RealAge. Are You as Young as You Can Be? By Michael F. Roizen, M.D., with Elizabeth Anne Stephenson. New York, Cliff Street Books, 1999. Pages: 335. Price: $25.
Mike Roizen has written a new book that has nothing to do with anesthesiology—and you may well find it his most educational endeavor yet. RealAge. Are You as Young as You Can Be? has had an impact on the public and on the lay press. It should have a similar impact on physicians.
Inspired by patient and family vignettes, Dr. Roizen explores the scientific evidence that explains the difference between chronologic age and physiologic age (RealAge). Written for a lay audience, physicians will find this book to be a fast read. Nevertheless, it brims with information about which many of us no longer keep current. The author explains the aging process and how our genetic profiles, and our presumably alterable behaviors, influence it. These lifestyle choices, not the number of years we have actually lived, largely determine our physiologic age. He bases this premise on three “age busters” that primarily affect our individual aging process: aging arteries, an aging immune system, and social and environmental factors. For each of these categories, he details scientifically based strategies for potential addition of years to our lives, ranging from easy “quick fixes” to more difficult changes. Many of these strategies are already known, such as avoiding tobacco, driving the speed limit, wearing a bicycle helmet, and controlling cholesterol or blood pressure. Many are fun, but often overlooked: exercising, getting adequate sleep, having more orgasms, and drinking more wine. However, what I found to be most interesting and valuable were recommendations about lifestyle alterations that are long on myth but short on science. For example, which vitamins and supplements are worthwhile, and in what doses? What is the ideal mix of aerobic and strength exercise? What are the relative benefits and risks of specific food groups?
RealAge offers a quick quiz that determines physiologic age (an interactive version is also available on the Web site www.RealAge.com). From this starting point, one can adopt age-reduction strategies, many of which are remarkably simple: taking an aspirin a day, adding vitamin E to the diet, or keeping immunizations current. Others, such as maintaining a desirable weight, are more difficult. Regardless, the physician–reader comes away with evidenced-based strategies, rather than the latest fad.
Dr. Roizen dedicated this book to his family:“They not only help me stay young, but are the reason I want to be young.” Do not buy this book for your medical library; buy it for yourself and for your family.