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The Quest for Immortality: Science at the Frontiers of Aging

Place of Publication: 
New York

Scientists in recent years have uncovered dramatic new clues to why we age; how we can postpone, treat, and in some cases avoid a wide variety of aging-related diseases and disorders; and how we can live longer and healthier lives. Yet, much of the news that reaches us is hype. Can growth hormone or melatonin actually reverse aging? Are antioxidants really a fountain of youth? Can enough fruits and vegetables or meditation enable us to develop ageless bodies and live a century or more? S. Jay Olshansky and Bruce A. Carnes, leading research scientists in the fields of aging and biodemography, separate fact from fiction in this important new book. Medical technology already allows us to prevent and overcome a dizzying array of illnesses that once were inevitably debilitating or deadly, and researchers are delving even further into the roots of aging, exploring patterns of damage and repair down to the cellular level and launching into the incredibly exciting but also frightening biomedical frontier of genetic engineering. What does all this mean for each of us? Progress in the field of medicine has been breathtaking, but much of the cutting-edge research has been hidden away in academic journals or distorted and oversimplified by the media. Further, many discoveries about disease and aging have been exaggerated or blatantly misrepresented by peddlers in the multi-billion-dollar longevity industry. The Quest for Immortality makes clear the difference between science and pseudoscience. Even more important, the authors carefully distinguish between the foolish quest simply to prolong life and the true dream we all share: to live long lives while remaining independent and in good health. Olshansky and Carnes lift from our shoulders the burdens of vitamin vigilance, lifestyle crazes, and other fallacious schemes that some would have us believe are necessary for a long, healthy life. In their prescription for the twenty-first century, they offer us a positive -- and accurate -- understanding of health, disease, and aging that will maximize both the length and the quality of our lives. (Publisher)