Risk Dialogue Series: Understanding the Drivers of Longevity

31 Oct 2012

All over the world, people are living longer. The implications are profound. It will influence the way we work, the tax we pay, our financial planning, our housing decisions and much more. The more we understand about our future longevity, the better prepared we can be.

Our longevity will be impacted by multiple factors. Of great importance will be medical services and treatment. Will we find a cure for cancer, HIV, or Alzheimer's disease? The Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue has invited leading experts in medicine, biology and public health, both from industry and academia, to contribute to the "Risk Dialogue Series: Understanding the Drivers of Longevity" publication. They have provided their perspectives of the latest bio-medical research developments, public health and mortality trends, and medical innovation in disease diagnostic and novel treatment – all with an eye to what these mean for the future of longevity. The articles seek to provide a broad range of insights into current medical trends and developments influencing how long we live.

The publication initially explores the biological mechanisms of ageing and the link to disease. A new integrative analysis of health risk factors combined with lessons from past mortality experience provide us with new tools and techniques to better manage health. Two articles guide us through the recent genetic revolution and the improved identification of biomarkers and their use in disease diagnostics. The innovative research fields of regenerative medicine, stem cells and their link to ageing are explored. An interview on the diagnostics and treatment of Alzheimer's disease is followed by an article on the outlook for the cutting edge science of nanomedicine.

Re/insurers have a significant interest in understanding longevity trends. The re/insurance industry is responsible for underwriting lives and providing health insurance across the world. The financial implications of changes in longevity for both re/insurer and their customers are considerable. It is with this in mind that Swiss Re is seeking to deepen its actuarial and underwriting knowledge through interaction with leading medical practitioners and researchers.

Swiss Re is also aware of the broader implications of populations growing older. We will all have to rethink the way we live as individuals and as communities. A dialogue will need to take place between multiple stakeholders in managing this transition. Ageing and increased longevity are arguably the most important developments in societies today. Improved understanding of how this may occur and the repercussions will be important in successfully managing these changes. This publication - one of a number of Swiss Re initiatives into longevity - represents a small step forward in this understanding.

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