2024 Will Be A Big Year For The Longevity Industry
Is climate change and overall uncertainty inspiring everyone to live longer?
It’s human nature to buck against our own mortality. We (well, many of us) avoid the prospect of death insofar as we’re able, attempting to nullify or delay our own aging through fitness routines, healthy diets, multitudinous amounts of skin care products, and cosmetic surgery. After all, a long, healthy life on this planet is what we’re all after — right? — and if elements within our control can make said lives last a bit longer, all while our bodies and minds remain vital and vibrant, we as a collective, are all ears. The expanding longevity industry provides proof of this universal. This fast-growing realm of research, podcasts, pharmaceuticals, and clinics aims to bolster lifespan through areas like fitness, nutrition, testing, and supplementation.
But how does living in a time defined by recovery from a global pandemic, the tangible effects of climate change, modern political unrest, and overall uncertainty shift the conversation around a longer-than-thou lifespan? As it turns out, signs of a struggling planet may actually be inspiring an increase in the sort of proactive care that the longevity industry provides.
“The longevity industry focuses on geroscience — the study of what makes us old — and looks to slow down or even reverse the process,” says Chris Mirabile, founder and CEO of consumer longevity biotech company NOVOS. Brands like NOVOS look to address the fundamental aging process rather than individual diseases, the better to delay or avoid the latter. The area of study and product innovation is inherently wellness-focused (tending to one’s body is undeniably an act of self-care), and aims to extend the number and quality of the years we spend on this planet.
According to a recent report from Gitnux, the global longevity market (which in 2019 was valued at nearly $330 million) is projected to grow at an 8.6% CAGR between 2020 to 2027. Public figures like Peter Attia and Andrew Huberman, who share accessible scientific research and lifestyle suggestions designed to increase longevity, have garnered millions of followers and listeners in recent years, all looking to maximize the mind and body while making sure each last (and stay strong) for as long as possible. A search for “longevity” on TikTok finds the hashtag sitting at nearly 600 million views, accompanied by more well-tread terms like “healthy living,” “anti-aging,” and more.
“Longevity science, which a decade ago was considered radical and unorthodox, is now mainstream,” says longevity researcher Dr. Diogo Barardo. “Hundreds of the top researchers have switched their field of study to focus on longevity and billions of dollars of private and public funds are pouring into R&D.” Barardo cites the pandemic and a subsequent increase in attention to health as a factor in the industry’s growth. “It’s naturally appealing to everyone who is health-minded.”
Technology also plays a part in the upward trend. Between smart devices, science-backed supplements, tests like epigenetic clocks (these measure biomarkers in aging to help manage the process), and readily available research, those engaged with longevity seem to be ditching dreams of a fountain of youth in favor of tangible factors within their control. A yearning for education, learning how to “hack” the physical body through practices and routines (bio-hacking is another can of worms entirely), or simply to better understand its processes, is another goal. But it also seems to come down to people wanting to be in the driver’s seat of their lives.
“Threats like climate change and political upheaval are much more abstract and global than many of the immediate survival threats that we faced for much of our history as humans,” says Dr. Darby Saxbe, professor of psychology at the University of Southern California. “That gives us a sense of powerlessness that make us feel helpless and hopeless. If the biggest threats are outside our control, it makes us lose our sense of meaning, purpose, and trust in the future.” Attempting to master and enhance our own brains, bodies, and lifespans provides a means of escape through grounding — the world may be experiencing some existential dread, but there’s still potential to feel as good and to live as long as possible amid the shifts.
To help manage mental stress, Dr. Barardo recommends an easy-to-remember mantra: after acceptance, move to action. “Taking responsibility and fighting a stressor is intrinsically an anti-stress attitude,” he says. Whether that looks like volunteering, donating, or empowering yourself to achieve optimal health, do your best to transmute any uncertainty into proactivity. “It’s worth noting that stress is evolutionarily advantageous,” notes Barardo. “Mild stress brings out our strengths, and conditions us to deal with future, larger stressors.”
The last months alone has seen wildfires rage across Maui, Oregon, Canada, Louisiana, Greece, and more; an unfathomable earthquake in Morocco; flooding in Hong Kong; tropical storms in the southwest and Texas; and the hottest month in modern times. It’s a lot. Perhaps the best we can do in a world that feels so very out of control is do our best to stay mindful (the better to appreciate the planet and our place within it) and tend to our communities, our loved ones, and ourselves — and forgive ourselves if we falter.
“While tangible challenges like climate change and our divisive political climate are urgent and pressing, the psychological battles individuals face because of them are perhaps even more significant,” says Board-Certified Psychiatrist Dr. Anna Yusim. “To truly address global challenges, individuals must first combat internal fears, understanding that achieving mental balance is an essential precursor to restoring peace and harmony in our world.”
Because living a long and healthy life is better if we’re happy, too.