Do we all REALLY want to live forever? Over my dead body!

Reversing the ageing process, eliminating terminal diseases and replacing damaged organs with manufactured ones could keep us going forever, so says Trevor Laffan
Do we all REALLY want to live forever? Over my dead body!

Reversing the ageing process and eliminating terminal diseases could keep us going forever, says Trevor Laffan. Do you want that?

MY mother-in-law, Moyra Swords, celebrated her 100th birthday at a function in Cobh in 2019. Her party was held in a local hotel, and she was one of the last to leave in the early hours of the morning.

She was very fortunate to have enjoyed amazing health right up to the time she died in her 101st year. Not everyone is as lucky, but that could be about to change.

Advancements in medicine, science and engineering have us all living longer. Early detection and successful cures for the various illnesses are vital for our survival. The medical profession no longer rely upon human and animal excrement as a cure-all remedy for diseases and injuries.

No longer is donkey, dog, gazelle and fly dung celebrated for its healing properties and ability to ward off bad spirits.

I’m not sure how they considered it to be good for us in the first place, but I would want to be seriously ill before I’d let anyone smear me with poo, regardless of where it came from.

Insects are in the news again though in relation to medical matters. I read recently that scientists have discovered ants may be able to detect cancer in urine at an early stage in patients. Apparently, some cancers alter the smell of piddle and ants can pick up on it.

According to the experts, ants are fast learners and easy to train and could be used to determine whether you have a tumour or not.

So far, experiments have shown that ants were able to tell the difference between mice who had cancer and those who didn’t by smelling their urine. We’ll see how that works out.

Hordes of scientists around the world are constantly searching for cures for our ailments and it’s only a matter of time before they find a remedy for cancer.

Professor Luke O’Neill, the man we all came to know during the pandemic, speculates that there will be a treatment for many of the diseases that we’re afflicted with as we get older, like arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and heart problems.

He reckons they might be close to discovering something else too. Dr Luke said scientists working in Harvard Medical School have discovered what they claim is effectively an ageing clock that can speed up or reverse the ageing process in mice. This discovery is causing a lot of excitement in the research community.

They have also reversed ageing in human cells grown in the lab, so that suggests what they achieved in mice might also be possible in humans.

So, it would seem it’s no longer a question of if rejuvenation is possible, but more a question of when.

Dr Luke poses an interesting question though. If it was possible to take 20 years off your age and make your skin look 20 years younger, while at the same time returning your muscle strength to what it was 20 years ago, would you opt for it? If your vision and hearing could also be restored to what it was decades earlier, would you be tempted to take a chance?

I’m not sure I would. It seems to me like tempting fate.

It’s a bit like ‘clocking’ the odometer in a car. Not so long ago it was common practice for unscrupulous car sellers to turn back a car’s mileage. Knocking a few thousand miles off the clock made the car more desirable because it gave the impression there was less wear and tear on the engine, which would give the new owner extra years of trouble-free motoring.

I’m not sure if it still goes on with the modern cars, but it is an offence under consumer protection law for a trader to give false, misleading or deceptive information about the history of a car, and there’s good reasons for that.

Buying a clocked car could turn out to be expensive as well as dangerous. If you don’t know what the proper mileage is, then you can’t judge the real condition of the car, and parts that you think should be in good working order might be at the point where they are about to fail.

So, basically, if you purchase a car with the mileage reversed, you don’t know what you’re buying. You could be letting yourself in for a ton of trouble, so it makes sense not to do it.

That seems similar to reversing the ageing process.

Trying to cheat the body into believing it’s younger than it actually is doesn’t sound very inviting to me.

There’s something else to consider too. I came across an article in The Times UK about scientists who are trying to build new appendages for the body, from extra thumbs to third arms and even tentacles that can be attached to and controlled by humans.

Researchers have already developed an extra thumb that can be fitted to a hand and controlled wirelessly by your toes via pressure sensors, allowing its wearer to unscrew a bottle, thread a needle, or peel a banana.

They believe the future of prosthetics could lie not only in creating replacements for lost or injured limbs, but also in creating augmentations to help humans perform tasks more easily.

Scientists have already created neuro-prosthetic hands which can be linked to the body’s nerves, allowing the wearer to control the movements of the fingers and grasp objects using only their thoughts.

Most of the extra appendages under development are controlled by the feet or via breathing.

So where are we headed?

Well, there was a time when our average life expectancy was three score and ten, but we’ve seen how that has changed already.

Reversing the ageing process, eliminating terminal diseases and replacing damaged organs with manufactured ones could keep us going forever.

Not sure I like that idea.

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