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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good news about aging
I just finished reading "The Youth Pill" by my former colleague David Stipp. It's a terrific piece of science writing, and it's good news to boot. It shows that scientists are well on their way to developing pills that we can take daily in order to prolong the active, healthy part of our lives by ten years or so.
Full disclosure: David is a good friend and if I...
Published on July 22, 2010 by billinboston

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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite Informative and Interesting Subject
A very informative book on the subject of gerontology or the study of aging [senescence]. The book is inundated with facts, some important but many of a trivial nature. and, therein, lies its biggest problem. The book reads more like a college text or a review in NATURE or SCIENCE than a narrative for general consumption. But let there be no doubt that the author is...
Published on August 5, 2010 by D_shrink


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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good news about aging, July 22, 2010
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I just finished reading "The Youth Pill" by my former colleague David Stipp. It's a terrific piece of science writing, and it's good news to boot. It shows that scientists are well on their way to developing pills that we can take daily in order to prolong the active, healthy part of our lives by ten years or so.
Full disclosure: David is a good friend and if I didn't like the book, I wouldn't write about it. But I did and I will.
Stipp makes a believable case that researchers can create pills that create the same effects inside our cells that calorie restriction does. As has been repeatedly proved, animals that exist on low calorie diets -- at least one-third less than normal -- live 20% or more longer than their normally fed peers. This isn't unalloyed good news. Very few humans want to live on such restricted diets all their lives.
But calorie restriction doesn't make us live longer through some Calvinist trade-off of happiness for age. It makes us live longer because it changes certain processes in our cells. Stipp explains that the search for the youth pill involves understanding those mechanisms and then finding chemicals that will promote or block those processes.
Stipp is a terrific reporter and writer who makes the science feel accessible, even for those of us who last took biology before the chemical structure of RNA was decoded. He is particularly endearing when describing research subjects like naked mole rats, -- long lived, long-toothed African rodents that live in colonies underground -- and a worm called a nematode that is transparent and reveals "a rich inner life."
The book acknowledges that we're still some years away from having a youth pill. But it makes a strong case that one or more will be developed and they will do a lot more to prolong and improve our lives than curing cancer or heart disease ever will.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best introduction to the field of anti-aging, August 15, 2010
By 
bro "booksonscience" (Shreveport, LA United States) - See all my reviews
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I have now read three books on anti-aging research [(1) "Ending Aging" by DeGrey, (2) "Eternity Soup" by Critser, and now (3) "The Youth Pill" by Stipp]. Hands down,"The Youth Pill" is the best book out there today. This book succeeds where both DeGrey and Critser failed. Critser's book, in my opinion was an outright dud, providing little substantive information and an immature writing style to boot. DeGrey's book was very informative, but it mainly focused on DeGrey's own work and opinions, some of which are controversial, and in a few cases, scientifically outlandish. Stipp has written the most objective overview of the field, and has done a masterful job. For a business writer, Stipp is surprisingly accurate at describing the scientific history of this field. He gives credit to almost everyone who deserves it, without any overly positive or negative biases. The book is not too long, and each chapter is fulfilling (unlike DeGrey's and Critser's books). I congratulate this author on a fine addition to this field which should be THE FIRST book that anyone truly serious about getting a broad perspective on anti-aging research should read. Well done!
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite Informative and Interesting Subject, August 5, 2010
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A very informative book on the subject of gerontology or the study of aging [senescence]. The book is inundated with facts, some important but many of a trivial nature. and, therein, lies its biggest problem. The book reads more like a college text or a review in NATURE or SCIENCE than a narrative for general consumption. But let there be no doubt that the author is knowledgeable about his subject matter and has researched the area of discussion well.

For some background, the author begins with the premise that for all living species there is a trade-off between fertility and longevity, meaning the longer a species is expected to live the lower will be its fertility. As with humans who have a relatively long lifespan, females are normally expected to have one child at a time and for a relatively short period of their overall lifespan. As opposed to say insects, dogs or cats, who may lay hundreds or thousands of eggs for insects and have litters of 8 to twelve commonly for dogs and cats. Also the larger the animals mass the fewer offspring they NORMALLY have.

