Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"Aging: The Paradox of Life: Why We Age" -- New Book Review

Dear All,

I am pleased to share with you some excerpts from our new book review, which is just published this month by the scientific journal "The Quarterly Review of Biology," September 2008, vol. 83, no. 3, pp. 325-326. :

Aging: The Paradox of Life: Why We Age
by Robin Holliday , Springer, 2007

"This is a short popular book written by a famous geneticist and biogerontologist. The author is a retired professor notable for his classic studies of genetic recombination, with a DNA intermediate now known as the “Holliday structure” (or “Holliday junction”).

In just 132 pages, he presents to general readers his personal understanding of the biological aging process, its multiple causes, evolution of aging and longevity, interspecies differences in life span, the number of genes involved in human aging and longevity, modulation of aging and life extension, determinants of human longevity, and many other topics, such as the origin of religion and human warfare.

This broad discussion of so many different topics is supported by a very short bibliography (just one page), which may be appropriate for the general public, but will create an impression of some incompleteness for more sophisticated readers.

The volume is useful in dispelling a myth of “healthy” aging unrelated to diseases, as the author argues convincingly that separation of age-related diseases and biological aging is not possible even at the theoretical level, because of strong interactions between these processes.

Discussion of the evolution of aging is somewhat outdated and simplistic, because too much emphasis is made on the disposable soma theory and tradeoffs between longevity and reproduction, without discussing new accumulated facts contradicting this theory.

Many readers will be surprised to learn from this book that further significant extension of human life is neither possible, nor desirable. These conservative views do not represent a current consensus of the gerontological scientific community, and no convincing arguments are presented to support them. Still, it is useful to know the author's position on this hotly debated topic of the future of human longevity.

Overall, this volume may be of interest to the general public, as it helps to balance the current bold optimistic expectations for the future of human life span and life extension with a healthy dose of skepticism.

It would be also strongly recommended that any future edition of this book contains an expanded bibliography, and deeper discussions of the scientific topics and supporting evidence, in addition to the personal views of the author."

Leonid A. Gavrilov, Ph.D.
Natalia S. Gavrilova, Ph.D.
Center on Aging
NORC and the University of Chicago

Published in The Quarterly Review of Biology,
September 2008, vol. 83, no. 3, pp. 325-326.


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-- Leonid

-- Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D.
Website: http://longevity-science.org/
Blog: http://longevity-science.blogspot.com/
My books: http://longevity-science.org/Books.html

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