why you can’t “hack yourself” to live for two centuries
Biohacking is the next big craze for those obsessed with taking charge of their health beyond just diet and exercise. But while it sounds like science, there’s no evidence it actually works.
According to a profile in Men’s Health, the founder of Bulletproof, Dave Aspey, wants to live to the ripe, old age of 180, and he intends to do that with something known as biohacking. While you might be picturing genetic engineering and cybernetic implants, the kind we discussed in the life extension episode of the WoWT podcast, that’s not at all what biohacking means. It’s just a Silicon Valley-esque term for random experiments with various forms of dieting, exercise, very controversial and experimental medical treatments, and alternative medicine quackery. Aspey’s routine sounds positively exhausting, costs millions of dollars to maintain, and there’s absolutely no evidence that any of it other than diet and exercise, can meaningfully extend your lifespan.
Basically, Aspey is likely to live longer than a typical person, but that’s because he’s wealthy. In the meantime, everything else he’s doing either just makes him feel good, or should help him be more active in his golden years, and age more gracefully. However, he may be playing with fire by receiving extensive stem cell injections into his joints because some stem cells can turn into cancerous tumors, or cause an overreaction to what the body sees as foreign organisms invading its tissues. Sure, some of those stem cells might reinforce his joints while some will just be killed by his immune system. Others might never receive the signal to turn into the surrounding cell type and start unstoppably, chaotically dividing.
When it comes to stem cells, we’re not really sure how it all works yet and lack the controls to make sure these stem cell injections are safe. But what we do know is that taking hundreds and hundreds of supplements isn’t good for you. In the best case scenario, you’ll just urinate out the active ingredients. In the worst, they could interact with real medications or exacerbate some medical conditions. Yet, the technicalities of scientific knowledge when it comes to health don’t phase Aspey in the slightest, and he barrels ahead with detailed and simple guidelines to his fans and customers on how to live a longer, better life. As the profile reflects after a whirlwind tour of Bulletproof’s offerings…
I’ve felt it myself, the desperate desire to have someone just tell me what to do. Doctors hem and haw; they speak in hedged probabilities and avoid making bold claims. Asprey, in contrast, is happy to tell me that there are “absolutely” several ways to reverse Alzheimer’s, that he can more than double the average life span, and that we are all able take control of our own biology and make our bodies do exactly what we want them to.
It’s entirely understandable why so many people are frustrated by doctors who won’t just give them a step by step guide. But the reason why they won’t is that doing so is hideously irresponsible. They respect their authority and don’t want to abuse it by giving people advice which they’re not absolutely, 100% sure of, based on little more than browsing the abstract of preliminary studies. Aspey, and biohacker evangelists like him, are engaging, confident, and detailed about things they clearly could not know enough about, and those who follow their advice feel empowered, at ease, on track, but might also follow these self-anointed health gurus right off a cliff, financially and medically, if they get something wrong. Today’s biohackers are the blind leading the blind. They just cover their blindness under a thick layer of confidence and self-empowerment mantras.