Living Longer, Feeling Better
with Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw
Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw co-authored two of the best selling books on human longevity– Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach(Warner Books, 1982), and The Life Extension Companion (Warner Books, 1984)– which triggered a large amount of popular interest in the subject, and their many television talk show appearances reached a large number of people.
Although perhaps the ultimate goal of medicine all along, the idea of extending human life in otherwise healthy individuals was a completely novel concept for most people when Pearson and Shaw published their first book back in 1982. How many people could have predicted back in the early eighties, that in just a few years after the publication of their ground-breaking book, there would be such huge world-wide interest in preventativemedicine?
The scientifically-sophisticated team of Pearson (with a degree in physics from MIT) and Shaw (with a degree in chemistry from UCLA) was not surprised by this swelling global interest, and had, in fact, been anticipating it. They are, without question, two of the most well-informed peopleon the planet regarding the biochemical mechanisms of aging, and study it full- time. They have also been very politically-active over the yearswith regard to protecting people’s rights to access nutritional supplements, and to easily obtain available accurate information about the supplements which may benefit their health.
To this effect, they wrote the book Freedom of Informed Choice: FDA Versus Nutritional Supplements (Common Sense Press, 1993), and are presently plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the FDA, charging the government agency with restricting manufacturers from distributing truthful health information (which they view as a violation of the constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech) that could save many people’s lives.They also design nutritional supplement formulations for their own use (some of which are also available commercially) that are as tasty as they are effective, and they could be considered biochemical “gourmets” of a sort.
I found Durk and Sandy to be fascinating. The couple makes a great team, often completing one another’s sentences, and bouncing ideas and facts back and forth off each other. The breadth of their knowledge is staggering, and it doesn’t take much to get them talking passionately about theirfavorite subjects– life extension and freedom. A few questions can ignite an information explosion. They live on a mountain top in centralNevada, a hundred miles from the nearest traffic signal. This interview occurred on April 18, 1996.
David: What inspired your interest in life extension?
Durk: Back in 1968 my old roommate from MIT, Erwin Strauss, sent us a photocopy of an article out of Playboy about Dr. Denham Harman’s free radical theory of aging. Now, that was the last thing that I expected to find in Playboy, and I certainly didn’t trust it as a scientific source. But we did go down to theUCLA biomedical library, and we started looking up everything by Dr. Denham Harman and the free radical theory of aging.