Lifespans: How Long Is Too Long?

A Pew Research Center survey released this week revealed that despite Americans' optimism about advances in medical technology, a slight majority said they wouldn't want to have their lifespans extended past 120 with such technology.

What's the Latest Development?


A Pew Research Center survey released this week described Americans' feelings about life expectancy and the possibility of extending it through advanced medical treatments. While a majority believed that a cure for cancer and improved prosthetic limbs are around the corner -- despite scientific evidence to the contrary -- a smaller majority said they would not want age-delaying treatments that would allow them to live past the age of 120. Those opposed to such technology included people who saw the presence of more elderly people as "a resource burden" and "bad for society."

What's the Big Idea?

As things currently stand medically and technologically, fewer than 10 percent of those surveyed wanted to live past 100, and 30 percent didn't want to live past 80. Writer William Saletan notes: "If resistance to life extension is based on the assumption that the extra years would be frail and painful, look out. That resistance will dissolve in the face of contrary evidence. If modern medicine learns how to slow aging, making the average 90-year-old feel as good as a 70-year-old feels today, people will recalibrate. Those who in our time would have preferred to die at 80 might be happy to live to 100."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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