The field of ageing research is full of characters. We have hucksters claiming that cures for ageing can be bought and sold; prophetic seers, their hands extended for money, warning that immortality is nigh; and would-be Nobelists working methodically in laboratories in search of a pill to slow ageing.
We have grown accustomed to the wonders of clean water, indoor plumbing, laser surgery, genetic engineering, artificial joints, replacement body parts, and the much longer lives that accompany them. Yet we should remember that the vast majority of humans ever born died before the age of 10 from an infectious disease.
While eliminating smallpox and curtailing cholera added decades of life to vast populations, cures for the chronic diseases of old age cannot have the same effect on life expectancy. A cure for cancer would be miraculous and welcome, but it would lead to only a three-year increase in life expectancy at birth.