Aging is always associated with a decline in health, but people’s views vary in regard to the definition of aging: is aging considered a disease in itself or is it just a catalyst for illnesses? This controversy originates from different interpretations of aging and survival. According to a paper published by British molecular biologist Robin Holliday titled Aging is No Longer an Unsolved Problem in Biology, “survival of an organism is a dynamic tug between the occurrence of damage and the processes of maintenance and repair systems.” Aging causes an imbalance between repair mechanisms and the damage that occurs. Thus, some scientists believe that aging increases the vulnerability of humans and the chance of being diagnosed with illnesses, but is not a disease.

Other researchers argue that aging matches the definition of disease and therefore, should be considered an illness. As written in H. Marcovitch’s Black's Medical Dictionary, “The medical definition of disease is any abnormality of bodily structure or function, other than those arising directly from physical injury; the latter, however, may open the way for disease. “ Aging complies with these definitions. Moreover, there is an extent of flexibility and uncertainty in the classification of certain conditions as diseases. The American Medical Association House of Delegates declares that obesity is a disease, but similar to aging, obesity does not fall under the widely-held definition of illness. Therefore, some scientists state that aging has a cause other than physical injury and should be classified as a disease.

Utilizing different approaches, both sides strive to alleviate the harms related to aging. In their paper titled “Is Aging a Preventable or Curable Disease?”, pioneering bioethicist Daniel Callahan and Eva Topinkova, a national expert in geriatric medicine, wrote that the advantage of characterizing aging as a disease instead of a natural phenomenon is that it increases the practicality of medical efforts to find methods to eradicate the harmful effects of aging.

Scientists who view aging as a progressive phenomenon dismiss the idea of defeating or conquering aging. Instead, they focus on keywords such as maintaining health as a guideline to achieve healthy aging. Current anti-aging and disease-oriented treatments ignore the social, psychological, and mental causes of disease. Various chronic conditions such as depression, malnutrition, and age-related cancer do not have a specific cause, but they are still extremely harmful. A common anti-aging method is fixing what is broken. This approach utilizes technologies like tissue and organ repairs, transplants, or stem-cell related treatments. Another prominent intervention is replenishing the loss by supplementing hormones and antioxidants. However, these replenishments have little or no effect on the physical well-being of people. One prospective aging intervention is strengthening homeodynamics, which is when minor stresses such as physical exercise, an increase in brain activity or micronutrients induce cellular responses.

Whether scientists classify aging as a disease or not, current biomedical research is improving the development of aging interventions and enhancing the maintenance of human health into old age.