Experts say slowing aging is way to fight diseases in 21st century

July 9, 2008

A group of aging experts from the United States and the United Kingdom suggest that the best strategy for preventing and fighting a multitude of diseases is to focus on slowing the biological processes of aging. The analysis is published on BMJ.com.

"The traditional medical approach of attacking individual diseases -- cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease -- will soon become less effective if we do not determine how all of these diseases either interact or share common mechanisms with aging," says S. Jay Olshansky, professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and senior author of the commentary.

Middle-aged and older people are most often impacted by simultaneous but independent medical conditions. A cure for any of the major fatal diseases would have only a marginal impact on life expectancy and the length of healthy life, Olshansky said.

The authors suggest that a new paradigm of health promotion and disease prevention could produce unprecedented social, economic and health dividends for current and future generations if the aging population is provided with extended years of healthy life.

They note that all living things, including humans, possess biochemical mechanisms that influence how quickly we age and, through dietary intervention or genetic alteration, it is possible to extend lifespan to postpone aging-related processes and diseases.

Further research in laboratory models is expected to provide clues and deeper understanding of how existing interventions, such as exercise and good nutrition, may lead to lifelong well-being.

The authors also propose greatly increased funding for basic research into the "fundamental cellular and physiological changes that drive aging itself."

"We believe that the potential benefits of slowing aging processes have been underrecognized by most of the scientific community," said Olshansky. "We call on the health-research decision-makers to allocate substantial resources to support and develop practical interventions that slow aging in people."

An increase in age-related diseases and escalating health care costs makes this the time for a "systematic attack on aging itself," the authors write.

Olshansky and colleagues contend that modern medicine is already heavily invested in efforts to extend life, and they argue that a fresh emphasis on aging has the potential to improve health and quality of life far more efficiently than is currently possible.

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago

Explore further: Drastic changes in regional life expectancy disparities in Germany

Related Stories

Is your fear of radiation irrational?

July 14, 2015

Bad Gastein in the Austrian Alps. It's 10am on a Wednesday in early March, cold and snowy – but not in the entrance to the main gallery of what was once a gold mine. Togged out in swimming trunks, flip-flops and a bath ...

Leveraging the Internet's unique data repositories

July 10, 2015

Sometimes, data doesn't look like data. But when circumstances conspire and the right researchers come along, interesting facets of human nature reveal themselves. Last.fm and World of Warcraft are two entities made possible ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.