Aging is the accumulation of changes in a person over time. Aging in humans refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological, and social change. Some dimensions of aging grow and expand over time, while others decline. Reaction time, for example, may slow with age, while knowledge of world events and wisdom may expand. Research shows that even late in life, potential exists for physical, mental, and social growth and development. Aging is an important part of all human societies reflecting the biological changes that occur, but also reflecting cultural and societal conventions. Roughly 100,000 people worldwide die each day of age-related causes.
Age is measured chronologically, and a person's birthday is often an important event. However the term "aging" is somewhat ambiguous. Distinctions may be made between "universal aging" (age changes that all people share) and "probabilistic aging" (age changes that may happen to some, but not all people as they grow older including diseases such as type two diabetes). Chronological aging may also be distinguished from "social aging" (cultural age-expectations of how people should act as they grow older) and "biological aging" (an organism's physical state as it ages). There is also a distinction between "proximal aging" (age-based effects that come about because of factors in the recent past) and "distal aging" (age-based differences that can be traced back to a cause early in person's life, such as childhood poliomyelitis)
Differences are sometimes made between populations of elderly people. Divisions are sometimes made between the young old (65-74), the middle old (75-84) and the oldest old (85+). However problematic this is, chronological age does not correlate perfectly with functional age, i.e. two people may be of the same age, but differ in their mental and physical capacities. Each nation, government and non-government organization has different ways of classifying age.
Population aging is the increase in the number and proportion of older people in society. Population aging has three possible causes: migration, longer life expectancy (decreased death rate), and decreased birth rate. Aging has a significant impact on society. Young people tend to commit most crimes, they are more likely to push for political and social change, to develop and adopt new technologies, and to need education. Older people have different requirements from society and government as opposed to young people, and frequently differing values as well. Older people are also far more likely to vote, and in many countries the young are forbidden from voting. Thus, the aged have comparatively more political influence.
Recent scientific successes in rejuvenation and extending a lifespan of model animals (mice-2.5 times, yeast -15 times, nematodes-10 times) and discovery of variety of species (including humans of advanced ages) having negligible senescence give hope to achieve negligible senescence (cancel aging) for younger humans, reverse aging or at least significantly delay it. In spite of the developments mentioned above and the fact that aging is admitted to be the major cause of mortality in developed worlds the anti-aging and life extension research is greatly underfunded. Although human life is declared to be a basic value in many societies there is still no strong awareness and thus demand of the society to cancel human aging. The body still technically ages after death as it still gets older from birth.
The first formal studies of aging appear to be those of Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Harawi (1582) in his book Ainul Hayat, published by Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine and Sciences. This book is based only on aging and its related issues.
The original manuscript of Ainul Hayat was scribed in 1532 by the author Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Harawi. Four copies of the manuscript survive and were reprinted in an edited and translated version by Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman (2007). The book discusses behavioral and lifestyle factors putatively influencing aging including diet, environment and housing conditions. Also discussed are drugs that may increase and decrease aging rates.
In biology, senescence is the state or process of aging. Cellular senescence is a phenomenon where isolated cells demonstrate a limited ability to divide in culture (the Hayflick Limit, discovered by Leonard Hayflick in 1961), while organismal senescence is the aging of organisms. After a period of near perfect renewal (in humans, between 20 and 35 years of age), organismal senescence is characterized by the declining ability to respond to stress, increasing homeostatic imbalance and increased risk of disease. This currently irreversible series of changes inevitably ends in death. Some researchers (specifically bio-gerontologists) are treating aging as a disease. As genes that have an effect on aging are discovered, aging is increasingly being regarded in a similar fashion to other genetically influenced "conditions", potentially "treatable."
Indeed, aging is not an unavoidable property of life. Instead, it is the result of a genetic program. Numerous species show very low signs of aging ("negligible senescence"), the best known being trees like the bristlecone pine (however Hayflick states that the bristlecone pine has no cells older than 30 years), fish like the sturgeon and the rockfish, invertebrates like the quahog and sea anemone and lobster.
In humans and other animals, cellular senescence has been attributed to the shortening of telomeres with each cell cycle; when telomeres become too short, the cells die. The length of telomeres is therefore the "molecular clock," predicted by Hayflick.
Among the signs of senescence subjective descendophobia is reported.
Telomere length is maintained in immortal cells (e.g. germ cells and keratinocyte stem cells, but not other skin cell types) by the telomerase enzyme. In the laboratory, mortal cell lines can be immortalized by the activation of their telomerase gene, present in all cells but active in few cell types. Cancerous cells must become immortal to multiply without limit.
This important step towards carcinogenesis implies, in 85% of cancers, the reactivation of their telomerase gene by mutation. Since this mutation is rare, the telomere "clock" is seen by some as a protective mechanism against cancer. Research has shown that the clock must be located in the nucleus of each cell and there have been reports that the longevity clock might be located in genes on either the first or fourth chromosome of the twenty-three pairs of human chromosomes.
