Questioning the Ethics of Anti-Aging


Art Caplan is the University of Pennsylvania director for the center of Bioethics. Last summer he gave a one-hour lecture at the historic Chautauqua Institution about extended life, enhancement of our bodies and the potential use of advanced stem cell technology to achieve these goals.

Caplan argues for the permissibility of enhancement by refuting the arguments of a group he calls “new puritans”, who object to medical advancements that could enable us to live longer and look better. Persons who hold this puritanical view often disapprove of cosmetic enhancement as well. One person in his audience had spoken of a family member getting a facelift, and a younger woman responded with harsh criticism saying, that’s terrible. It’s unbelievable that you would do that, you should simply accept the changes as they come.

Caplan systematically dismisses each of these objections and presents his own argument in favor of true anti-aging, based on a theory that we could double the life-span of a human with the help of stem cells.

His proposal in favor of embryonic stem cell research is this: Weâ??ve already doubled our lifespan since ancient times. There is no natural order of things when it comes to how long we should exist or how good we should look during that time. Stem cell technology need not come from new sources, but embryos that we already use for other purposes.

What we use to repair disease, we can also use to enhance. There can be whole body rejuvenation, including the mind, with the help of this technology. Skin, organs, hair and everything in between can be enhanced with regenerative cells. Similar things have successfully been done to small organisms. If we fund it now and conquer these frivolous (and perhaps not so frivolous) arguments, real anti aging can become a reality.

The hour-long lecture can be found in its entirety here on Minnesota Public Radio.

Stem Cell Research Could Dramatically Alter Breast Augmentation Surgeries

New research by medical scientists has revealed that human body fat is rich in stem cells. This discovery has spawned many interesting developments on the cosmetic surgery front. In Japan, a surgeon named Kotaro Yoshimura claims he can fortify fat even further with stem cells and use the product to perform a breast augmentation. The regenerative properties of stem cells apparently make this possible.

A similar procedure has been documented in the United States, but unlike Yoshimura’s technique, it doesn’t involve stem cell fortification. Dr Sydney Coleman of New York claims he has been performing breast augmentations using transplanted fat for years. He published an article in the publication Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery detailing the process.

But Coleman’s technique comes with certain risks. The most undesirable and commonly associated risk is the death and subsequent calcification of the transplanted fat. The body rejects the reintroduced tissue, failing to integrate it into its surroundings. Some speculate that this process might also hinder the effectiveness of mammogram screening.

Theoretically, fat supplemented with stem cells should more readily integrate itself with the body, as a new blood supply forms and the blood vessels bond with the new tissue. If this indeed became a reality, the breast implant would cease to be an implant and become a wholly natural augmentation.

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic surgery is funding a related study. Interested patients should visit can www.ClinicalTrials.gov for more information.

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