Can You Avoid Aging?
“Seventy years is all we have—eighty years, if we are strong; . . . life is soon over, and we are gone.”—PSALM 90:10, TODAY’S ENGLISH VERSION.
IMAGINE always enjoying the prime of life. Imagine vigorous health and keenness of mind that never fade. Does such a delightful prospect sound like fantasy to you? Then consider this curious fact: Although some species of parrots can live up to a hundred years, mice rarely live more than three. Such diverse life spans have led some biologists to reason that aging must have a cause and that if aging has a cause, it may have a cure.
The search for an effective treatment for aging has attracted investment from drug companies. In addition, for people born after the second world war and now entering their 60’s, finding a way to slow down aging has become a personal concern.
The study of aging has also become a major priority for numerous researchers in genetics, molecular biology, zoology, and gerontology. The book Why We Age, by Steven Austad, says: “There is a subdued but palpable excitement in the air now when gerontologists meet. We are closing in on the fundamental processes of aging.”
Ideas to explain aging abound. One view is that aging results from wearing out; another is that aging is programmed. Some say that the answer involves both ideas. How well is the aging process understood? Is there reason to expect an effective treatment for aging?
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APPROXIMATE LIFE SPANS
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Some parrots can live 100 years, but humans live about 80 years. Researchers ask: “What causes aging?”