Anti-Aging Research: Public Attitudes 

Aging Info Home

The following information results from a poll conducted on a local (U.S.) information web site between January 2003 and February 2004.  465 people responded.

The poll showed that the majority of people (69 %) think that there will never be any meaningful treatment of the root cause of aging or that such treatments are only a very distant possibility.  Most people are unaware of evidence that aging might be very treatable in the relatively short term and believe in a variety of (mostly) scientifically unpopular theories regarding the cause of aging.  These attitudes have predictable results regarding the popularity of publicly funded anti-aging research.

This survey is discussed in more detail in the online book: The Evolution of Aging (PDF version).

O Do you live in: [83%] United States [15%] Canada [ 2%] Other

O Your Age: [14%] Under 20 [15%] 21 - 30 [23%] 31 - 45 [20%] 46 - 55 [18%] 56 - 65 [ 9%] Over 65

O Your Sex: [44%] Male [56%] Female

O Your Education: [29%] High School [33%] Some College [24%] College Degree [14%] Graduate School

O Have you ever studied biology? [20%] No [53%] Yes, High School Only [27%] Yes, College

O What do you think is the most likely cause of aging?

[26%] All living things eventually wear out.

[36%] Damage to cells, DNA, or other critical function gradually accumulates.

[33%] We are designed to age.

[ 6%] Nobody knows. We may never know.

O Which of the following most closely describes your views about anti-aging treatments?

[51%] Aging is an inescapable biological reality - There will never be meaningful treatment of the fundamental causes.

[18%] Some day in the very distant future they might find a treatment.

[18%] Treatment of the fundamental causes of aging is possible in the relatively near term.

[ 6%] A major treatment for aging might be as easy to do as a major treatment for AIDS.

[ 8%] Effective, significant, treatments are already available such as HGH.

The National Institute of Aging (NIA)(part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)) provides funds to study fundamental causes of aging as well as study of some specific age related diseases such as Alzheimer's. In 2003 NIA's budget request was about $965 million. The study of AIDS was funded at $2.8 billion. Total NIH budget was about $27 billion. For comparison, expenditures for chewing gum in the U.S. are about $2 billion annually.

O Do you think taxpayer provided funding for fundamental research on aging should be: [30%] Increased [24%] Decreased [46%] Stay the Same

O Do you think anti-aging research has any moral issues? [49%] No [29%] I am somewhat concerned [22%] Yes, we should not try to extend natural life span.

O Did you know that there are species that apparently do not age such as yellow-eye rockfish and some turtles? [26%] Yes [74%] No

O Did you know that genes have been found in mice and other organisms which apparently cause aging. Inactivation of these genes through genetic engineering has extended average life spans by as much as 50 percent. [30%] Yes [70%] No

O Did you know that restricting caloric intake of lab rats while maintaining a nutritious diet has extended average life spans by as much as 50 percent? The rats are healthier in addition to living longer. Similar results have been observed in other animals. [52%] Yes [48%] No

O Did you know that researchers are searching for a medication which would mime the anti-aging effects of caloric restriction without having to actually restrict consumption? Preliminary results are encouraging. [23%] Yes [77%] No

O Did you know that the diseases causing the largest numbers of fatalities are all age related? Ninety percent of Americans who died in 1999 were over 57. [44%] Yes [56%] No

Copyright 2004 Theodore C. Goldsmith