In 1980, Dr. James Fries, Professor of Medicine, Stanford University introduced the concept of Compression of Morbidity.

Our lifespan is comprised of when we are born until we die, while our healthspan is the period of time when we are healthy until we shift to a paradigm where we start the decline.

This point of shift is known as the Onset of Morbidity, after which we are subjected to ever-increasing, age-related diseases, from cardiovascular disease to strokes, osteoarthritis to Type II diabetes, dementia to Parkinson’s Disease, among others.

Dr. Fries concluded that most illnesses that we suffer from are chronic in nature, and, generally occur later in life.

He proposed that the economic and the traumatic consequences brought about by age-related disease could be minimized if we are able to postpone the exact time when Onset of Morbidity occurs and if this postponement “could be greater than increases in life expectancy.”

Increasing longevity, without increasing our healthspan, could have serious economic consequences for governments and families alike, since, in theory, this opens us up to additional diseases, treatments, drugs and hospitalizations, that society can little afford to pay as it is.

The current pharmaceutical model follows a Disease Approach Rationale: treat the diseases and symptoms as they come with modern medicine, and hopefully this will result in a longer lifespan.

This has in fact led to a significant increase in life expectancy since 1900, but it appears that we have hit a plateau from any benefits earned by this approach, as we have gained only about 30 years of life expectancy since the 1940s.

What’s worse, though as we are living longer, we’ve opened ourselves up to longer years of suffering since the Onset of Morbidity remains on average about 55 years of age, virtually unchanged since the 1980s.

So what can be done?  It is theorized that further healthy lifestyle changes such as getting proper nutrition, intermittent fasting, exercising regularly, not smoking and refraining from drugs and alcohol, can delay our Onset of Morbidity, increasing lifespan, and extend the healthspan.

But what about the suffering during the morbidity phase?

Even though the suffering period would, in theory, be shorter versus just a Disease Approach, it is still measured in a significant number of years.

This brings with it, the economic, personal, professional and familial hardships that we associate with declining health.

This is in part the driver which has sparked a race for researchers to find compounds that can increase healthspan, while simultaneously Compressing Morbidity to shorter periods of time.

Such compounds are the “Holy Grails” longevity research: we all want to live healthier, for longer periods of time, but limit suffering when it comes to the end of our lives.

Imagine what increasing the healthspan while Compressing Morbidity could mean for you and your loved ones…we would have the option to stay in the professional workforce well into our late seventies or older, maybe even starting a new career late in life if we so choose.

Compression of Morbidity Diagram

Compressed Morbidity

Or even better, we actually could get to enjoy our retirement, with our full faculties to experience more, travel more, take up new sports, or keep up with our grandchildren (and even great-grandchildren).

At the same time, we would be reducing the suffering associated with the long periods of withering away, sparing our friends and families the years of watching us grow in our misery and saddling them with the cost of care.

Data actually supports the view that the Compression of Morbidity is slowly occurring, but there is widespread agreement it needs to happen more rapidly.

In the forty years since Dr. Fries’ research was originally published, we have been able to add only five years to our life expectancy in the USA.

We are, on average, expected to live to 79 as opposed to 74 years old in 1980.  In the year 1900, our average life expectancy was 47 years old.

Likewise, life expectancy from those already reaching advanced age appears to be at its zenith, rather than continuing to increase as predicted by many.

Life expectancy in the USA of women who already reached the age of sixty-five, increased only 0.7 years since the 1980s, an insignificant gain to be felt by most.

Studies have documented the ability to marginally postpone the onset of disability through weight control, exercise, and refraining from smoking.

From 1982-1999, disability rates in the USA decreased by 2% per year, while mortality rates decreased only 1% per year.

Finally, randomized trials of programs to boost health in seniors, have shown reductions in health risks and medical care costs of 10 to 20 percent.

So progress has been made when looking at the statistics, but it is hardly meaningful to most.

But times seem to be changing. There is growing excitement that for the first time, one ingredient we can supplement in our diet, looks promising.

A private study sponsored at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, soon to be published in a major peer-reviewed scientific journal, coupled with ongoing research at the National University of Singapore, has demonstrated efficacy.

A proprietary form of Calcium Alpha-Ketoglutarate (Ca-AKG) has been shown in mammalian models to extend lifespan over 12%, healthspan over 41% and decreasing frailty by 46%, all the while compressing morbidity greater than 50%.

Those subjects in the treatment group fed Ca-AKG, not only lived longer, they were more social and had less incidence of frailty, inflammation, and graying/hair loss.

These mammals share over 85% of the same DNA code as humans, and if these experienced benefits can likewise be translated to humankind, it will be impossible to overstate the significance of this discovery.

For more information go to

Learn more about alpha ketoglutarate.


Fries JF. Aging, Natural Death, and the Compression of Morbidity. New England Journal of Medicine. 1980;303:130–35.

Francis Rogers Palmer III, M.D.

A world-renowned expert on aesthetics and facial shaping, Francis Rogers Palmer III, MD is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon with over 27 years of experience and author. He is an inventor of multiple medical products and devices. Dr. Palmer is an honors graduate of San Diego State University, and received his MD from the University of California – Irvine. He completed fellowships with the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.Dr. Palmer has appeared on ABC’s The View, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News, Dr. Phil, and Entertainment Tonight. He also has been featured in Allure, Fit, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, US Weekly, People, In Touch, The New York and Los Angeles Times. British magazine Tatler named him “one of the world’s best plastic surgeons.” He is the author of The Palmer Code, What’s Your Number? ®.

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