Author(s): Harman D
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Abstract Aging is the accumulation of changes responsible for the sequential alterations that accompany advancing age and the associated progressive increases in the chance of disease and death. Average life expectancies at birth in the developed countries are now approaching plateau values as the aging changes associated with the environment and disease near irreducible levels. The inborn aging process is now the major risk factor for disease and death after around age 28 in the developed countries and limits average life expectancy at birth to approximately 85 years. Future significant increases in average life expectancy--a rough measure of the healthy, productive life-span, i.e., the functional life-span--in these countries will be achieved only by slowing the rate of production of aging changes by the aging process. Many theories have been advanced to account for the aging process. The free radical theory of aging is discussed briefly. The importance attached to increasing the functional life-span dictates that aging hypotheses be explored for practical means of achieving this goal while work continues toward a consensus on the cause(s) of the aging process. Efforts to further increase the functional life-span by conventional measures are now almost futile, whereas those directed toward slowing the aging process are just beginning. These new efforts show promise.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Biochemistry & Physiology: Open Access