Research Services is a component of our "life-extension approach"
As discussed elsewhere, our main effort involves what
we call the Life-Extension & Control of Ageing Program. This program
is a comprehensive approach to long-range health and disease prevention,
one which also involves a research strategy in the control of biological
ageing. (The reasons for the control of ageing is simple - without that,
only marginal gains can ever be made in terms of disease prevention, disease
cure, and life-extension; and that is discussed in other sectors of the
site.) We are not involved directly in the practice of medicine; however,
if one of our participants does get a significant medical problem, then
we go into the main bio-medical databases, retrieve information on the
state-of-the-art treatment and current research, and organize it into a
report so that patients, facilitators, and health professionals can use
it in planning the treatment strategy for the particular individual. This
is what we call Medical Research Services, and we provide that here, as
a separate service. We have done thousands of these reports on all types
of medical problems at all stages. The information is always well received
and enhances the qualify of care - sometimes dramatically. (For an example
of one case, see the Bernie letter.)
A medical research report is an integral component of
what we call the "life-extension approach to medicine"; and it
may be of interest to explain that approach here.
"Medicine" is about the treatment of disease;
and that is different than "health", which is the maintenance
of biological vitality. The two ideas, "medicine" and "health"
have become confused in modern language by the medical profession expropriating
the idea of health - e.g., "health maintenance organizations"
(which really are hospitals and medical practices) and a "national
health policy" (which really is plan for medical insurance coverage).
Obviously, there is some convergence between the two disciplines; but it
is important to keep a clear distinction. Health is a condition of optimal
biological vitality. When biological vitality becomes significantly impaired,
then it becomes a medical problem and subject to specific treatment in
an effort to cure or, at least, manage the pathology so that malfunction
is avoided. There are various therapeutic disciplines in medicine.
"Allopathic" medicine means the treatment
of disease with techniques that are "other" (allos) than
the disease (pathos) itself. This commonly includes: surgery, chemo-
or drug therapy, and radiation. All of these are commonly understood to
be in the realm of conventional medical therapies; but, although, their
application consumes most of the medical budget, their contribution to
increased life-expectancy and quality of life is, actually, not that great,
as will be explained below.
"Homeopathic" medicine means the treatment
of disease with techniques that are the "same" (homeo)
as the disease (pathos) itself. The term "homeopathy"
is most commonly associated with nostrums that are sold for their placebo
effect; but, as demonstrated by immunization, it can be a legitimate medicine
approach. Immunization is the procedure of exposing a person to small,
innocuous quantities of the disease organism so that immunity is evoked
and, thus, disease prevented. That is a type of homeopathy; and it is still
the single most effective treatment in terms of preventing disease, preserving
health, and extending the length and quality of life. It is very inexpensive
and usually conducted by public health officials.
"Naturopathic" medicine uses methods of diet,
massage, relaxation, physical therapy, and other natural activities in
the treatment of disease. This encompasses a wide-range of techniques and
can be used for many medical conditions; and in some ways, it is the interstitial
fabric of all medicine because most healing involves natural recovery.
In this vein, other schools might be included, such as: ayurvedic,
There are numerous, other systems of therapy including,
but not limited to: Osteopathic Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, Complementary,
"Rational" therapy is the most recent phase
in the evolution of medicine. As the science of basic biology progresses,
the actual molecular mechanisms of disease is becoming understood, which
allows for the design of therapies which intervene directly.
Finally, a distinction can be made between "conventional"
medicine and "alternative" medicine. Essentially, "conventional"
means whatever is commonly practiced within a community and reimbursed
by an insurance carrier; and "alternative" means anything other
than conventional. Usually, allopathic medicine is considered conventional
and homeopathic, naturopathic, folk, and other forms of medicine are considered
In the U.S., annually, over $1.2 trillion is spent on
conventional medicine and about $100 billion is spent on alternatives,
which amount to almost 18% of the gross domestic product. The fact of the
matter is, however, that neither conventional nor alternative modalities,
aggregately or independently, do much in terms of increasing the length
or quality of the life-span. This assertion that medicine does little for
life-extension will seem preposterous to all except health statisticians
who actually look at the demographics; but one startling fact will easily
communicate the point. Consider that one-hundred years ago (1990), if you
had lived to age 65, then your life-expectancy would have been 11 years.
In 1900, although there were doctors, they had no effective treatments
for any disease. In other words, in 1900, without any effective medicine
at all, you would have had, on the average, 11 years of additional life-expectancy.
Surprisingly, it was not until about 1950, with the introduction of antibiotics,
that clinical medicine began to have an impact on the average life-expectancy
of the general population. Now, in comparison, in 2001, if you are age
65, then your life-expectancy is 15 years - only 4 additional years more
than in 1900. And of that 4, only 1 can be attributed to clinical medicine
with the other 3 coming from public health, hygiene, and standard of living.
With all of these highly paid and well educated professionals and with
such massively elaborate technology and at a cost of over $800 billion
per year, which would be the portion that is spent on individuals over
65, then, for 1 statistical year of additional life-expectancy, one could
say that all of those resources go for essentially no benefit. The notion
that the quality if living is increase by medicine, even though the length
may not be, is nonsense. Also, the rebuttal that medicine does some good
in individual cases, although true, is countered by that fact that it is
equally true that medical treatments, particularly in the older population,
cause a great deal of damage and premature death. Suffice it to say that
the existing medical paradigms, be they conventional or alternative, allopathic,
homeopathic, naturopathic, folk, spiritualistic, etc. are inadequate; and
a new approach needs to be invented. We propose that life-extension science
offers such a new approach.
