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Cells that permanently stop dividing—that become “senescent”—have long been known to be a defense against cancer: if damaged cells can’t replicate, they can’t form tumors. Recently, though, investigators have learned that senescent cells can at times prod other cells to become malignant, as David Stipp notes in “Quiet Little Traitors,” in the August 2012 issue of Scientific American. Here, Judith Campisi, of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, describes how senescent cells cause such havoc and how they can contribute, not only to cancer, but to an array of age-related ills. She also speculates on possible interventions.