Minggu, 06 September 2009

Aging: A Few Theories

There are many theories that explain the factors contributing to aging process. Two of the most famous theories are the "wear and tear" theory and the "programmed aging" theory. The "wear and tear" explains that the causes of aging include DNA damage, glycosilation and free radicals. The "programmed aging" on the other hand explains that the factors include cell replication limit, immune process, and neuroendocrine theory.

The W&T basically tells us that our body weaken and die because of the continuous usage and damage of our cells. Our cells are damaged because of constant abuse by toxins, excess fat, sugar overload, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, UV rays, and stress. So, even if we were not smokers or alcoholic, our cells and therefore organs would still deteriorate. The difference is that with the additional abuse, the body would crumble a lot faster.

The free radicals hypothesis is up till now the most talked about theory of aging process. Free radicals are molecules with excess unpaired electron. These molecules are unstable and can create a chain reaction where unstable molecules will try to rip away electrons from other molecules to balance themselves. And the ones that are mobbed will be unstable also and become the next electron-robber. These reactions cause cellular dysfunction and contribute greatly to some diseases, such as atherosclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer syndrome, and immunity disorder.

The programmed aging theory talks about biological clock that is programmed from the day of conception to the day we die. One theory mentions about telomere, a special structure at the end of a chromosome. Every time a cell divide, the telomere will shorten. After a number of cell divisions, the telomere will be too short to be used for another division. The cell multiplication stops there.
Another theory talks about the role of hormone to aging process. When people grew old, their body would produce less hormones than when they were young. When the serum level dropped, there came the physical problems, such as intolerance to low temperature, difficulty to move, decreasing muscle mass, increasing body fat, memory disturbance, and sexual dysfunction.

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