In life-extension science, we are interested generally
in those practices which have been scientifically demonstrated to help
maintenance and to improve and extend the healthy life-span - what has
come to be called the "health-span". And the "life-extension
approach" to medicine is an extension of that basic concept. Life-extension
is not involved in geriatric care nor simply extending survival at any
cost, regardless of quality, suffering, expense, and dignity, as frequently
happens in conventional as well as alternative medicine. Indeed, if what
is currently available from conventional medicine offers no reasonable
prospect of making a significant contribution to extending one's health-span,
then the attitude in life-extension science would be to not undergo convention
therapy, contribute to scientific progress by participating in a meaningful
research project, and be prepared to accept a dignified death. That, of
course, is each individual's personal choice.
Briefly, if you were to take a life-extension approach
to treating a particular disease, then here are the main steps which you
First, a proper diagnosis of the etiology or cause of the disease needs
to be made. This includes staging, cell classifications (if applicable),
trend, and rate of progression. "Second opinions" or multiple
diagnostic evaluations are usually warranted for confirmation. Improper
diagnosis does occur and, in the U.S., annually, wrong treatment (much
of it based on wrong diagnosis) accounts for almost 100,000 deaths and
an untold amount damage - making medicine more dangerous than driving one's
car, which accounts for about 45,000 deaths per year.
Therapy. Most medical situations are not emergencies. When a disease
is first discovered, there can be panic reactions in everyone, including
physicians. However, almost always, the disease has been there for some
time and frequently is not progressing rapidly or at all. Sometimes, at
the time of diagnosis, the disease is actually in recovery by the body's
natural restoration mechanisms. If allopathic therapy is initiated prematurely,
the disease can be accelerated. Thus, it is frequently best to employ first
what is called "observational medicine" or "watchful waiting".
This simply means tracking closely its progression and using aggressive
treatments when it is certain that the condition is deteriorating.
Practices Regimen. Obviously, building a healthy life-style is advisable
at any time; but frequently, a person does not become sensitized to the
need until after a medical problem occurs. Optimizing one's physical condition
with diet, exercise, detoxification, and psychological training is important
in support of medical therapy; and during the observational phase, above,
employing a health regimen might demonstrate that the disease process can
be mitigated by natural means. One important and frequently unrecognized
component, during the initial phase of dealing with a medical problem,
is psychological counseling (including religious, if suitable). The process
of stepping back and reflecting will help clarify one's goals, relieve
anxiety, and facilitate the transition through the usual sequence of denial,
anger, bargaining, and acceptance. Psychological counseling can help prevent
the frantic search for cures that make the patient and family vulnerable
to victimization by some medical professionals.
Medicine. In the selection of the most appropriate medical treatment,
we emphasize what is called "evidence-based medicine'. This simply
means that it makes sense to employ those modalities for which there is
scientific evidence that they cause benefit. As you can see from the quotation
below, most conventional therapies (even though paid for by insurance and
done by the established medical community) are not validated by scientific
evidence, even though they are highly technical and employ elaborate scientific
jargon. And there is even less confirmation for alternative therapies.
Discerning scientifically valid treatments is one of the main objectives
of our Base Report.
"Of the thousands of medical therapies available
today, few have been evaluated in a way that clearly identifies whether
the intervention is beneficial or harmful to the patient". (Evidence-Based
Family Medicine; by Walter W Rosser, M.D. and M. Sharon Shafir, M.D. (Department
of Family & Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario,
Canada); page 45; B.C. Decker, Inc. 1998.)
Trials and Research. Given that a patient has been properly diagnosed
and staged and is receiving state-of-the-art medical treatment (which may
be just observational therapy, as above) and given that one institutes
a life-style that builds health and physical condition, then one needs
also to evaluate the Experimental Trials which are currently available
and to stay in touch with on-going progress in research. Medicine is evolving
rapidly, small improvements in therapy are happening all the time and can
have big effects in lowering adverse effects and extending survival, and
with biological science moving toward an understanding of regeneration
at a fundamental level, a radically new medical paradigm and technology
is emerging. Although there may not be a cure in practice today, it may
have already been invented at some research clinic or lab.
Base Report. In confirming the diagnosis and in planning therapy
as well as reviewing research options, the first things which we do, as
a matter of routine, is to go into the research databases and retrieve
the current information on the particular problem. We then organize the
information into a report that can be used by the various people who are
involved. In this way, one can review the "state-of-the-art"
treatment procedures and the experimental research that is being conducted
throughout the world and, thus, be in a better position to plan or revise
the treatment strategy. Specifically, in the case of cancer, we use two
sources of information: a specialized database called "Physician Data
Query" for state-of-the-art diagnostic, treatment, and experimental
protocols and the "MEDLINE" database for research reports. Between
these two databases, the patient together with the treating physician(s),
relatives, the psychologist, religious counselor, etc. have the most authoritative
and the most current, scientific information that is available on the particular
medical problem. Subsequent to the Base Report, further research can be
done in specific areas that are directly pertinent to the case, and we
can help implement a treatment strategy. The aim, of course, is to gather
the relevant information and use it in helping to derive the best possible,
most appropriate therapeutic strategy for the particular person.