The author goes on to discuss mitochondria which are the key sites of free-radical formation [the types of things that anti-oxidant vitamins are supposed to help alleviate]. But the problem with mitochondria is that they developed as an invasive species of bacteria in cells several billion years ago. For their protection, they developed a protective barrier, so that the cell wouldn't kill them immediately. This is the reason that anti-oxidants don't work better than they do, as they can't pass through the mitochondrial layer.

Hormesis [the idea that even something that is bad for us taken or forced upon us in small doses that doesn't bring our demise will cause an organism to build up a tolerance or resistance to it and make the organism impervious or less likely to succumb to future insults from the same organism. This may be characterized in Fredrich Nietzsche's colloquy "What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger."

Some other interesting points were that centenarians are increasing in developing countries at a rate of approximately 7% annually versus an overall human lifespan increase of about 1% annually. It also seems that female centenarians outnumber male centenarians by a ratio of about 3 to 1. Another interesting point is that a lower body temperature and a decreased blood glucose level are two of the most important indicators of extended lifespans in humans.

However, the raison etre of the book is the discussion of resveratrol and calorie restricted diets [CR]. It seems that RESVERATROL is found in abundance in the skin of red grapes [think red wine for those oenophiles in the crowd]. It seems that it is one of the sirtuin boosters and the subject of much scientific study for the last seven years or so. The SIR of the word sirtuin stands for SILENT INFORMATION REGULATOR. It seems that there are several genetic variants of the Sirtis and the discussion gets bogged down IMHO about the founders of a company Sirtis which got bought out by Glaxo a few years ago for 720M, which seemed to be a minor focal point of the book. The background of the scientists involved, the various animal studies, and how this biological discovery was made takes up more time. You can buy resveratrol in some health food stores and on the internet. The biggest problem that I see with the pills commonly sold at present is that they are minuscule in dosage per kilogram of body-weight in comparison to what was used in the animal experiments. Therein lies the problem, in that the effects of resveratrol appear to be very much DOSAGE DEPENDENT.

There is much more to the story the author tells and about the discovery of resveratrol [it is not a drug as it is naturally produced in various vegetable matter] so can't be patented in its natural state as a drug. It can be patented if its form is changed slightly to supposedly make its action more efficacious.

I liked the information derived in the book, but I just felt it was filled with too much trivia and overly long. I think the scientifically minded will like it, but I do not think that most people wanting to sit down and read it in a couple of evenings are going to find the insight that they hoped to gain. It will take a little more research and understanding. But again, you won't know what you will gain if you don't read it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Youth Pill: Scientists at the Brink of an Anti-aging Revolution, December 21, 2010
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The author takes on complicated and fascinating issues and addresses them well. The book is well written, excellently referenced and easy to read; I read it in two evenings. I am a red wine aficionado so I read Chapter 9 first. This helped me navigate through the rest of the book with a greater understanding than if I had started with Chapter 1. The difficulty in writing about the topic of the book is that new insights into aging are uncovered every day. This means that any book written on the topic, including this book, is obsolete before it is published.

I recommend to the book to anyone interested in the topic...and who isn't.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little too much..., April 20, 2011
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The book is written well but it was written more in a textbook format. The subject is throughly discussed but the confusion lies in keeping all of the facts straight and which researcher did what and how they were related. Ideally there would have been a little more humor added into the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critical information toward an important goal, June 24, 2013
By 
Brendan Parker (Rochester, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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I have been reading several books about the anti-aging initiative and science behind it. If you read one book about it, I recommend "Ending Aging" by Aubrey de Grey, but if you read several, this is a must. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the science came to be, focusing on case studies and particular people and instances which had an effect on the science as we know it today, and a projection of what lies ahead.

