How Improved Longevity Could Affect Life Insurance Planning

Pink elephant in the sky with a watering can. Illustration

New medical findings may impact how advisors and fiduciaries can get the best results for their clients  

By Steven Zeiger
Waxman Lawson Financial

In 1977 epidemiologist, Richard Peto from Oxford University posed “the Elephant Paradox.” Peto theorized that a biological protective mechanism prevented cancer in elephants. Elephants are 100 times larger than humans.  Therefore, their cells have replicated 100 times more than humans, and each replication is a chance for a cancerous mutation.  According to Huntsman Cancer Institute’s oncologist Dr. Joshua Schiffman, “They (elephants) should all be dropping dead of cancer and going extinct. But they have less cancer (than humans).”1

If scientists could understand why elephants don’t get cancer, they could control or eliminate cancer in humans. This resulting increase in longevity would affect all aspects of insurance and investments.  Financial and estate planning strategies would need to be re-evaluated. Fortunately, scientists did solve the mystery in late 2015.