by Marco Torres
November 11, 2015
from PreventDisease Website
...and so many other inventions called diseases for the sole purpose of selling more drugs.
In what many critics are calling lunacy of unimaginable proportions, the World Health Organization (WHO) now plans to lay down the framework that will set the precedent for classifying aging, something that should be embraced and celebrated, into a disease with elaborate protocols expected to be finalized in 2018.
Most people in modern times have
been somewhat unanimous that wrinkles, grief and homosexuality
are not diseases, although not if you ask
the WHO, all of the above may
soon be classified as a disease given enough time.
For example, when black slaves ran
away from plantations they were labeled to suffer from
drapetomania and medical treatment was used to try to "cure"
Finally, homosexuality was considered a disease as recently as 1974. In addition to the social and cultural influence on disease definition, new scientific discoveries usually financed by pharmaceutical companies lead to the revision of what is a disease and what is not.
For example, fever was once seen as
a disease in its own right but the realization that
different underlying causes would lead to the appearance of
fever changed its status from disease to symptom.
The paper (Classifying Aging as a Disease in the Context of ICD-11) explores the evolution of disease classification practices and the progress made since William Cullen's seminal Nosolagae Methodicae synopsis published in 1769.
It discusses some of the additions
to the ICD-10 including some of the less obvious conditions like
obesity that may set the precedent for classifying aging as a
But why is it that the medical community has no hesitation in defining dozens of new diseases every year, most of which have no scientific justification?
The advent of genetic screening
could eventually mean that apparently healthy people will be
labeled "sick" decades before an actual diagnosis.
With the exception of a relatively
small number of medical conditions directly caused by a single
defective gene, genetic screening cannot predict whether a
person will develop a disease, note David Melzer, of the
University of Cambridge, and Ron Zimmern, of Strangeways
Research Laboratory in Cambridge.
Doctors are usually the most inclined to consider states of being as diseases.
Laypeople are the least inclined,
and nurses and legislators are in between. The willingness to
pay for treatment from public funds is
very strongly correlated with the
perception of disease (that is, whether people regard
a particular state of being as a disease) and that has likely
factored into the decisions by top officials to label aging as a
Many of these advertising dollars,
according to Mintzes, are spent on relatively new, expensive
drugs intended for long-term use in large groups of people, such
as medications for cholesterol, impotence and
Perhaps there will soon be a new
drug for them...