cover image Cheating Death: The New Science of Living Longer and Better

Cheating Death: The New Science of Living Longer and Better

Rand McClain. Benbella, $24.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-63774-040-8

This informative if impractical debut by physician McClain explores medical treatments that promise to help patients “live longer, heal faster, and feel better.” He makes the standard case for eating right, exercising, and sleeping well, but the juiciest recommendations are the most futuristic. The author touts the promise of stem cell treatments for restoring damaged tissue and surveys the different types of stem cells, noting that somatic stem cells “replace or repair” specific kinds of cells while pluripotent cells can transform into any kind. Scientific explanations back up his suggestions, though readers might struggle to follow the jargon, such as McClain’s contention that cryotherapy increases longevity “by reducing free radicals, increasing cellular respiration and thermogenesis.” However, the author is careful not to oversell experimental therapies and cautions that while gene editing has shown promise in treating cancer and muscular dystrophy, it’s “still in a developmental phase” and scientists haven’t figured out how to prevent gene changes from “crossing over” into cells scientists didn’t intend to alter. Suggestions to get one’s genome sequenced and stem cells banked, meanwhile, don’t address the prohibitive costs of these technologies. Nonetheless, this serves as a solid overview of pioneering treatments and makes for a stimulating glimpse into what the future of aging might look like. (Jan.)