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与长寿相伴随的难题
Living longer is not all good news

来源:FT中文网    2017-10-12 05:58



        Is the rise in life expectancy in the west coming to an end? If you look at the data it seems so. In March this year Britain’s Office for National Statistics announced something depressing: a slight fall in life expectancy for pensioners — six months for women and four for men.        西方预期寿命不再上升了吗?如果你看相关数据,答案似乎是肯定的。今年3月,英国国家统计局(Office For National Statistics)宣布了令人沮丧的事情:养老金领取者的预期寿命略有下降——女性下降了6个月,男性下降了4个月。
        Overall, life expectancy is still ticking up but at a much slower rate than everyone thought it would — at a time when there is no war on; no nasty new disease on the rampage; and no particular life-shortening social problem evident. Numbers out from the ONS this week show an increase of 0.1 per cent for a child born between 2014 and 2016. There might be 571,245 people in their nineties living in the UK, but current data suggest that most of us will still only make it to our mid-to-late eighties.        总体而言,预期寿命仍在上升,但速度远低于所有人的预期——如今没有大规模战争、没有什么恶性的新疾病在肆虐,也没有任何明显的导致寿命缩短的特殊社会问题。英国国家统计局近日发布的数据显示,2014年至2016年出生的孩子的预期寿命上升了0.1%。英国上90岁的人可能有57.1245万,但当前数据表明,我们大多数人仍然只能活到85至89岁之间。
        This isn’t just happening in the UK. In 2016 life expectancy in the US fell for the first time since 1993 — and the rate of growth has slowed in most other developed countries. The average American woman is now forecast to only just scrape into her eighties — and her husband probably won’t.        这种情况不只发生在英国。2016年,美国预期寿命出现自1993年以来的首次下降,其他发达国家的预期寿命上升速度也大多放缓。美国普通女性的预期寿命如今仅为80岁出头,她们的丈夫可能还达不到这一水平。
        There is no shortage of experts out there prepared to explain why life expectancy has stalled. Maybe it’s a result of the financial crisis, a failure of elderly care linked to austerity? Maybe it’s obesity, something that could even make today’s young the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents? Or maybe it is just that we are already close to the outer limits of possibility when it comes to life expectancy?        有的是专家准备解释预期寿命为何停止增长。或许这是金融危机的结果,因紧缩措施导致的老年人护理不得力?或许是因为肥胖——肥胖甚至可能让如今的年轻人成为第一代寿命不如他们父母的人?也可能只是因为我们已经接近了预期寿命的客观极限?
        Yet look a little closer and talk to longevity experts and healthcare investors and a different picture emerges. The slowdown in life expectancy actually comes at a time when the science of ageing is getting very exciting. Much of the rise in life expectancy of the past 50 years has been down to environmental effects: the near eradication of real poverty in the west; the rise of universal medical treatment; antibiotics; better air quality; improved working conditions.        然而,再仔细研究一下,并与长寿专家和医疗领域投资者交谈一番,就会发现不同的答案。预期寿命增长放缓实际上发生在老龄化科学取得振奋人心的进展之际。过去50年的预期寿命增长很大程度上是环境效应导致的:西方基本消除实际贫困、全民医疗的兴起、抗生素的出现、空气质量以及工作条件改善。
        There is more of this to come. Look around today and you will see a good fewer heavy smoking, overweight drinkers knocking about than was the case a decade or so ago. We are also still getting a helping hand from the gift that never stops giving: evolution. New research from geneticists at Columbia University suggests it is weeding out genetic variants linked to Alzheimer’s disease and heavy smoking.        还会有更多的环境效应。环顾四周,你会发现,与大约十年前相比,街头闲逛的又抽烟又酗酒的胖子要少得多。我们还在从永远不会停止的进化中得到帮助。哥伦比亚大学(Columbia University)的遗传学家们的新研究表明,进化正在消除与阿尔茨海默症(Alzheimer's)和过度吸烟相关的基因变异。
