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Outline ReviewThis groundbreaking book should definitely help further the movement of what the authors call "a new gerontology." John Rowe, M.D., and Robert Kahn, Ph.D., both members of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network, thoroughly debunk the myth that aging has to be a painful process of debilitation. Their research has shown that the influence of genetics shrinks proportionately as you get older, while social and physical habits become increasingly integral to your state of health--both mental and physical. The 10 years' worth of research cited in Successful Aging reveal some flabbergasting facts about health in later life. For example, an inactive person is worse off, health-wise, than a smoker who exercises regularly. And your lifestyle and attitude are significantly more important than your genes in determining whether or not your golden years are healthy ones--even if you have a genetic predisposition for developing Alzheimer's, arthritis, cancer, or other serious health problems.
Rowe and Kahn start with a thorough breakdown of nutritional advice, including a rundown of the many vitamins and other nutrients that those older than 60 are in particular need of. They also detail the most important exercises for optimal functioning of body and mind, and analyze the benefits and risks of DHEA, melatonin, and tretinoin, while warning about snake-oil formulations that are now being marketed to the AARP set. There's also a thorough explanation of the importance of creativity and social connections--the research shows that, for the aging, strong social ties are even more important in preventing illness than genetic background.
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