Other genes are known to affect the aging process. The sirtuin family of genes have been shown to have a significant effect on the lifespan of yeast and nematodes. Over-expression of the RAS2 gene increases lifespan in yeast substantially.
In addition to genetic ties to lifespan, diet has been shown to substantially affect lifespan in many animals. Specifically, caloric restriction (that is, restricting calories to 30-50% less than an ad libitum animal would consume, while still maintaining proper nutrient intake), has been shown to increase lifespan in mice up to 50%. Caloric restriction works on many other species beyond mice (including species as diverse as yeast and Drosophila), and appears (though the data is not conclusive) to increase lifespan in primates according to a study done on Rhesus monkeys at the National Institute of Health (US), although the increase in lifespan is only notable if the caloric restriction is started early in life. Since, at the molecular level, age is counted not as time but as the number of cell doublings, this effect of calorie reduction could be mediated by the slowing of cellular growth and, therefore, the lengthening of the time between cell divisions.
Drug companies are currently searching for ways to mimic the lifespan-extending effects of caloric restriction without having to severely reduce food consumption. thin does not favor longevity. Read more ...
New genetic variants associated with extreme old age Science Daily - April 26, 2017
The search for the genetic determinants of extreme longevity has been challenging, with the prevalence of centenarians (people older than 100) just one per 5,000 population in developed nations. But a recently published study that combines four studies of extreme longevity, has identified new rare variants in chromosomes 4 and 7 associated with extreme survival and with reduced risks for cardiovascular and Alzheimer's disease.
Critical step in DNA repair, cellular aging pinpointed Science Daily - March 24, 2017
The body's ability to repair DNA damage declines with age, which causes gradual cell demise, overall bodily degeneration and greater susceptibility to cancer. Now, research reveals a critical step in a molecular chain of events that allows cells to mend their broken DNA. DNA repair is essential for cell vitality, cell survival and cancer prevention, yet cells' ability to patch up damaged DNA declines with age for reasons not fully understood.
Scientists unveil a giant leap for anti-aging Science Daily - March 23, 2017
UNSW researchers have made a discovery that could lead to a revolutionary drug that actually reverses ageing, improves DNA repair and could even help NASA get its astronauts to Mars. In a paper published in Science today, the team identifies a critical step in the molecular process that allows cells to repair damaged DNA.
Maximum human lifespan has already been reached Science Daily - October 5, 2016
A new study suggests that it may not be possible to extend the human life span beyond the ages already attained by the oldest people on record. Since the 19th century, average life expectancy has risen almost continuously thanks to improvements in public health, diet, the environment and other areas. On average, for example, U.S. babies born today can expect to live nearly until age 79 compared with an average life expectancy of only 47 for Americans born in 1900. Since the 1970s, the maximum duration of life -- the age to which the oldest people live -- has also risen. But according to the Einstein researchers, this upward arc for maximal lifespan has a ceiling -- and we've already touched it.
Gene linked to youthful looks has been discovered, scientists claim The Guardian - May 3, 2016
In a study published today, scientists in Rotterdam claim for the first time to have found a gene that specifically affects how old people look. The gene came to light when researchers noticed that people who carried mutations in the gene appeared, on average, two years older than they were. If verified, finding could help understand how people's faces change with time, and may ultimately lead to ways of slowing the most visible effects of aging. '
Do Presidents Age Faster Than the Rest Of Us? Discovery - March 24, 2016
Why are 95% of people who live to 110 women? You're as old as your stem cells Science Daily - June 4, 2015
Human supercentenarians share at least one thing in common--over 95 percent are women. Scientists have long observed differences between the sexes when it comes to aging, but there is no clear explanation for why females live longer. In a discussion of what we know about stem cell behavior and sex, researchers argue that it's time to look at differences in regenerative decline between men and women. This line of research could open up new explanations for how the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, or other factors, modify lifespan.
Terry, 80 and Ellie, 72
Ellie 72, Merietha, 70
Scientists identify signature of aging in the brain PhysOrg - September 29, 2014
How the brain ages is still largely an open question - in part because this organ is mostly insulated from direct contact with other systems in the body, including the blood and immune systems. In researchers found evidence of a unique "signature" that may be the "missing link" between cognitive decline and aging. The scientists believe that this discovery may lead, in the future, to treatments that can slow or reverse cognitive decline in older people.
Biologists delay the aging process by 'remote control' Science Daily - September 8, 2014
Biologists have identified a gene that can slow the aging process when activated remotely in key organ systems. The life scientists, working with fruit flies, activated a gene called AMPK that is a key energy sensor in cells. Increasing AMPK in the intestine increased the fly's life by about 30 percent, and the fly stayed healthier longer as well. The research could have important implications for delaying aging and disease in humans.
