Why aging is an unnatural process? An argument from Atul Gawande

There is a formulation of the argument on why aging should be considered as an unnatural process by Atul Gawande in the current The Way We Age Now report in The New Yorker:
“..scientists do not believe that our life spans are actually programmed into us. After all, for most of our hundred-thousand-year existence—all but the past couple of hundred years—the average life span of human beings has been thirty years or less. (Research suggests that subjects of the Roman Empire had an average life expectancy of twenty-eight years.) Today, the average life span in developed countries is almost eighty years. If human life spans depend on our genetics, then medicine has got the upper hand. We are, in a way, freaks living well beyond our appointed time. So when we study aging what we are trying to understand is not so much a natural process as an unnatural one.”

Update: Derya Unutmaz‘s critic of this argument on FightAging! and more: “This is gross misconception. The reason why the average life span was so low was because most of the deaths occurred during childhood and through infections during adulthood. If one corrects for the infection survival and looks at life expectancy at older age, there has only been about 6-8 years increase in overall life extension in the last 100 years. Thus, the data strongly argues for biological program of aging, and that at current time we are not yet freaks living much beyond our appointed time, just that many more of us reaching the near maximal set program.”

8 thoughts on “Why aging is an unnatural process? An argument from Atul Gawande

  1. I suppose you could say that aging is an unnatural process so long as genetic engineering and advanced medical techniques are taken into account. But are genetic engineering and advanced medical techniques “natural?” If these are not natural, as I would submit, then maybe aging is a natural process.

  2. I studdy genetics and biotecnology, and aging is natural, maybe is a desease that all living things got in the beggining of life, that had spread, anyway aging is a genetic mistake, due to progressive loss of telomeres, we get old, because cells just lost the genetic code to produce collagen for example, and our skin gets old, and so many things. Though we already found the way to stop aging, ethics just don’t agree with it, but i don’t care, i do my own private reserch and when everything is stable, and working well, take myself my therapy 😛
    How much would you pay to be immortal?

  3. Hi,
    Since free radicals have a positive charge could a suit of magnets worn behind a person work to pull them
    away from mitochondrian? Hopefully
    it would work and attention could
    be brought to a cure!

  4. A fascinating discussion. I tend to side on th belief that we are indeed able to extend life through science and research. It may be true that there is a minor difference when one accounts for infection, however, it hasn’t been all that long that we have been doing this sort of genetic research.

  5. Ken,

    An old post, but just a comment about using magnets. There are a number of holistic, magnetic devices (bracelets, rings etc) that are worn and tout some clinical benefits, which I doubt have ever been proven.

    I do work with a company called BioElectronics (http://fredcobio.wordpress.com/), that produces a clinically proven anti-edema product for soft tissue injuries called the ActiPatch. The theory is that it prevent cell wall leakage, by using electromagnetic pulses, which prevents edema and speed healing. I have used one and I will personally testify to it’s merits.

    Just wanted to let you know there are people looking at this.

    And to Health Freak, it has been known for some time (but admittedly only about 20 years) that viruses will transfer DNA they carry into their infected host. This is largely a benign activity, having no lasting effect. It is speculated that this process may play a significant role in some elements of evolution, supplying genes to a host that were lacking and thus providing an advantage (or equally possible ensuring their extinction).

  6. Anti aging skin care products help slow down the aging process and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, fine lines and other age related blemishes. Learn to fight the signs of aging with our natural and organic skin care products.

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