Theories of Aging
Theories of Aging

Theories of Aging


Philosophers and scientists have long been studying experimental evidence and using observations of the natural world to try to develop a theory or theories explaining why and how we age. As late as 1990, researcher Zhores Medvedev tried to categorize more than 300 theories of aging. More recently, scientists have started to come to a consensus about why we age. They have also narrowed the specifics of what affects how we age down to several significant, and likely complementary, hypotheses.

The pursuit of a successful theory of aging is more than just an intellectual exercise. Knowing the mechanisms behind the human body's decline may help lead us to interventions in age related diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and kidney failure. In the long run, that will mean longer, fuller, healthier lives for large numbers of people and ultimately may mean drastically lower medical costs and the end of enfeeblement in old age.

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Last reviewed November 2011
Reviewer: Steven N. Austad, PhD, Professor, Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, University of Texas


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