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Anti-, Pro- or Healthy-Ageing?


Suresh Rattan
Editor-in-Chief, Biogerontology, Laboratory of Cellular Ageing, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, Denmark


Is ageing a disease that needs to be treated with anti-ageing therapies, or should ageing be considered a consequence of life and its imperfect processes of maintenance and repair, which can be modulated to some extent. A promising healthy ageing approach is that of hormesis through repeated exposure to mild stress. Physical and mental exercise, spices and micronutrients, and mental and social challenges are possible hormetins for maintaining health and enjoying healthy old age

We, the biogerontologists, are divided in two groups. 

One group labels ageing and old age as a disease, and so supports the notion of “anti-ageing” for the treatment or prevention of such a universal disease. The other group, with which I identify myself, considers ageing as a continuum of life processes, and advocates its effective management and embracing. There is yet another group, not of biogerontologists but of some existentialist philosophers, puritans and their likes, who even consider ageing and old age as the prime driver of human creativity and meaning of life embedded in the brevity and finitude of life. They are the pro-ageing ones. 

Whereas the rhetoric “waging war against ageing” or “eliminating ageing” can be attractive for its money-making perspective, this often disregards the hard-gained understanding of the biological and evolutionary basis of ageing. Biogerontological research performed during the last half-century has shown that there are no definitive and deterministic causes of ageing. The very act of living carries with it the seeds of its ultimate demise. Numerous free radicals and other reactive oxygen species formed on b ...

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