Medical technology

french at RUST.ZSO.DEC.COM french at RUST.ZSO.DEC.COM
Mon Jun 1 13:58:08 EST 1992

In reply to: Phillips at GMP at PSUVM.PSU.EDU

> How many people on respirators ever get weaned off?
> Does a CABG really prolong life?  If so, what is the evidence?
> Are anti-depressive drugs really anti-depressive or are they vegetable makers?
> How do you know for sure a person is brain dead?

Regretfully, I am not an expert on gerontology and can not answer
your questions.  Hopefully, someone else on the newsgroup can
answer these questions.

> I regard your speculation about gene tampering as science fiction, at the
> moment.  

Science fiction?  Yes, and no.  Yes, it will a long time before we will
be able to engineer better error-correction mechanisms into the human
genome.  However, the need for doing so has important implications for
the way medicine is practiced today.

For example, lets assume that medical procedures were available
to fix all possible complications caused by broken genes.  Since gene
breakage increases exponentally at the rate of X^5 as we age, then
the number of medical procedures required to maintain one's health 
would also increase exponentially with age.   Clearly, there exists
a point where the life-extension value provided by certain medical 
procedures is not worth the cost.

This begs the question of how will we decide which medical procedures
are not worth it.  Are current medical procedures a good value?  
Are the elderly consuming an unreasonable proportion of the countries 
resources and so on?  Hopefully, our politicans and the medical community 
will be responsible enough to make the choices that must be made.

Ultimately, it is in the best self-interest of the medical community to 
limit itself to avoid the backlash that will occur if things continue 
on the the current track.

- Larry French

More information about the Ageing mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net