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Evolution in Health and Disease$
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Stephen C. Stearns and Jacob C. Koella

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199207466

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207466.001.0001

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The evolutionary context of human aging and degenerative disease

The evolutionary context of human aging and degenerative disease

(p.301) Chapter 23 The evolutionary context of human aging and degenerative disease
Evolution in Health and Disease

Steven N. Austad

Caleb E. Finch

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews evidence on human aging. Humans are the longest-lived primate. Trade-offs modulate human life span. ‘Longevity genes’ that protect against disease may slow the aging processes in humans and in model organisms, but they are not at high frequency in human populations, probably because they reduce fitness in early life. Insights into their protective mechanisms could yield pharmaceuticals that extend human health, but close attention would have to be paid to side effects, for the effects on humans of genetic alterations that extend life in laboratory mice are not pleasant. Genetic alterations in the GH/IGF-I axis appear at best not to extend life and at worst to shorten it, with many detrimental impacts on health. It would help to have a small, short-lived, primate research model in which anti-aging therapies developed from mouse experiments could be evaluated before testing them on humans.

Keywords:   human aging, mechanisms, growth hormone, IGF-1, longevity genes, aging therapies

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