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SAGE KE Bulletin Board

Anti-aging category definitions

14 July 2002

Tom Matthews

This is in response to Aubrey de Grey's post: "what is and is not right to call anti-aging medicine" of 3 July 2002. For the last 3 weeks on the newsgroup sci.life-extension, Aubrey and I have been engaged in a lengthy, intense and sometimes heated discussion of the issues surrounding this topic, including publication of a position paper in Scientific American and a letter in Science. We are have finally achieved something positive about which we can both fully agree (at least, I think so). Here is its current iteration (probably not the last):

Definitions of subsets of methods and therapies which are currently called "anti-aging" medicine:

1) Sham anti-aging medicine (SAAM) is that set of methods called "anti-aging" which applied individually or together to people over 50 effect at most cosmetic alterations.

2) Anti-morbidity medicine (AMM) is that set of methods called "anti- aging" which applied individually or together to people over 50 increase health and life quality, but with probably no more than on the order of a one-year increase in average lifespan.

3) Minimal anti-aging medicine (MAAM) is that set of methods called "anti-aging" which applied individually or together to people over 50 increase health and life quality, but with probably no more than on the order of a ten-year increase in average lifespan.

4) Radical anti-aging medicine (RAAM) is that set of methods called "anti-aging" which will probably increase health and life quality for the aged, and whose purpose is to increase average lifespan by at least 20%.

Amplification/explanation:
Because of the multifactorial nature of all aspects of aging, Hence, each category has explicitly stated the possibility of using all methods in the category at the same time, and such multiple methods are almost certainly necessary to achieve the upper range of effects defined by the category. Some definition of "aged" was needed, so I have somewhat arbitrarily used age 50 to separate the aged from the young (non-aged). This does not imply the some of the methods of AMM and MAAM are unnecessary before age 50, nor does it imply that all of them are necessary immediately after age 50.

These categories are neither fully inclusive of all possibilities for anti-aging, nor are they mutually exclusive. We could do this, but I think it would be more artificial and less useful. Item 1) includes quackery and anything else termed "anti-aging" which does not have the effects described in 2) through 4). Items 2) and 3) distinguish the relatively proven nature of the anti- morbidity effect and the relatively unproven (or yet to be proven) nature of the anti-mortality effect. Item 4) clearly states the unproven (because undeveloped) nature of radical life extension, but also clearly states its purpose.

I realized when I coined the phrase "Minimal Anti-Aging Medicine" with the acronym, MAAM, that I was leaving myself open to Aubrey or others to belittle it by occasionally calling it "Make-believe Anti-Aging Medicine". I decided to ignore that possibility and to hope for good will to prevail. Now let's get on with a principled way to get RAAM accomplished! --Tom Matthews


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Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. ISSN 1539-6150