Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Debate: Is Aging a Reversible Disease?

Do you consider aging to be a disease? This notion grabbed our attention in this debate highlighted in the National Post (and debated in full in the podcast Munk Debates). In it, David Sinclair makes the case that disease is a condition that leads to disability, deterioration of function and loss of mobility over time. And while we easily can call out diseases we are familiar with, the process of getting older, which results in a similar condition as disease, we refer to as aging.

For the sake of the debate, Sinclair—who is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School—takes the stance that a broader view of aging is called for, and positions it as a disorder (N.B. They also point out that the World Health Organization has classified old age as a medical condition.)

And if some diseases (or disorders) can be cured or reversed, is aging the reversible? In a study they conducted published in the journal Nature, they indeed were able to reverse cells from a mouse back to being young.

On the other hand, Joanna Masel (who is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona) looks at aging from the angle of your body’s aging cells still working, however the cells have developed—thanks to aging—the tendency for the cells to be working against you (such as with cancer).

Dive into their fascinating debate here and be sure to check out You Are UNLTD’s White Coat Debates, in which experts have discussed everything from whether food is medicine to how pharmacists can best manage the relationship with well-informed healthcare consumers.

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