This short book provides an overview of biological aging theories including history, current status, major scientific controversies, and implications for the future of medicine. Major topics include: human mortality as a function of age, aging mechanisms and processes, the programmed vs. non-programmed aging controversy, empirical evidence on aging, and the feasibility of anti-aging and regenerative medicine.
Evolution theory is essential to aging theories. Theorists have been struggling for 150 years to explain how aging, deterioration, and consequent death fit with Darwin’s survival of the fittest concept. This book explains how continuing genetics discoveries have produced changes in the way we think about evolution that in turn lead to new thinking about the nature of aging.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a very good summary of current (2011) knowledge about the nature of aging and potential consequences for medicine. There are two schools of thought: The programmed aging school thinks we are designed to age and have a limited life span as the result of some sort of biological life span regulation mechanism. The non-programmed school thinks human aging is the result of mechanical or chemical aging. Experimental evidence described in the book seems to favor programmed aging. Evolutionary arguments, also discussed, have been produced by both schools. Why should we care? The author points out that most people will eventually die of some "age-related" disease such as cancer and that our ability to devise ways to treat or prevent such diseases is at least to some extent dependent on our understanding of the aging process. The plausibility of altering or delaying aging is much greater if aging is programmed but still possible according to many non-programmed researchers. The book provides interesting commentary on social influences as well as technical aspects of aging research.