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To Age Or Not To Age


NO TIME TO DIE hits stores on Aug 26th.

To Age or Not to Age?

By Kira Peikoff 

            In my new book NO TIME TO DIE, Zoe Kincaid, a 20-year-old college dropout, has long endured a mystifying ailment that has stunted her development. The truth will shock her: she’s biologically stopped aging, and her DNA may hold the key to unlocking a secret sought since the dawn of time: why do we age and die? But with some powerful people willing to kill, soon Zoe finds herself at the center of a dangerous manhunt with epic consequences.

            I created the character of Zoe after learning about the real-life case of Brooke Greenberg, an adolescent girl who had inexplicably stopped aging as a toddler. Today, six other similar girls have been identified, and they are all participating in a cutting-edge research study that aims to examine their DNA for shared mutations. The hope is that scientists will discover a gene (or group of genes) at the root of the aging process, which could then be turned on or off. Imagine being able to stop aging whenever you wanted; would you do it? I think I know your answer, but think again. What would it really be like to be forever young? Would it be a good—or terrible–thing for society?

            Huge pluses come to mind: Many diseases of aging would drastically diminish, like cancer and Alzheimer’s. The financial savings to the health care system would be tremendous, and an astronomical number of personal and familial tragedies would be averted. If you froze yourself at the perfect age, like 25, you could feel and look youthful indefinitely. As a woman, you would no longer have to bear the biological pressure to settle down and have kids by a certain age. The career playing field might finally be level for both sexes. Speaking of kids, you could live a full, productive life alongside your kids and grandkids, and… who knows how many generations. You wouldn’t have to mourn the painful passing of your elderly parents, if they stayed young, too. You could also take the time to pursue as many passions and hobbies as you want, because your years might be effectively limitless. (You could still die of injuries, accidents, or contagious diseases, though. But you wouldn’t deteriorate the way old people do today.)

Author photo Kira Peikoff credit Matt Jacob

Photograph by Matt Jacob

            Of course, there could be some pretty big downsides to ending aging, too. If we all opted to do it, our population would experience a sudden growth that could dangerously challenge our existing infrastructure. Housing and food shortages might become severe. To accommodate the growing numbers, people would have to stop having as many kids, and/or some people might be restricted from controlling their aging so that not everyone could stay young at once. This would prompt unprecedented ethical questions—should money play a role? Should local or federal government? Should there be a lottery system? Who should make these decisions? Also, current federal programs like Social Security and Medicare would become irrelevant, if people were no longer aging out of the workforce. On the flip side, our economy could grow by leaps and bounds if it were not losing millions of workers a year to disease and old age. Paradoxically, we might actually become more of a thriving society than we are now, if—and it’s a big if–we could find solutions to the inherent problems.

            These scenarios are not as far-fetched as you may think. Some leading researchers say that the scientific fountain of youth will be discovered within the next century. So what do you think? Are you all for curing aging, or do you think this kind of science is a Pandora’s Box best left alone? Leave your answer in the comments! 

Kira Peikoff

Kira  is the author of NO TIME TO DIE (Pinnacle Books, September 2014) and is a graduate of New York University with a degree in journalism. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Bioethics at Columbia University. Her articles have been published in a variety of major media outlets, including The New York Times, and she writes a regular health column for Cosmopolitan.com. She is a member of The American Society of Journalists and Authors, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America. Visit her online at www.kirapeikoff.com.