The Paradox of Life
by Robin Holiday
Looking for an above average introduction to what aging is all about? We recommend that you try reading Aging: The Paradox of Life by Robin Holliday, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Springer 2007.
Robin Holliday obtained his Ph.D in genetics from Cambridge University, England. Quoting from Wikipedia : "Robin Holliday proposed a mechanism of DNA-strand exchange that attempted to explain gene-conversion events that occur during meiosis in fungi.
That model first proposed in 1964 is now known as the "Holiday Junction." He and his colleagues also studied possible mechanisms of the senescence of diploid human cells in culture, and their immortalization.
In 1975 he suggested with his student John Pugh that DNA methylation could be an important mechanism for the control of gene expression in higher organisms, and this has now become documented as a basic epigenetic mechanism in normal and also cancer cells.
This 132 page book consists of 16 chapters, a list of scientific references and a glossary of terms used in the book. The topic is of interest to everyone. The book deals with the misinformation surrounding the process of aging.
Using nontechnical terms, the author cogently explains basic concepts in cellular biology and physiology, presents multiple theories of aging including somatic mutations with changes in DNA molecules, loss of mitochondrial function, accumulation of abnormal proteins, waning of the immune system, damage to DNA and other cellular components due to oxygen free radicals, failure of the neuroendocrine and homeostatic systems, and progressive loss of telemeres.
There is a review of the various treatment modalities used to slow down the process of aging (e.g. human growth hormone, melatonin, and dehydroepiandrosterone). Others, which this reviewer was not familiar with, included intestinal flora of carp, injection of sheep fetal cells, kinetin and carnosine. But apparently, the defining factor of long life appears to be good luck (chance events) i. e. avoiding fatal injuries.
There is an excellent discussion on calorie-restricted diet that in the rat extends the life span 50%. He also notes that if human life were disease free, life expectancy would only increase 15 years.
The book is well organized and easy to read, and its contents are presented clearly, concisely an in a clinically pertinent way. It serves as an excellent beginning for anyone in need of education about the process of aging.
FOR AN INFORMATIVE AND PERSONAL ARTICLE ON PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS WHEN SELECTING A NURSING HOME SEE OUR ARTICLE "HOW TO SELECT A NURSING HOME"
Harold Rubin, MS, ABD, CRC, Guest Lecturer
posted November 19, 2007
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