LIFE EXTENSION: SCIENCE OR PIPE DREAM? Published by Harriet Hall under Book Review,Herbs & Supplements,Pharmaceuticals

In his new book The Youth Pill: Scientists at the Brink of an Anti-Aging Revolution, David Stipp tries to answer those questions. From the title of the book, I expected hype about resveratrol or some other miracle pill; but instead it is a nuanced, levelheaded, entertaining, informative account of the history and current state of longevity research. It makes that research come alive by telling stories about the people involved, the failures and setbacks, and the agonizingly slow process of teasing out the truth with a series of experiments that often seem to contradict each other.

We don’t even have a handle on why we die, why we deteriorate over time, or how it could benefit “selfish genes” for women to live past menopause. Several contradictory evolutionary explanations have been proposed. Comparisons with other species have not been helpful: every hypothesis has run up against counter-examples. Generally, the lifespan of animals correlates with body size; humans live longer for their size than expected. Some animals appear not to age.

Scientists hoped to find an aging gene that they could turn off. It’s not that simple. A large number of genes are involved in aging processes, and there are unpredictable interactions between them. Studying centenarians has provided inconsistent clues.

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*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*