being able to identify the most effective medication for a person and their health problem is an exciting prospect that seems just over the horizon. Dr. Altman discussed the database Stanford is building  a database that contains information about how specific genes impact drug effectiveness while Dr. Leach spoke about the feasibility of industrializing the process of genome sequencing. With the number of genomes sequenced increasing every year, it is reasonable to assume that eventually the cost will decrease to a reasonable value, making this preventative medicine approach accessible for a majority of the population. Already the price has decrease from $2.3 billion to $100,000.

The skepticism in me was left with an eerie feeling after Dr. Leach asked his viewers if they would want to live to be 120 years old. I could not help but think of the environmental impact that would have on this planet’s resources. What is the cost of humans living to be 120 years old? Can we even begin to predict the true cost of this endeavor, financially, environmentally, emotionally, etc.? Is there any way to account for the “pendulum-effect” (the theory holding that trends in culture, politics, etc., tend to swing back and forth between opposite extremes) of huge cultural changes like this one? Some might call it a necessary risk, others might disagree…only time will tell!


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