How to prevent diseases of aging

By 2050, the number of people over the age of 80 will triple globally, which could come at great cost to economies. Medicine focuses almost entirely on fighting chronic diseases in a piecemeal fashion as symptoms develop, researchers say. Instead, efforts should be directed to promoting interventions that have the potential to prevent multiple chronic diseases and extend healthy lifespans.
By treating the metabolic and molecular causes of human aging, it may be possible to help people stay healthy into their 70s and 80s, they suggest. In a commentary published July 24 in Nature, the three experts call for moving forward with preclinical and clinical strategies that have been shown to delay aging in animals. In addition to promoting a healthy diet and regular exercise, these strategies include slowing the metabolic and molecular causes of human aging, such as the incremental accumulation of cellular damage that occurs over time.
The researchers, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Brescia University in Italy, the Buck Institute for Aging and Research and the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, write that unfortunately, economic incentives in biomedical research and health care reward treating disease more than promoting good health. “You don’t have to be a mathematician or an economist to understand that our current health care approach is not sustainable,” said first author Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and nutrition at Washington University and Brescia University. “As targeting diseases has helped people live longer, they are spending more years being sick with multiple disorders related to aging, and that’s expensive,”