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The Biostatistics of Aging: From Gompertzian Mortality to an Index of Aging-Relatedness by Gilberto Levy, Bruce Levin

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2.2 THE EVOLUTIONARY THEORY OF AGING

Some authors have made a distinction between the terms aging and senescence. For instance, Medawar (1952) stated: “It will be convenient to use the seventeenth century word senescence to stand for the deterioration that accompanies ageing, and to leave ageing itself to stand for merely growing old.” In his book, Finch (1990, p. 5) also chose to use the term senescence, because the term aging is generally used to describe changes that occur during “the passage of physical time,” which may have “little or no adverse effect on vitality or lifespan.” Consistent with that, Carnes et al. (1996) stated, “In simple terms, aging is the passage of clock time and senescence is the passage of biological time.” In this book, no such distinction between aging and senescence is made; that is, the term aging is used in the same sense as the term senescence in some authors’ use and in several quotations in this section. Rose (1991, pp. 18–19) listed reasons in favor of using the term senescence with the restrictive connotation of deterioration but considered that “this would be at variance with the overwhelming precedent of American biological research, in which the term senescence is rarely used compared with the term aging, and both have an association with deterioration.” We additionally make the choice of not drawing a distinction between these terms because on the evolutionary view taken here, as we will discuss in the following text, aging is nonadaptive ...

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