Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.


All chapters
Previous chapter Next chapter

CHAPTER 2

Aging: Natural or Disease? A View from Medical Textbooks

According to medical tradition, aging coincides with illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease, yet is itself a ‘normal’, ‘natural’ and non-pathological process. From this perspective, anti-aging drugs are more akin to cosmetics and mind-altering drugs than to treatments in the medical sense. Yet, arguably, this traditional view of aging is incorrect. Senescence manifests as a broad spectrum of deteriorative changes, leading to debilitating and ultimately fatal pathologies. It makes little sense to speak of healthy or normal senescence: the entire process is characterized by pathology. Anti-aging drugs as a preventative approach to delay senescence fall very much within the medical remit. In this chapter we ask: Do doctors really think that aging is not a disease? And if so, why do they think this? To address the latter, we ask: What are medical students taught about the relationship between aging and disease? To this end, we analyze the contents of 14 widely used, standard textbooks of general medicine. The results suggest a general neglect of the question of what aging is, unease about the somewhat arbitrary classification of different manifestations of senescence as normal or pathological, and the absence of any rationalization of the concept of normal aging. Our findings suggest that medicine remains in the dark about aging.

Publication details


Print publication date
01 Feb 2017
Copyright year
2017
Print ISBN
978-1-78262-435-6
PDF eISBN
978-1-78262-660-2
ePub eISBN
978-1-78262-985-6
From the book series:
Drug Discovery