Should We Live Forever?

by Christopher White, CBC Director of Research and Education on June 22, 2015

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Later this week the FDA will meet with researchers to evaluate plans for a possible clinical trial that would use the drug metformin in hopes of delaying the onset of major diseases such as various cancers or heart disease. The drug is already used to treat type 2 diabetes, though researchers are optimistic that the drug will aid in aging to prevent or delay sickness.

“What we’re trying to do is increase health span, not look for eternal life,” Stephanie Lederman, executive director of the American Federation for Aging Research told the scientific journal Nature.

We at the CBC applaud such efforts: recognition of the good of medicine in achieving health and a recognition that life is valuable. Yet, a healthy sense of mortality and knowing that there are limits, as well.

That’s one of the many reasons our Paul Ramsey Fellows study Dr. Gilbert Meilaender’s book Should We Live Forever?, which wrestles with the tensions of our desire often prolong life without limits. As Meilaender concludes in the book, the goal is not living forever but to have a complete life—one that has a shape, form, or trajectory.

In an age where technology aims to triumph over all realms of life and poses serious threats to what it means to be human, these are serious questions worth reflecting on—and often worth exercising restraint. We’re glad to see in this case that these researchers are in similar agreement.

Image by Dvortygirl via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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