Strategy proposed for preventing diseases of aging PhysOrg - July 23, 2014
Medicine focuses almost entirely on fighting chronic diseases in a piecemeal fashion as symptoms develop. Instead, more efforts should be directed to promoting interventions that have the potential to prevent multiple chronic diseases and extend healthy lifespans. Researchers writing in the journal Nature say that by treating the metabolic and molecular causes of human aging, it may be possible to help people stay healthy into their 70s and 80s.
Youth-drug can 'reverse' aging in animal studies BBC - December 20, 2013
US scientists have performed a dramatic reversal of the aging process in animal studies. They used a chemical to rejuvenate muscle in mice and said it was the equivalent of transforming a 60-year-old's muscle to that of a 20-year-old - but muscle strength did not improve.
Depression 'makes us biologically older' BBC - November 12, 2013
Depression can make us physically older by speeding up the aging process in our cells, according to a study. Lab tests showed cells looked biologically older in people who were severely depressed or who had been in the past. These visible differences in a measure of cell aging called telomere length couldn't be explained by other factors, such as whether a person smoked.
Aging really is 'in your head' PhysOrg - September 3, 2013
Among scientists, the role of proteins called sirtuins in enhancing longevity has been hotly debated, driven by contradictory results from many different scientists. But new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis may settle the dispute. Reporting Sept. 3 in Cell Metabolism, Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD, and his colleagues have identified the mechanism by which a specific sirtuin protein called Sirt1 operates in the brain to bring about a significant delay in aging and an increase in longevity. Both have been associated with a low-calorie diet. The Japanese philosopher and scientist Ekiken Kaibara first described the concept of dietary control as a method to achieve good health and longevity in 1713. He died the following year at the ripe old age of 84 - a long life for someone in the 18th century.
Brain Region Found to Control Aging Live Science - May 1, 2013
For the first time, a brain region has been found that may control aging throughout the whole body, a new study reports. A signaling pathway in the brain region known as the hypothalamus could speed up or slow down aging in mice. If it applies in humans, the discovery could open up possibilities for slowing age-related diseases and increasing life span. "There's really not much understanding regarding the mechanism of aging," said senior author Dr. Dongsheng Cai, a molecular pharmacologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. The hypothalamus, an almond-size structure deep inside the brain, is known to control important functions, including growth, development, reproduction and metabolism. Now, Cai and his team have found that an immune system pathway in the hypothalamus also has a role in controlling aging. Usually, the immune system is involved in fending off infection or damage, but studies have also linked inflammatory changes with age-related conditions, including cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases. Still, these changes weren't known to actively trigger aging.
Best-Kept Anti-Aging Secret: Pycnogenol News Max Health - April 16, 2013
Pycnogenol may be the world's best-kept secret in the fight against aging. Even though this supplement has been the subject of more than 300 scientific studies showing its effectiveness, including more than 100 human clinical trials, few people know how to pronounce its name (pic-noj-en-all), let alone its wide-ranging benefits. Pycnogenol is a very strong antioxidant, meaning it counteracts a bodily process much like internal rusting in a machine, which accelerates aging and predisposes us to all manner of deterioration. We have yet to discover all of its properties, says Dr. Lamm, But we do know it functions in the body to reduce inflammation, enhance blood flow, reduce clotting, have a positive effect on your lipids - cholesterol and triglycerides - and blood pressure.
NIST pair of aluminum atomic clocks reveal Einstein's relativity at a personal scale PhysOrg - September 23, 2010
Scientists have known for decades that time passes faster at higher elevations a curious aspect of Einstein's theories of relativity that previously has been measured by comparing clocks on the earth's surface and a high-flying rocket. NIST physicists compared a pair of the world's best atomic clocks to demonstrate that you age faster when you stand just a couple of steps higher on a staircase.
Sleeping well at 100 years of age: Study searches for the secrets to healthy longevity PhysOrg - May 2, 2010
A study in the May 1 issue of the journal Sleep is the first to examine sleep issues in a large sample of exceptionally old adults, including nearly 2,800 people who were 100 years of age and older. Results show that about 65 percent of the sample reported that their sleep quality was good or very good, and the weighted average daily sleep time was about 7.5 hours including naps. Surprisingly, the oldest adults aged 100 and above were 70 percent more likely to report good sleep quality than younger participants aged 65 to 79, after controlling for variables such as demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status and health conditions. Men were 23 percent more likely than women to report sleeping well. Health problems were associated with worse sleep quality, as participants with self-rated poor health were 46 percent less likely to report sleeping well. The odds of reporting good sleep quality also were lower in people who often felt anxious, had at least one chronic disease or struggled with everyday tasks.
