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As recent articles about "the graying of America" suggest, a demographic revolution is well underway. The number of people living into extreme old age is increasing dramatically. By the year 2050 one in five of the world's population, including the developing countries, will be 65 or older, a fact which presages profound medical, biological, philosophical, and political changes in the coming century.
In Time of Our Lives, Tom Kirkwood unfolds some of the deepest mysteries of medical science while demolishing some of the most persistent misconceptions. He overturns the almost universally held belief that aging is either necessary or inevitable—it isn't—and debunks the idea that there exists a "death gene" that evolved to inhibit population growth. Instead, Kirkwood shows that we age because our genes, evolving at a time when life was "nasty, brutish, and short," placed little priority on the long-term maintenance of our bodies. With such knowledge, along with new insights from genome research, we can devise ways to target the root causes of aging and of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's and osteoporosis. Expanding his thesis of the "disposable soma," developed over twenty years of research, Kirkwood makes sense of the evolution of aging, explains how aging occurs, and answers fundamental questions like why women live longer than men. He even considers the possibility that human beings will someday have greatly extended life spans or even be free from senescence altogether.
Beautifully written by one of the world's pioneering researchers into the science of aging, Time of Our Lives is a clear, original and, above all, inspiring investigation of a process all of us experience but few of us understand.
The book contains black-and-white illustrations.
Preface The Funeral Season Attitudes to aging What's in a name?
Longevity records The unnecessary nature of aging Why aging occurs Cells in crisis Molecules and mistakes Organs and orchestras The cancer connection Menopause and the big bang Eat less, live longer Why do women live longer than men?
The Genie of the Genome In search of Wonka-Vite Making more time Epilogue Notes Bibliography Index