SAGE KE Bulletin Board
Anti-aging category definitions
14 July 2002
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%.
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
Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. ISSN 1539-6150