Will Science Discover the Cure For Aging?
Reprint of an
article by Royane Real from
the Article Codex website,
Introduction by Dr. Don Rose,
reprinted below is a brief but informative summary of current theories concerning
the human aging process. The hope is that once science understands how we age, we
may be able to manipulate or trick those bodily mechanisms and thus create methods
to halt or even reverse aging. In the future, reaching an advanced age will become
ever more common, but perhaps aging will be a thing of the past. --Don Rose
If you’re still alive, you’re growing older every day.
You may not notice it, but you are.
When we make that great shift out of our teenage years into our twenties, most of
the changes we encounter about growing older are good.
When we are in our twenties, growing older means a lot more freedom and a lot of
adventure. Physically, we are at our peak of perfection.
In our thirties, we are starting to enjoy many of the benefits of growing older
as we accumulate more wisdom and in most cases, continue to have a body and a brain
that’s still in great shape.
But there comes a time, perhaps in our fifth decade, or in our sixth, when growing
older starts to have some negative effects we don’t really like.
We may not be as physically fit as we used to be. We start to get sags and
bags. We get aches and pains. We may be showing some forgetfulness.
Our beautiful perfection of youth is gone.
Why do we age?
Over the centuries, people have often wondered how it is that our bodies grow and
develop from a tiny fertilized egg, to a newborn baby, to a young child, then a
teenager and, finally, a young adult. A huge number of very complex changes
within our bodies must happen perfectly in order to achieve this.
Once we grow into our adult perfection, why can’t we just stay there? Why
do we have to age?
And can we stop it?
Doctors and scientists used to take aging for granted. Scientists used to
think that because aging was a natural process, there was no need to investigate
Now, as increasing numbers of baby boomers are turning fifty, anxious to hang on
to some semblance of youth, more and more research is being devoted to the topic
Scientists are trying to find out how and why we age, and they are investigating
possible ways to slow down the aging process, or perhaps even stop it altogether.
If new ways are found to extend physical and mental health for the aging population,
the benefits to society will be enormous.
Although all of us want to live a long time, none of us wants to spend our final
years in physical pain or suffering from mental decline.
Scientists have been able to identify some of the factors that influence the process
of aging, and new knowledge is accumulating at a rapid rate. Dozens of theories
to explain aging have been proposed, but it seems that aging is a very complex,
and several processes are interlinked.
Here are some of the current theories about why we age:
Hayflick Limit Theory – Two scientists in the 1960s noticed that many human
cells would divide a limited number of times, then stop. If the cells were
well fed, they divided faster. Body cells may have a built-in genetic program
that tells them not to reproduce anymore.
Free Radical Theory - Free radicals are molecules or atoms that have
an unpaired electron. In order to be electrically balanced, these molecules
or atoms will grab an electron from a nearby atom, thereby creating another free
radical, eventually resulting in a cascading chain of damage to cells and organs.
Free radical formation may not account for all the symptoms of aging, but it probably
does play an important part in accelerating cellular damage. Free radicals
are unavoidable. They are an inevitable consequence of living in a physical
body. However, there are steps we can take to slow down free radical damage,
such as avoiding pollutants, and eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Telomerase Theory – Telomeres are special types of chemicals
that seem to have some ability to protect the chromosomes inside our cells.
Every time our cells divide, the telomeres become shorter and less able to protect
the chromosome. This may explain why the cells eventually become damaged and
die. Scientists are currently trying to find out how to repair telomeres and
stop the damage to the cells.
Glycation – When proteins in your body react with
excess blood sugar, the proteins become damaged. This process is known as
“glycation”. These sugar-damaged proteins may contribute to the breakdown
of many other systems in the body. People who have diabetes or problems with
insulin resistance are particularly vulnerable to glycation damage because of abnormalities
in their blood sugar levels.
If it turns out to be true that glycation plays a major part in causing the negative
effects of aging, we may be able to slow it down by making sure we avoid excess
blood sugar levels.
Here are some other factors that play a part in aging:
- We experience a steep decline in hormone production in our later years
- Our body becomes less efficient at detoxifying
- The DNA in our cells becomes damaged
- A life time of exposure to stress and environmental toxins in our air, food and
water overwhelms our body’s repair systems.
These are some of the explanations for
why we age, but it’s not a complete picture. At the present time, we don’t
yet know all the reasons for this process. And so far, there is no single magic
bullet to stop it.
If scientists can learn how to slow down the process of aging, we will be able to
spend many more happy years enjoying our lives while maintaining our peak of physical
And that would be something to look forward to!
This article was written by Royane Real, author
of the Book “How To Be Smarter – Use Your Brain to Learn Faster, Remember Better
and Be More Creative” To learn more about how to boost your brain power, download
it today or get the paperback version from www.lulu.com/real.
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Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles
on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.
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