timely overview of the topical field of anti-aging
THE AGELESS GENERATION- How Advances in Biomedicine Will Transform the Global Economy by Alex Zhavoronkov. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, palgrave.com. 2013. 233+xiii pages. Hardcover ISBN 978-0-230-34220-0 charts, notes, index.
Zhavoronkov brings together the topical interests of aging, economics, and biomedicine including to some extent neuroscience to offer a way out of the dilemma of a growing aged population at a time of economic straits exacerbated by medical costs relating to the numbers of older persons. The author's solution is healthier older persons thus markedly reducing medical costs while at the same time enabling them to work, which would help them to keep better health by being physically, mentally, and socially active and also contribute to the economy. Few would argue that Zhavoronkov's solution is not the best answer to the dilemma. The economic part of his perspective and thus his solution seems a little weak in this time of recession with relatively high, chronic unemployment when many younger persons no matter what state of their health are having a rough time finding good jobs.
Despite coming up somewhat short on dealing with the economic complexities, the author's attention to the central importance and undeniably beneficial effects for both individuals in terms of living and also economics by significantly lowering medical spending is invaluable. This is one of those books that clarifies largely unformed, yet pressing concerns and ideas gestating in diverse areas of the culture. It offers relevant, common sense ideas for public policy. In the same framework of discussion, the book also relates information for general readers in the area of the biology and physiology of aging, much of which they can see applies to their own lives. For example, in writing how the brain deteriorates as one ages, the book implies practices that help to forestall these. For the general reader outside of the audience of politicians, policymakers, public-health officials, etc., the book is to some degree a self-help.
In keeping with the popular style surveying a field of topical interest while analyzing parts of the field, the book contains some information and topics new to most readers. "Autophagy" is probably one of these for most. This "alternative...anti-aging approach...breaks down old, aged cells and uses the raw material to grow healthy, youthful cells." Following brief discussion of the possibilities of this line of exploration for combatting aging and treating health issues, the author takes up new developments in Chinese medicine. Though such topics are little more than introduced since they are in the early stages of development, they indicate the diversity and breadth of the field of anti-aging ideas, experiments, and avenues. Regarding the topics of medical research and "retirement culture," the author relates a perspective and offers arguments for relevant action in addressing these pressing social situations.
Though not all will agree with all of Zhavoronkov's proposals or his somewhat utopian hopes regarding aging, the timely, multifaceted work from this author exceptionally knowledgeable about the field and active in it gives a welcome state-of-the-art, comprehensive picture of it.