Challenging myths about aging

As populations age around the globe, leading to more chronic disease and human suffering, interest has surged in what causes aging and what might be done to alleviate its effects. But some myths about aging persist even though they haven’t been substantiated by science, according to biologist William Mair of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In a September 20, 2019 Washington Post opinion piece, Mair, associate professor of genetics and complex diseases, challenged five myths about aging, including: biological aging can’t be slowed; live fast, die young; antioxidants slow aging; fewer calories mean a longer life; and short telomeres explain aging.

Mair gave reasons why each of these ideas are likely wrong.

For example, Mair wrote that biological aging is “incredibly malleable,” and noted that there are many examples of animals that can live hundreds of years. He said that new scientific discoveries suggest that genetic alterations and medications may be able to slow aging rates.

As for calorie restriction, he said that scientists simply don’t know enough yet to say definitively whether it can slow aging.

Read the Washington Post opinion piece: Five myths about aging