Policy Matters

As research in the field of aging is blossoming, so are questions about its implications for society. The importance of these issues is compounded by the fact that populations in industrialized nations are growing older. Several Web sites address policy-related topics that intersect the science of aging.

SAGE Crossroads, a collaboration between the Alliance for Aging Research and AAAS, wrestles with the policy implications of aging-related research. It has tackled numerous thorny questions with policymakers, journalists, and the public in mind. Some individuals worry, for example, that ''artificially'' extending human lives would cheapen our existence, whereas others point out that the modern medical enterprise has already drastically increased lifespans with no ill effects on society. Other subjects that the site has explored include the paucity of older people included in clinical trials; the wisdom of using human growth hormone to combat symptoms of aging despite data suggesting that the substance curtails lifespan; and how we might improve our flu-combating measures. It has discussed nanotech-nology, hormone replacement therapy, guidelines for keeping bones strong, and chronic pain, as well as age-related voice changes and hearing loss. SAGE Crossroads ponders such topics in News and Views articles as well as through Webcasts in which experts debate and discuss such matters.

To gain insight into how lawmakers address these and other age-related policy issues, visit the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Web site. Visitors can view video or read testimonies from hearings, which the committee uses to guide recommendations for new legislation to the United States Senate.

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