Since ancient times, aging has been viewed as simply inevitable, unstoppable, nature’s way. But a growing number of scientists are questioning our basic conception of aging. In David Sinclair, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, view, aging is simply a pathology—and, like all pathologies, can be successfully treated. Imagine if aging was a curable disease, the demand for this treatment will be in high demand.
Policymakers and medical professionals need to do more to prevent chronic diseases of old age by encouraging people to adopt healthier lifestyles while they are still young or middle-aged. Another common objection to the aging-as-a-disease hypothesis is that labeling old people as diseased will add to the stigma they already face. Reclassifying aging as a disease could have another big benefit, it would provide a way to crack down on quack anti-aging products. The future may involve not just geoengineering but also gero-engineering. One thing that may underlie the growing calls to reclassify aging as a disease is a shift in social attitudes.
Researchers characterizes aging as the accumulation of deleterious changes across the body, ranging from shifts in the populations of bacteria that live in the gut to differences in the degree of chemical scarring on our DNA. These are biological measures that can be tracked, so they can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of anti-aging drugs.
The WHO declined the inclusion of aging was a curable disease in its official International Classification of Diseases, ICD-11, but it did listed “aging-related” as an extension code that can be applied to a disease, to indicate that age increases the risk of getting it.