Thursday, April 25, 2024

Scientist Challenges David Sinclair’s Best-Selling Book on Aging

Pointing out two questions on the back cover of Lifespan, Brenner answers them. The first is “is aging a disease?” Brenner’s answer is that aging is a risk factor for many diseases, but aging is not a disease itself. He follows by saying that the most powerful genetic mutations to extend lifespan in animal models have been in genes that control growth, establishing that growth and development are intricately linked with aging, suggesting that aging is inevitable. 

“Is aging treatable?” Yes, says Brenner, in the sense that genes can be modified to change the rate of aging. He says, however, that it is easier to accelerate aging — by doing things like smoking or becoming overweight — than it is to slow aging. He then comments on well-known studies showing that caloric restriction (consuming fewer calories) extends the lifespan of mice. These studies suggest that fasting can treat aging, but Brenner disagrees with their framing, saying, “Caloric restriction extends animal lifespan when compared to caged animals with constant access to food. However, it is more accurate to say that unrestricted access to food is a life-shortening condition that is unlike conditions in the wild to which animals are adapted.” 

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