Turn back time
Susceptibility to disease grows as we age. Robert Butler and colleagues argue that interventions to slow down ageing could therefore have more benefit than targeting individual diseases
Many countries now have ageing populations and are facing an increased prevalence of age related diseases and escalating healthcare costs. However, if ageing is combined with extended years of healthy life, it could also produce unprecedented social, economic, and health dividends. In recent decades, scientists have shown that the underlying biological processes of ageing, which give rise to most diseases and other age related health problems, can be delayed. We argue that a concerted effort to slow ageing would provide a broad strategy for primary prevention that would greatly enhance and accelerate improvements in health at all ages.
Life expectancy at birth rose by a remarkable 30 years in developed countries during the 20th century, initially because of reductions in infant, child, and maternal mortality and then because of declining mortality in middle and old age.12 In 1900, about 40% of babies born in countries for which reliable data existed