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Dr. Fossel has written a groundbreaking book that takes readers inside the intimate science of aging, explaining how it starts and how it cascades through the body. He also provides a startling, up-close look at amazing advances which have been brought about by DNA and genetic study and tells how they will affect the future of our world.
Fossell (Clinical medicine/Michigan State Univ.) foresees a wonderful future in which not only will human aging be reversed but cancer will be vanquished and heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's prevented. The key, it seems, is learning how to manipulate the clock of aging, which has now been identified as the telemere, the end segment of DNA on chromosomes. Fossell reports that in the laboratory researchers have been able to reset the telemeric clock in cells. Next, he says, will come development of safe and effective means of doing so in human beings. He cheerfully predicts that within the next ten years telemerase inhibitors, which prevent cells from dividing, will provide a cure for cancer, and by the year 2015 telemerase inducers, which keep cells from aging and thus prevent degenerative diseases, will be available. Fossell devotes most of his text to explaining the basic mechanisms of aging on the cellular level, and he does this adroitly, using black-and-white drawings, simple analogies, and plain English. The consequences of a greatly enhanced life span (the actual number of years remains uncertain) are far less thoroughly considered. The author's predictions of how society might be transformed are diverting but simplistic, touching lightly on, among other things, population growth, the economy, retirement, education, the environment, marriage and the family, and crime and punishment. While acknowledging that there will be some problems, or "growing pains," as he calls them, his view is decidedly rosy, almost Panglossian.
Valuable for its lucid explanations of current knowledge about aging, and entertaining in its speculations about the future.
We will be able to prevent, even reverse, aging within two decades. At the same time, and as part of the same process, we will also cure most of the diseases that now frighten and destroy us. Cancer, a disease in which malignant cells refuse to age, will be among the first to go. Instead of being a source of terror and tragedy, it will become a bad memory, an inconvenience. Diseases that we think of as part of growing old could soon disappear. By profoundly increasing our "health span," we will also increase the human life span. When we do, we will change human society in ways we will applaud, ways we will regret, and ways we cannot foresee. This book is the story of how we are conquering aging and of what the consequences will be. It is the story of our hopes and our fears, and of change that will soon shake our world. We are about to change history forever.
Excerpted from Reversing Human Aging. Copyright © 1996 by Michael Fossel, Ph.D., M.D.