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

Jul 09, 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: Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A helping hand for pygmy hippos

Jan 21, 2015

Nobody knows how many pygmy hippos remain in wild habitats in West Africa, but there are only about 350 in captivity world-wide and a researcher at The University of Western Australia is in a race against ...

Health checks will be seated by Sharp

Dec 08, 2014

(Phys.org) —Sharp unveiled a news-making prototype of a sensor earlier this month at Semicon Japan 2014, which took place from Dec 3 to 5. As its title suggests, Sharp's "Blood Vessel Aging Degree Sensor" ...

Recommended for you

Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity

8 hours ago

As Africa's leaders meet in Ethiopia to discuss the Ebola crisis, expectations of firm action will be tempered by criticism over the continent's poor record in the early stages of the epidemic.

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

Jan 30, 2015

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

Jan 30, 2015

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

Jan 30, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments : 0

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.