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Is VO2 max the best indicator of life expectancy?

In the contemporary landscape of longevity research, the nexus between scientific discovery and technological innovation is increasingly pivotal.
The real science behind the billionaire pursuit of immortality - Vox

This edition of our newsletter delves into recent scientific advancements and technological applications that are shaping the longevity industry. We explore the potential of these developments to transform not only individual health outcomes but also the broader societal approach to aging and wellness.

Our focus is twofold: firstly, we analyze the implications of research into pharmacological agents such as rapamycin, renowned for its promise in extending lifespan across various species, and its emerging application in human health. Secondly, we assess personal health metrics, specifically VO₂ max, as a measurable indicator of healthspan, and how its accessibility to the general public is being enhanced through technological integration in fitness and wellness programs.

Additionally, we scrutinize the commercialization of longevity through high-cost health programs, exemplified by Equinox’s $40,000 membership plan. This analysis not only highlights the program’s components but also probes the ethical dimensions of such offerings, questioning the balance between profit and health equity in the longevity sector.

This edition aims to provide a comprehensive overview that not only informs but also challenges our readers to consider the multifaceted impacts of longevity research and technology. By examining both the scientific underpinnings and the market dynamics at play, we aim to foster a deeper understanding of how these elements converge to shape the future of health and aging. Through this lens, we invite our readers to critically engage with the material, reflecting on both the immense potential and the complex challenges that define the current and future states of longevity science.

The real science behind the billionaire pursuit of immortality

In “The real science behind the billionaire pursuit of immortality,” Jacob Sweet examines the complexities and motivations behind longevity research, particularly focusing on the use of rapamycin. The article centers around Jonathan An, an assistant professor of oral sciences at the University of Washington, who, while studying periodontal disease in mice, stumbled upon the anti-aging effects of rapamycin, a drug initially used for preventing organ-transplant rejection.

An’s research, which revealed that rapamycin could delay periodontal disease and promote jawbone regrowth in mice, quickly drew the attention of the longevity community. This community comprises not only scientists and researchers but also wealthy enthusiasts and various businesses, such as clinics and biotech firms, looking to capitalize on the growing trend of anti-aging products. The article illustrates the tension between scientific caution and commercial enthusiasm, emphasizing how rapamycin’s broader implications for human longevity are yet to be fully understood despite its proven effects in animals.

Jacob Sweet highlights how the longevity field has seen substantial financial injections from billionaires and venture capitalists, driven by a mix of genuine interest in health improvement and the allure of a potentially lucrative market. The article discusses significant investments in the sector, like those by Altos Labs, which has raised billions in funding. These investments reflect a strong belief in the commercial potential of extending human lifespan, which continues to gain traction among the elite.


The narrative also critically addresses the marketing of longevity, where the promise of extended life often overshadows the practical and currently limited applications of longevity drugs like rapamycin. Sweet points out that while the drug shows promise, the scientific community remains skeptical about its direct applicability to human aging, given the complexity of human biology compared to model organisms like mice and yeast.

Moreover, Sweet explores the ethical and practical challenges of longevity research. The longevity industry is portrayed as teetering between groundbreaking scientific discovery and speculative, if not premature, commercialization. Clinics and businesses might prematurely promote anti-aging treatments while the actual benefits, particularly in terms of extending human lifespan, remain largely unproven and are constrained by the slow pace of clinical trials and regulatory hurdles.

The article concludes by pondering the future of longevity research, suggesting that despite the excitement and investment, the field must temper expectations with rigorous scientific validation. It calls for a balanced approach to studying aging, advocating for continued investment in fundamental research rather than just the pursuit of marketable solutions. This, Sweet argues, is essential to ensure that longevity science yields genuine health benefits rather than simply feeding into the hype and hopes of those seeking to profit from the promise of eternal youth.

Read the full article here.

I tried the longevity test this doctor swears by. How did I score?

Phil Hilton’s narrative in “I tried the longevity test this doctor swears by. How did I score?” delves into the practical application of VO₂ max testing, a scientific method used to measure cardiovascular fitness and its correlation with longevity. The article not only details Hilton’s personal experience with the test but also frames it within the broader context of fitness and health longevity, guided by insights from Canadian doctor and podcaster Peter Attia.

VO₂ max, or maximal oxygen uptake, is the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise. It is considered one of the best indicators of cardiovascular fitness and a predictor of long-term health. The importance of this metric is underscored by Attia, who in his 2023 book “Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity,” highlights VO₂ max as a key determinant of an individual’s health span and life expectancy.

The Times

The testing process, as experienced by Hilton, involves wearing a mask and running on a treadmill, with the difficulty incrementally increasing. This setup measures how efficiently the body consumes oxygen during peak physical exertion. Hilton describes his anxiety and subsequent relief upon learning his VO₂ max score, which placed him in a high percentile for his age group. This personal achievement is woven into a discussion about the broader implications of knowing one’s VO₂ max, including tailored exercise regimens that could potentially enhance longevity.

The article emphasizes the surge in popularity of VO₂ max testing, fueled by growing public interest in personal health metrics and their implications for longevity. Livvy Probert, head of science at a personal training facility, remarks on the increasing demand for such tests, noting that as more people become aware of their VO₂ max, there is a concomitant increase in proactive health and fitness behaviors.

