An optimistic exploration of aging.
“No matter where you live in the world,” writes British science writer Steele, “you’re very likely to live long enough to experience the frailty, loss of independence and diseases associated with getting old.” The astounding doubling of life expectancy since 1800 (from 40 years to 80) has occurred without any treatment for aging. All advances, including sanitation, better diet, and vaccines, have focused on preventing premature death. Yet tortoises and many other coldblooded animals display “negligible senescence”: Their bodies don’t seem to deteriorate with age. Amazingly, a few life forms possess “negative senescence.” Long regarded as an inherent feature of life, aging did not capture the interest of scientists until the 1990s, but then matters moved quickly. Readers searching for secrets of long life must absorb Steele’s explanations of the hallmarks of aging, but it’s worth the wait to understand the sad litany: DNA damage, malfunctioning mitochondria, deterioration of our bacterial microbiome, declining immunity, disappearing telomeres, etc. In a long section on preventing or reversing aging with drugs, transplants, procedures, and genetic manipulations, the author shows how many succeed—in the lab and small human studies. Dietary restriction, currently popular, works less well in large animals than in organisms like worms, but drugs that mimic the effect are in development. A diligent scientist, Steele does not ignore flops and fads; antioxidants flopped, but health food enthusiasts have not lost faith. The author concludes with a list of proven life-extenders, few of which will surprise readers—e.g., don’t smoke, exercise, get vaccinated, take care of your teeth. Furthermore, “don’t bother with supplements,” and “don’t bother with longevity drugs—yet.” Science will eventually explain any phenomenon that obeys natural laws. The mechanism of aging obeys, so scientists will get there eventually. Once that happens, achieving a much longer life will be a matter of technology.
Good science in service of a convincing case that vast life extension is inevitable.
During medical school we were taught that aging is a natural process and that people can simply die of old age. The thinking was that age wasn’t just a turning of the clock but an accumulation of mutations, cancer, arthritis, heart disease and dementia. Have you ever wondered, however, if it was possible to address those diseases not just individually, but collectively, by addressing the underlying process of aging itself. Sound far fetched? Well, It’s this audacious way of thinking that propelled Andrew Steele to write Ageless. In this new book, Steele highlights therapies being developed to stymie aging, from rebooting the immune system to repairing DNA to removing senescent cells. This is a fascinating look at how scientists are working to help doctors treat not just one disease at a time, but the aging process itself, helping us all to lead longer, healthier lives.”
–Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN
“Writing with the vim of a Bill Bryson and the technical knowledge of a scientist, Steele gives us a chance to grasp what’s at stake in this dazzling, daunting age where big data meets human biology”
“Whether or not readers are persuaded that ageless humans could ever be more than a theoretical possibility—and it is a stretch—this book will convince them that discounting the theoretical possibility altogether is based on nothing but prejudice. . . [Scientists] have many tools at their disposal, [and Steele] evaluates them expertly and with verve.”
“Entertaining and thoughtful. . . if, as Mr. Steele contends, 'tortoises get old without getting elderly,' might we not master 'biological immortality' and become ageless too? . . . we may all need to start planning for a fundamentally different future.”
–The Wall Street Journal
“We assume that ‘getting older’ inevitably means ‘getting old,’ with all the increased frailty and diminished vitality we associate with advancing age. But getting on in years doesn't have to mean becoming elderly, Steele argues – and in his new book, Ageless, he does a surprisingly effective job of decoupling the two.”
–The New York Times Book Review
"People are living longer, staying healthier longer and accomplishing things late in life that once seemed possible only at younger ages. . . Andrew Steele . . . describes a series of experimental interventions designed to slow biological processes that are part of aging."
–David Brooks, The New York Times
"I heartily recommend this one. It’s modest in scope, and generous in detail. . . honest and optimistic."
–The Telegraph (U.K.)
"As Steele admits, ‘treating ageing sounds like science fiction’. . . But, after you’ve read Ageless, and heard about the latest developments in ageing biology, it begins to sound more like science fact."
–The Daily Mail (U.K.)
“Ageless is a rich and exciting exploration of that surprisingly intriguing topic we’d rather not talk about: old age.”
–The Irish Times
“An optimistic exploration of aging. . . A diligent scientist, Steele does not ignore flops and fads. . . Good science in service of a convincing case that vast life extension is inevitable.”
“Steele succeeds in bringing some of the ethical and policy issues surrounding the field of biogerontology [into] this thorough, yet accessible narrative. . . A solid read for those interested in biological sciences research, and anyone looking to learn more about aging in general.”
“Rejuvenation biotechnology is coming, but not rapidly enough. Ageless is an outstanding, totally accessible exposition of why aging can and should be understood as a medical problem, and of how the world’s leading medical researchers are solving it. An absolute tour de force, it will surely save many lives by inspiring new recruits to join this crusade.”
Aubrey de Grey, Chief Science Officer and co-founder of the SENS Research Foundation
“In his book Ageless, Andrew Steele describes how the field of aging biology moved from hope to promise. This is a masterful road map for interested lay people, scientists at large and also geroscientists like myself I was surprised how much I learned.”
–Nir Barzilai, M.D., founding director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and author of Age Later: Health Span, Life Span and the New Science of Longevity
“An essential book for anyone interested in the fast-developing science of longevity.”
–Jim Mellon, Chairman of Juvenescence
“Ageless is a fascinating, stimulating and pleasingly practical guide to the science of aging and how we might be able to bend the arrow of biological time to improve our health.”
–Kat Arney, author of Rebel Cell: Cancer, Evolution and the Science of Life
“Few issues can be more important for our future than ensuring we age as well as possible. Ageless explains the extraordinary achievements and promise of current scientific research around longevity. Read it and prepare to think differently about your future.”
–Andrew Scott, Professor of Economics, London Business School and co-author of The 100 Year Life
“An immensely important book. Steele surveys the biology of human ageing, as well as the cutting-edge research on how to prevent it. The first person to achieve immortality may already have been born. Is it you?!”
–Prof. Lewis Dartnell, author of Origins
“Consulting most of the experts in this surprisingly tiny field, Andrew Steele, a young 'big-data' guru himself, has crafted a rigorous yet enjoyably readable, spell-binding tale which never gets old (and impacts nearly all morbidity and mortality). After centuries of false starts, this project seems to finally have traction toward powerful medicines.”
George Church, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School