cover image Eternity Soup: Inside the Quest to End Aging

Eternity Soup: Inside the Quest to End Aging

Greg Critser. Harmony, $26 (234pp) ISBN 978-0-307-40790-0

Bringing his signature wit and insight to the field of biogerentology, Critser (Fat Land, Generation Rx) produces a vigorous report of frontier science, charlatanry, and hope for a new, much longer, way of life. Beginning with a discussion with his septuagenarian parents, who receive ""compounded hormone"" treatment from a ""longevity doctor,"" Critser travels the U.S. to investigate the enterprises ""forging onward into a brave new pro-longevist world."" (Crister's own horse in the race-besides finding the natural aging process ""cruel, capricious and unrelenting""-is a ""form of accelerated brain aging"" he suffers as a result of a concussion.) Crister's first stop is a gathering of the Caloric Restriction Society, which advocates minimal caloric intake as a way of slowing cell damage; a conference breakfast consists of five blueberries and three potato chips. More trendy, and pricey, is hormone treatment, which claims to ""add thirty years to maximum life span,"" backed up by promising trials on mice (though more recent studies have called the science into question). Critser's own course of treatment turns out ambiguously, but sends him to an intriguing third line of research, bio-engineering replacement body parts and other tissues from a patient's own cells. A light and critical eye makes this excursion into front-end science an entertaining, enlightening trek.