        All these things should keep adding a little more to the numbers. They are also just the beginning. Next will come an enhanced understanding of what actually causes ageing and how it can be stalled, alongside the start of mass molecular fiddling. One example of the latter. You will have read about Silicon Valley tycoons having regular blood transfusions to rejuvenate. But most people involved in the longevity business are less likely to be doing this than be taking the generic — and very cheap — diabetes drug metformin, on the basis that it keeps blood sugar levels stable and so slows ageing for non-diabetics too.        所有这些应该会让预期寿命更长一些。这也仅仅是开始。接下来我们将更深入地理解究竟是什么导致衰老,以及如何才能停止衰老,此外开始大规模地捣鼓分子。后者的一个例子是,你应该会看到有关硅谷巨头定期输血以恢复活力的报道。但致力于长寿事业的人大多不太可能这么做,他们只能使用非常便宜的治疗糖尿病的基因药物二甲双胍,因为它让血糖水平保持稳定,从而也延缓了非糖尿病患者的衰老。
        In their new book Juvenesence: Investing in the Age of Longevity, Jim Mellon and Al Chalabi forecast that within the next 20 years average life expectancy in the developed world will rise to between 110 and 120. We will enter a new world in which “genetic engineering, cellular enhancements and organ replacements” will give us all the chance to be super centenarians. Adopt the right lifestyle and drugs to make it through the next 10 or 20 years and these technologies could give you at least another 20.        吉姆•梅隆(Jim Mellon)和阿尔•沙拉比(Ahmed Chalabi)在他们的新书《恢复活力:投资于长寿时代》(Juvenesence: Investing in the Age of Longevity)中预测,在未来20年内,发达世界平均预期寿命将上升到110岁至120岁之间。我们将进入一个新的世界,“基因工程、细胞强化和器官移植”将让我们全都有可能成为百岁老人。采用正确的生活方式和药物来度过未来的10年或20年,这些技术可能至少让你多活20年。
        This makes the authors happy: their book is full of soothing thoughts about how the old patterns of our lives — be born, learn, earn, retire, expire — will soon be upended. We will “learn continuously”, have multiple careers and hobbies, and will start and connect with our families in very different ways.        这让上述两位作者感到高兴:他们的著作充斥着对我们旧的生活模式——出生、学习、收入、退休和死亡——如何很快被颠覆的宽慰性想法。我们将“不断地学习”,有多个职业和爱好,而且组建家庭和与家人联系的方式也会与以前截然不同。
        That’s going to sound lovely to most people. But you can bet there is a large group who find it totally terrifying: policymakers. Ageing populations are very expensive. Our systems aren’t yet in any way equipped to cope with the odd half a million 90-year-olds the UK has already, let alone millions of 100-year olds. Our health and welfare systems were designed for a different era, and the unfunded liabilities of public and private pension funds are the kind of thing that never get addressed. This should make individuals worry, too.        这对大多数人来说听起来很美好。但你可以肯定有一大群人会发现它非常可怕,那就是政策制定者。老龄化人口非常昂贵。我们的体系已经不管怎样都应付不了英国现有的50多万的90岁老人,更别提数百万百岁老人了。我们的健康和医疗体系是针对一个不同的时代设计的,公共和私人养老基金的无资金准备的负债是那种永远也得不到解决的问题。这应该也让个人感到担忧。
        Very few people have planned properly for their own retirements — and even if they have, extended longevity will mean that the assumptions on which they have based their calculations are entirely wrong. On top of this, almost no one will have planned for the fact that this will make governments that don’t seriously reform — my guess is that’s all of them — increasingly broke. Nor will they have planned for the obvious next step: that cash-strapped governments look to other people’s capital for help.        很少有人为他们自己的退休做出正确的规划——即便他们做了规划,寿命延长也将意味着,他们进行计算所依据的假设是完全错误的。除此之外,几乎没有人为如下事实规划,即这将让没有深刻改革的政府逐渐破产——我的猜测是所有政府。他们也没有为政府明显会采取的下一步未雨绸缪:资金紧张的政府将考虑寻求其他人资本的帮助。
        If we do enter a new age of the long-lived, it will probably be less an age of the happy rentier than the very heavily taxed rentier. If you don’t want to spend your 11th decade wishing that longevity science had never become a thing, think of what you once thought you should save for your retirement and triple it. Golden years? Working years.        如果我们的确进入了长寿的新时代,那也可能是对食利者(rentier)征收重税的时代,而不是让食利者感到高兴的时代。如果你不想在上了100岁的时候希望长寿科学永远不要有成果,那么想想你曾经考虑为退休储蓄的钱,然后积攒三倍的钱。黄金岁月?那是工作时期。
        The writer is editor-in-chief of Money Week        本文作者是《Money Week》总编
                
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