CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Experts muse anti-aging science

If the human body were deliberately designed rather than produced by evolution, its natural perfection would be maintained and its flaws reduced, according to experts.

Technological fountain of youth?

In a provocative essay, scientific experts have been asked to muse on what they would do if they could deliberately design the human body. The consensus is that changing anatomy alone would not be enough, as we would need accompanying psychological changes, and technology to sustain the "vigor" as well as capabilities of youth.

Technologies are emerging that extend survival by delaying death from chronic fatal diseases. Pushing this envelope may briefly quench our insatiable thirst for extended life and temporarily quell our fear of death, but continuing to do so may turn out to be harmful unless it soon becomes possible to scientifically engineer an extension of the vigor of youth in both body and mind. In this article we go beyond usual scientific reasoning and imagine how the human body might have been designed differently if biology were goal-oriented. Meddling with such features is an inherently tricky business, but imaginative and innovative approaches to tackling the problems of an aging body is certainly worth encouraging.

Anti-aging has been considered within the domain of CAM, as an emerging field that has not quite yet captured medical consensus, and sometimes can trigger investigation by state medical boards concerned with maintaining standard of care. Dietary supplements are also a big part of anti-aging medicine. But this article explores views by the scientific mainstream on anti-aging.

The proposed fixes are very specific to endemic problems. But there are also tradeoffs to maintaining longevity:

Beyond the ethical implications of creating such long-living beings with no reasonable exit strategy, we would be deleting a rich and fundamental source of biological diversity. Mistakes in the synthetic and repair machineries of the cell have created us as we are today. Turning off the power of this engine for evolutionary change would put us at a great disadvantage in adapting to new challenges and environments and leave us at a biological dead end.

In some ways, maybe Mother Nature has the last word after all.

Then again, some argue she has designed us to be intelligent in such a way as to develop sophisticated tools to begin to co-create by redesigning ourselves. Here is where science leaves off, and philosophy begins.
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Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploration of legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, following Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has also been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing), adding to Bar membership in four U.S. states.
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