New public policy & aging report highlights facts and fiction about anti-aging medicine

06/16/04

Can the aging process be decelerated or reversed and, if so, should it be? This scientific and moral quandary is investigated in detail in the Spring 2004 issue of the Public Policy & Aging Report, the quarterly publication of the National Academy on an Aging Society.

This installment of PP&AR includes 6 articles that address the scientific debates, social consequences, and ethical issues associated with the possible emergence of a "long-lived" society.

Case Western Reserve University Professor Robert Binstock begins the issue with an overview of the anti-aging medicine debate as it has played out in recent years - remarking on issues that would emerge in a society populated by the "prolonged old." Eminent biogerontologist Leonard Hayflick, of the University of California, San Francisco, shares the front page spotlight with Binstock by arguing that the key to longevity is not so much a matter of reversing the aging process, but rather confronting the diseases that are associated with - but separate from - fundamental aging.

The publication also features historian Carole Haber of the University of Delaware. She discusses the history of the search for the fountain of youth and documents how far back go concerns centered on the costs to support a frail older population. Case Western Reserve University's Eric Juengst and Roselle Ponsaran speak to the role of prevention in life prolongation, while Thomas Johnson of the University of Colorado at Boulder references genetic manipulation experiments on lower life forms, which might lead to increases in human life expectancy. Finally, ethicist Steven Post of Case Western Reserve University urges us to pursue anti-aging agendas in order to "invent a long-lived society in which we can retain our capacities more fully until death."

This publication is the first in a series of summer events designed to confront the hope and hype of anti-aging medicine. On June 23, The American Federation for Aging Research and The Gerontological Society of America are co-hosting a press briefing in New York City to coincide with the release of special sections in the June and July issues of The Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences. This month's The Gerontologist also features an article - based on research funded by the National Institute on Aging and The National Genome Research Institute - titled "Anti-aging Medicine: Can Consumers Be Better Protected?"

Source: Eurekalert & others

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