author: Alex Lightman
Iím writing the Forever young columns for transhumanists who want to live longer than the longest-lived human to date. Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment
was born in 1875 and died in 1997 at the ďold ageĒ of 122 years and 164 days.
Despite the apparent odds against outliving the oldest documented person, most transhumanists I now expect to live to 150. Just last night, Eric
Gradman, a computer scientist who does circus acts and fire-twirling, told me, ďI will live to 100, worst case, but intend to live until 250.Ē
Prof. Gregory Benford, chairman and co-founder of longevity supplement company Genescient (featured in my Forever Young column in h+ issue #3), stands
firm on his claim that he can tell me, at age 47, how to live until 150. Iíve known Greg for over 10 years, and heís never been wrong, so I choose
to believe him.
However, if 150, instead of 75, is the new span of life, then we need to get through the toughest rite of passage. The Massai boys of Kenya had to
face a lion to become men, and the Spartan boys had to face a wolf. We who would double our life-spans have to survive a similar trial ó facing down
our own cells, preventing them from becoming excessively feral and fertile through what I will call ďnew adolescence.Ē We face this passage during
that period from the mid-40s to the mid-60s when we are most likely to get cancer. Thereís bad news and good news. The bad news is that cancer
accounts for 23-25% of all deaths in the US (vs. about 26% for heart disease, the #1 cause) and will kill 292,540 men and 269,800 women in 2009,
according to the American Cancer Society. The good news is that if you can survive ďnew adolescenceĒ without dying of cancer, you are less likely
to die of cancer with each year that you add. A study of centenarians revealed that fewer than 4% died of cancer.
The other good news is that if you are reading this magazine, which probably requires a higher education and IQ level than just about any other
magazine in Barnes & Noble, you have the ultimate cancer fighters: curiosity and ability to process complex and weird information. Cancer is
basically what happens when your cells are copied with errors before they can get repaired ó and then they grow out of control. As a smart person,
you can employ useful information to reprogram yourself. Iím not a doctor, and Iím not giving health advice, so follow these eight New Rules at
your own risk. On the other hand, most people are aware that they need to look out for themselves.
To help spark new conversations, I offer these eight new rules for Cancer:
1. Cancer is a result of many things, the most easily treatable of which is information deficiency.
Itís important to read widely about cancer. Cure magazine (see resources) focuses on cancer treatment. As I write this the Cure website has a
feature article about sex toys, so itís not as grim as you might think. The cancer related sections in Aubrey de Greyís Ending Aging (pgs.
274-308) and Ray Kurzweilís Transcend are the minimum an h+ reader should read and grok.
2. Your success in staying cancer-free could be worth a fortune.
According to the Milken Institute, curing cancer is worth $50 trillion. If you come up with a program that works, you will be part of the solution and
might even be able to save lives of friends as well as strangersÖ and make money from both. Plus, 60% of US bankruptcies are from health care bills,
so stay healthy.
Insulin turns out to be the perfect nutrientÖ for cancer farming!
3. Get thin, as if your life depends on it, because it does!
Essential body fat is 3-5% for men and 9-11% for women. The average American man has 17-19% body fat and the average American woman has 22-25% body
fat. Greater fat correlates with greater insulin resistance (morbid obesity = much greater likelihood of getting diabetes). The more insulin
resistance you have, the more insulin your body has to produce, and the longer the insulin floats around in your blood stream. Insulin turns out to be
the perfect nutrientÖ for cancer farming! This could be part of the reason that the more obese someone is, the more likelihood he or she will get
cancer, particularly cancers of internal organs. Itís my own unscientific hunch that if humans got closer to essential body fat numbers, we would
see a drop in internal cancers, though itís important to keep in mind that that vitamins A, D, E, and K are lipid (fat) soluble, so you need
sufficient fat to absorb these vitamins.
4. The sun on your body is your friend for up to 10 minutes a day. After that, itís trying to kill you.
Get direct sunshine because itís the most natural source of vitamin D. However, direct sunlight can cause up to 50,000 DNA strand breaks per minute,
and if the cells divide before the damage is repaired, you could be setting skin cancer in motion, so 10 minutes is all you want. Approximately 68,000
cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year, and 7,000 prove to be fatal.
5. If you want a friend, get a dogÖ a cancer-sniffing dog.
Part of the reason skin cancers can prove fatal is that only 80% are diagnosed at the ďlocalĒ stage. There are dogs that, if they see or smell
cancer, will snarl, bark, and try to bite off the cancerous skin. Strange as it sounds, you actually want to get one of these dogs, and you want your
friends to get one too. You want to let the dog sniff you and see you slowly twirl around in all your naked glory at least once a week. Even more
importantly, you want a dog that can sniff your urine and bark if you have cancer. Iím serious as cancer about this. And every time you buy a
cancer-sniffing dog, you increase the likelihood that this trait will be bred for and trained for.
It takes a village (without an idiot) to keep you cancer free.
Friends, even Facebook friends, can potentially give you information about diet, exercise, supplements, natural cures, good doctors, bad hospitals,
and so forth that may end up saving your life. Become friends with the smartest people who are also interested (in fact, obsessed is good) in
longevity ó and in getting you through the twenty years of increased cancer risk.
7. Donít like taxes? Well, cancer is a tax.
Cancer is a tax on fat people, lazy people, smokers, and people who consume processed meats and coat their bodies with lots of chemicals. You donít
have to pay this tax, but it does mean changing or eliminating what you eat, drink, smoke, or rub on your skin.
8. Youíve got to keep moving.
Cardiovascular exercise does over 100 helpful things to the human body. If you tried to duplicate all these good chemical interactions in your body
with prescription drugs, it would cost a fortune, and youíd probably get sick from the drug interactions. Yet only a minority of doctors prescribes
exercise. Well, consider this your prescription: you need to exercise for at least an hour, at least three times a week. I know normal people who
exercise 20 to 30 hours a week and have fun doing it. None of them have cancer. It may not be the reason they donít have cancer, but to the best of
my knowledge this hasnít been tested, so itís entirely possible. Good luck with your adventures in longevity. May you and yours stay healthy until
Alex Lightman is the Executive Director of Humanity+ (the organization) and CTO of FutureMax, a merchant bank. He is the author of Brave New
Unwired World, the first book on 4G wireless.