Advances in our knowledge of age-associated diseases have far outpaced advances in our understanding of the fundamental ageing processes that underlie the vulnerability to these pathologies. If we are to increase human life expectancy beyond the fifteen-year limit that would result if today's leading causes of death were resolved, more attention must be paid to basic research on ageing. Determination of longevity must be distinguished from ageing to take us from the common question of why we age to a more revealing question that is rarely posed: why do we live as long as we do? But if the ability to intervene in ageing ever becomes a reality, it will be rife with unintended and undesirable consequences.
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