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Can We Prevent Aging?

Can We Prevent Aging?

People are living longer. In 1970, the average life expectancy at birth in the United States was 70.8 years; in 2008, it was 78.0 years; and by 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau projects life expectancy will reach 79.5 years.

Views on aging are also changing. Disease and disability were once considered an inevitable part of growing older, but that is no longer true. While aging does put us at greater risk for health issues, many older adults can be healthy and active well into their advancing years.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the Federal Government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), investigates ways to support healthy aging and prevent or delay the onset of age-related disease and decline. We have already gained important insights, and what we learn from ongoing and future studies may not only help to increase longevity, but may also promote what is known as “active life expectancy”—the time in late life free of disability. We already know, for example, that healthy eating and exercise and physical activity help promote healthy aging. Are there other interventions that can help? NIA-supported and other studies are taking a look at the possible benefits and risks of a number of approaches, including antioxidants, calorie restriction, and hormone supplements. This tip sheet provides an overview of what we know about these interventions and the research needed to learn more. Until we have a better understanding, it is a good idea to be skeptical of claims that any supplements can solve your age-related problems.

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