Phil Hilton’s account serves as an educational piece on the mechanics and benefits of VO₂ max testing. It outlines how such assessments can guide individuals in optimizing their fitness routines to improve cardiovascular health, which in turn could extend life expectancy. The narrative is practical, offering readers insights into how they can engage with and benefit from understanding and improving their VO₂ max, regardless of their current fitness level.

Moreover, the article provides a critical look at how commercial fitness and health industries adapt and promote longevity science for everyday use, making cutting-edge health metrics accessible and actionable for the general public. By demystifying the VO₂ max test through a personal story, Hilton bridges the gap between scientific health assessment and everyday wellness practices, illustrating a tangible application of longevity research in personal health management.

Read the full article here.

4 simple things will work just as well as a $40,000 membership

The article titled “Equinox’s new $40,000 membership promises to help you ‘live 100 healthy years,'” authored by Serafina Kenny, scrutinizes a new high-priced longevity program offered by the luxury gym chain Equinox. This program, “Optimize by Equinox,” epitomizes the intersection of luxury, wellness, and technology, targeting affluent consumers with a comprehensive suite of services designed to enhance longevity and health. This deep dive explores both the specifics of the Equinox offering and the broader implications for health equity and access within the longevity industry.

Equinox has partnered with Function Health, a health technology startup, to roll out this program in select locations, with a plan to expand nationwide. The membership costs $40,000 per year and includes a variety of personalized services such as biomarker and fitness tests conducted twice a year, personal training sessions, nutritional coaching, sleep consultations, and regular massages. These services are grounded in the latest advancements in health monitoring and optimization, with the goal of helping clients achieve a century of healthy living.

The program’s biomarker tests cover a wide range of health aspects, including heart, kidney, metabolism, and immune system functions, along with markers for cancer and nutrient levels. The article details how these tests are used to tailor individual health plans, incorporating up to 16 hours of personalized coaching and training each month. Despite the comprehensive nature of this program, the article raises questions about its accessibility and practical value, especially given its high cost.

Business Insider

Experts interviewed, including Dan Belsky, an epidemiologist, and Michael Snyder, a genomicist, express skepticism about the necessity of such an expensive program for achieving health longevity. They suggest that similar health outcomes could potentially be achieved through more affordable and accessible methods. The piece discusses how basic lifestyle adjustments—like regular exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating, and maintaining social connections—can significantly improve longevity and are within reach for a broader segment of the population.

Moreover, the article examines the societal and ethical considerations of such high-cost health programs. It points out that while the wealthy may benefit from such tailored and expensive health services, the fundamental elements of longevity, such as diet and exercise, should be universally accessible. This juxtaposition highlights a growing concern in the longevity industry about ensuring that advances in health and longevity are not solely the privilege of the wealthy but are accessible to all segments of society.

In conclusion, while “Optimize by Equinox” exemplifies how high-end health services can utilize the latest in medical science and personalized care to potentially extend life and enhance quality of living, it also underscores the need for the longevity industry to address broader issues of health equity and accessibility. The article prompts a discussion on how best to democratize longevity interventions, ensuring that the promising results of longevity research benefit the wider population, not just a select few.

Overall, this article presents a compelling vision of the future of longevity therapeutics, underscored by a mix of optimism for the technological and scientific progress and a cautious approach to the socio-economic and ethical challenges that accompany such ground-breaking advancements.

Read the full article here.

Final Thoughts

As we conclude our exploration of the intersections between longevity research, technology, and commercial ventures, several key insights emerge that have significant implications for the future of the industry. The articles reviewed in this edition provide a nuanced understanding of how scientific rigor and commercial interests interact, often in a delicate balance that influences both public perception and practical health outcomes.

Firstly, the investigation into rapamycin and its applicability in human health highlights a broader trend: the cautious optimism that characterizes much of the longevity research community. While promising results in animal models offer a glimpse of potential human applications, the translation of these findings into clinically relevant outcomes requires a sustained commitment to rigorous, long-term studies. This underscores the necessity for the longevity industry to maintain scientific integrity even as market pressures mount.

Secondly, the focus on VO₂ max as a health metric accessible through technological advancements illustrates the democratization of longevity science. As more individuals gain access to personal health data, the potential for informed, personalized health interventions becomes increasingly feasible. This shift not only empowers individuals but also challenges the industry to provide meaningful, actionable insights based on robust scientific evidence.

Lastly, the discussion surrounding high-cost health programs, such as those offered by Equinox, raises critical questions about health equity and the ethical implications of commodifying longevity. While such programs may provide an advanced level of personalized care, they also highlight a significant disparity in access to longevity-enhancing interventions. This disparity poses a challenge to the industry: to navigate the fine line between innovation and inclusivity.

In synthesizing these themes, it is evident that the future of longevity will be shaped by the ability of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to integrate scientific discovery with ethical considerations and market dynamics. The potential for significant advances in human healthspan is immense, but realizing this potential will require a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that prioritizes accessibility and public benefit as much as innovation.

As stakeholders in this evolving field, our role is not only to keep abreast of these developments but also to actively engage in shaping a longevity industry that is equitable, scientifically sound, and responsive to the needs of society at large. This edition aims to contribute to this ongoing dialogue, providing a platform for critical analysis and informed discussion that we hope will inspire continued progress in the field of longevity.

“We are not just aiming to add more years to life, but more life to years.”

Laura Carstensen

Top Longevity Reads

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