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Why patients with Alzheimer's disease live longer


It is illegal to die of natural causes or of old age
Leonard Hayflick Scientist
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The death certificates are very interesting in themselves. It was... it's important to understand in this discourse that the causes of death that I mentioned are causes of death put on death certificates. That's the key phrase.

When the causes of death put on death certificates – like cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke – are eliminated, it says nothing about the fundamental biology of aging being eliminated. In fact, the causes of death are listed in an international document called the ICD, International Causes of Death, and it's updated frequently, mostly by statisticians. I don't... I'm not aware of biologists or geriatricians or physicians being intimately involved in the updating and handling of those numbers, which is very important. If you read the list of the 131 possible causes of death – which, as I say, are internationally accepted – you will find that it is illegal to die from natural causes, it is also illegal to die of old age, and if you put that on a death certificate you could go to jail, because it's illegal. Of course, I'm being facetious, but you can't choose those two, despite the fact that you find them frequently listed as the cause of death of some celebrity in the news media.

Leonard Hayflick (b. 1928), the recipient of several research prizes and awards, including the 1991 Sandoz Prize for Gerontological Research, is known for his research in cell biology, virus vaccine development, and mycoplasmology. He also has studied the ageing process for more than thirty years. Hayflick is known for discovering that human cells divide for a limited number of times in vitro (refuting the contention by Alexis Carrel that normal body cells are immortal), which is known as the Hayflick limit, as well as developing the first normal human diploid cell strains for studies on human ageing and for research use throughout the world. He also made the first oral polio vaccine produced in a continuously propogated cell strain - work which contributed to significant virus vaccine development.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: International Causes of Death

Duration: 1 minute, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2011

Date story went live: 08 August 2012