Letters

There is no such thing as ageing

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7143.1531 (Published 16 May 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1531

Ageing has been defined as to grow or make old

  1. D E B Powell, Retired consultant pathologist
  1. Ogmore by Sea, Bridgend CF32 OPT
  2. Clinical Trial Service Unit, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford OX2 6HE

    EDITOR—In an effort to delay my own ageing process, I have struggled to understand Peto and Doll's argument that there is no such thing as ageing.1 Their case seems to be predicated on their second paragraph, where they assert: “What the major diseases of adult life have shared for tens of millions of years is a common set of evolutionary pressures tending to relegate them to old age…. Natural selection acts much more strongly against death in early adult life than against death in old age.”1

    Apart from this being a circular argument, which in its conclusion is more of a description than an explanation, it fails to account for some facts. Thus, if the underlying mechanism is an evolutionary one …

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