Though a bit hard to read (not only for the author's eloquent word choices that were often above my head, requiring a dictionary near by, but also for the deep subject matter, and delightful pacing between light humor and hard science), I feel the book offers valuable information summarized to one text. Part of the confusion too is how the author discusses case studies and details which are never really put into context in ways that relate them to each other. I suppose that's the job of the scientist's though. The information is there, but it's up to to others to piece it together.

Another thing to note is how the author doesn't take too much bias to one side. Though there is striking scientific evidence which hold some promise coming from all different directions, he takes each one with a sense of possibility and skepticism. This is important, because running with the wrong information or discrediting correct information could certainly hold us back in our quest to end and manage aging (which, in my opinion, should be our focus in society right now).

I also enjoyed the Audible edition (which I highly recommend because it helps you pronounce correctly the names and scientific vernacular). It was clear, well-read, though there were a few discrepancies between the text and the audio edition (though I have the 2011 edition). I was able to read along at a pace much quicker than my normal reading speed.

Thank you, David Stipp, for this wonderful book, and thank you, Amazon, for introducing it to me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite interesting, January 29, 2012
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This review is from: The Youth Pill: Scientists at the Brink of an Anti-Aging Revolution (Hardcover)
I very much enjoyed this book, which looks at the science behind aging and potential ways to offset its effects. I became interested in this book after reading and article by the author in Scientific American on m-TOR, and the book didn't disappoint. One of the many things that I enjoyed about the book is that the author makes the science and the scientists come alive. I always like that in science books, in that too often we ignore the personalities and the humanity behind science. This book traces a variety of studies and learnings about aging, starting with a monumental learning from the beginning of the 1900s that showed that animals on a calorie restricted diet live longer. This eventually lead to many other studies about what the biology is behind this, and whether there are ways to emulate the effects without going through the trials of near starvation. From this, we learn much about different chemicals and how they impact cell aging, and the serendipitous ways in which many of the discoveries are found. For example, one of the key chemicals was discovered in soil samples picked up on Easter Island. It is often interesting how what may seem to be a useless study can lead to amazing discoveries.

Altogether, very well written and quite interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for people who like behind the scenes facts in this hot field, January 25, 2012
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This review is from: The Youth Pill: Scientists at the Brink of an Anti-Aging Revolution (Hardcover)
I usually get bored easily with most of the non fiction science related books I read due to the amount of claims with no references and too many generalities. But this book had none of that. I was so amazed about how well the writer knew the drama and history behind aging research and most top researchers. The book read more like a medical novel to me and it kept me interested until the end. I am looking forward to any future books he writes!

Great work and highly recommended!

Nelson Vergel
Author
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, February 16, 2011
By 
N. Mendes (Pawtucket, RI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Youth Pill: Scientists at the Brink of an Anti-Aging Revolution (Hardcover)
This book covers the history of anti-aging research leading up to the current aging theories of today - expertly and narratively written. Truly an excellent writer!!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Making the science accessible..., September 11, 2010
This year brought several books on the subject of aging, but two in particular stand out. David Stipp's "The Youth Pill", and Greg Critser's "Eternity Soup" both address the cutting edge science of aging, but from different perspectives.

David Stipp is well known as a former writer for Fortune and the Wall Street Journal, where he covered the science beat. As a trained journalist, he tends to stay outside of the story, is concerned about the science first, and tends not to advocate for any point of view. With a background in business journalism, Stipp is able to address questions of the business of aging and big pharma. This isn't a "light read" that you can pop into and out of easily, but if you have some quiet time to absorb a chapter without interruption, you will be well rewarded. If you are comfortable with Time or Fortune, you will have no trouble following Stipp's overview of aging research, past and present.

Greg Critser, on the other hand, has fun with the subject, bringing himself into the story with great anecdotes and becomes a featured player with his own back story in this book. Critser is a lighter, easier, more irreverent read once you have the deep background from Stipp.

My advice would be to read "The Youth Pill" for an in-depth treatment of the history and science of aging, and with this background move on to Critser for his treatment of specific issues and his highly personal review of today's hot button issues such as calorie reduction. Irreverent, but lots of fun.
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