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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Anatoly Bezkorovainy, JD, PhD (Rush Medical College of Rush University)
Description: This book contains a series of articles on aging and free radicals. Its basic premise is that free radical damage to biological structures contributes in a major way to the process of aging. It starts with a chapter summarizing the various theories of aging and ends with a chapter on anticipated future trends in free radical/aging research.
Purpose: The purpose is to breathe a new life into research on the aging process by bringing together the basic science discipline of free radical chemistry/biochemistry and the more applied field of aging research. The author succeeded only partially in achieving his objective. The book contains very little on the hard science of free radicals, although the free radical theory of aging is handled fairly thoroughly.
Audience: The book is apparently aimed at the researcher in gerontology, though its nontechnical nature makes it easy, though uninspired, reading for the nonexpert. The lack of hard science is a major shortcoming; one would have expected to see a thorough discussion of the chemistry and mechanism of action of such protective enzymes as superoxide dismutase, catalases, and peroxidases. This is not to be found.
Features: The book is spartan in appearance, but a more lavish production would not have added much to its substance. There is an ample number of black-and-white illustrations; the chapters are referenced well with the latest quotations from 1991; and there is a short index of limited use.
Assessment: The discipline of aging research is big on theories and sparse on hard data. This book is a reflection on this problem and a disappointment to the general reader. It was, for instance, frustrating not to see, even in a speculative fashion, a discussion of the mechanism of action of alpha-tocopherol, one of the most potent free radical antagonists known. The free radical theory of aging was not adequately connected up with phenomenon of increased longevity in calorie-restricted rodents. I can give this book only a tepid endorsement.