The Compression of Morbidity School of Thought
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This interview with Leonard Hayflick is illustrative of the thinking of gerontologists who aim not to extend human life (in this case because because he thinks it's an implausible goal) but to shorten the period of age-related disability. It's a view very much at odds with reliability theory, which suggests that any reduction in ongoing damage will extend healthy life, and with the many demonstrated extensions of lifespan in animals. "The facts are these. There are four aspects to the finitude of life: aging, longevity determination, age-associated diseases, and death. Aging is what we call a catabolic process - the breakdown of molecules. Longevity determination is the reverse - the repair or maintenance of molecules. Aging gets confused with longevity determination. The aging process increases vulnerability to age-associated diseases. These concepts are distinguishable from each other and fundamentally different. ... You cannot learn about the fundamental biology of aging by studying disease processes. Resolving age-associated diseases tells us nothing about the fundamental biology of aging, just as the resolution of childhood diseases, such as polio and childhood anemia, did not tell us one iota about childhood development."

Link: http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=22954

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