The bottom line still seems to be, ""You can't fool mother nature."" But, as this fascinating book demonstrates, there have...


"CHEATING TIME: Science, Sex, and Aging"

The bottom line still seems to be, ""You can't fool mother nature."" But, as this fascinating book demonstrates, there have been plenty of attempts to do just that. Indeed, Gosden's report on past and present attempts to understand and delay aging is full of delicious accounts of the benighted scientists and clever charlatans who have purveyed one rejuvenating therapy after another--from injections, monkey gland operations, and urine-drinking to today's hormone cocktails and anticipated gene therapy. There is much here for students of medical fads and fallacies. Before focusing on spurious elixirs, Gosden (Reproductive Biology/Univ. of Leeds, England) provides a feast of facts and theories that have colored (and sometimes tainted) gerontology. Here the reader will learn about the wide variation in aging across species, the association of sex and death in some, and the many theories (from high basal metabolism rates to the presence of free radicals in cells) spun to explain senescence in humans. Gosden speculates on how aging may have come about as a side effect of natural selection and evolution, possibly as a result of multipurpose (pleiotropic) genes that may confer an advantage in youth but prove detrimental in age. Interestingly, Gosden's survey of aging among a number of species seems to suggest that being relatively large, having a big brain, and possessing the ability to fly all favor longevity! While Gosden provides evidence that estrogen replacement therapy may well protect against heart disease and osteoporosis in women, and opines that testosterone may find its way into the male pharmacopeia, there are enough caveats against assuming that an easy solution to aging is at hand. The net result of this prodigious assemblage of facts and fancy is to humble the reader: There's much we still don't know about aging. It's reassuring to discover from Gosden's lively overview of research that there are some able scientists out there who are giving gerontology a good name.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 1996


Page Count: 404

Publisher: Freeman

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1996

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