Facial Aging Is More Than Skin Deep Science Daily - April 20, 2010
Facelifts and other wrinkle-reducing procedures have long been sought by people wanting to ward off the signs of aging, but new research suggests that it takes more than tightening loose skin to restore a youthful look. A study by physicians at the University of Rochester Medical Center indicates that significant changes in facial bones -- particularly the jaw bone -- occur as people age and contribute to an aging appearance.
Scientists solve aging puzzle PhysOrg - February 16, 2010
Scientists from the University's Institute for Ageing and Health have used state-of-the-art laboratory techniques and sophisticated mathematical modelling to help crack the problem of why cells age. The ageing process has its roots deep within the cells and molecules that make up our bodies and experts have identified the molecular pathway that reacts to cell damage and stems the cell's ability to divide. The results should help us understand not only ageing itself, but also how cancer cells escape ageing to wreak their destructive power.
British scientists discover 'secret to aging' bringing new hope to old-age sufferers Telegraph.co.uk - February 16, 2010
Scientists said the discovery would unlikely provide an elixir of eternal life in the near future.
Genes reveal 'biological aging' BBC - February 8, 2010
Gene variants that might show how fast people's bodies are actually aging have been pinpointed by scientists. Researchers from the University of Leicester and Kings College London say the finding could help spot people at higher risk of age-related illnesses. People carrying the variant had differences in the "biological clock" within all their cells. The British Heart Foundation said the findings could offer a clue to ways of preventing heart disease. While doctors know that as people age they are more at risk from diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and heart disease, some people fall prey to these at an earlier age than expected.
Scientists identify first genetic variant linked to biological aging in humans PhysOrg - February 8, 2010
Scientists announced today they have identified for the first time definitive variants associated with biological aging in humans. The team analyzed more than 500,000 genetic variations across the entire human genome to identify the variants which are located near a gene called TERC.
People who look young for their age 'live longer' BBC - December 15, 2009
People blessed with youthful faces are more likely to live to a ripe old age than those who look more than their years, work shows. Danish scientists say appearance alone can predict survival, after they studied 387 pairs of twins. The researchers asked nurses, trainee teachers and peers to guess the age of the twins from mug shots. Those rated younger-looking tended to outlive their older-looking sibling, the British Medical Journal reports
Long-Lived Costa Ricans Offer Secrets to Reaching 100 National Geographic - April 14, 2008
At the age of 102, Abuela Panchita is still a social butterfly. The centenarian, who lives on Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula, has a solid support network of friends and family, which includes a son in his eighties who visits her every morning on his bicycle.
Longevity Evolved Late For Humans Science Daily - July 6, 2004
Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of California at Riverside have discovered a dramatic increase in human longevity that took place during the early Upper Paleolithic Period, around 30,000 B.C. In their study of more than 750 fossils to be published July 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, anthropologists Rachel Caspari and Sang-Hee Lee found a dramatic increase in longevity among modern humans during that time: the number of people surviving to an older age more than quadrupled. Caspari, an assistant research scientist at the U-M Anthropology Museum, said this increase in the number of relatively old people likely had a major impact, giving modern humans a competitive edge that ensured their evolutionary success. For the study, the researchers analyzed the ratio of older to younger adults in hominid dental samples from successive time periods: later australopithecines, Early and Middle Pleistocene Homo, Neandertals from Europe and Western Asia and post-Neandertal Early Upper Paleolithic Europeans. They used a new analytical resampling technique allowing them to assess the significance of differences in rates of molar wear.
Premature aging secret unlocked BBC - May 1, 2004
Two English scientists have unlocked the secret to a rare premature aging disease called Progeria. Researchers at Brunel University, west London, found how a mutated gene responsible for the condition works. It is hoped the discovery will help treatment for age-related conditions such as stroke and heart disease. The research will be published in Experimental Gerontology. Progeria affects about one in four million people. There are 40 known cases. The average life expectancy for someone with the condition is about 13 to 14 years old. Symptoms include baldness, aged-looking skin, dwarfism, and a small face and jaw relative to head size.
Measuring the tiny mechanisms in cells which hold the key to aging revealed BBC - January 20, 2003
Scientists have found a way to measure the tiny mechanism within the body's cells which many believe may hold the key to the aging process. The researchers believe the technique will help efforts to pin down the causes of disease such as cancer that become more common as we get older. It is widely thought that the number of times a cell can divide - and thus reinvigorate tissue - is controlled by the length of a microscopic structure called a telomere. These structures are found on the end of our chromosomes and in effect stop them from unravelling, acting in the same way as the shiny bit at the end of the bootlace. However, they get shorter each time a human cell duplicates. At a certain length the cell stops duplicating altogether. It is thought that this failure may be behind the aging process as cells which can no longer divide change the way they work and are capable of actively degrading the tissue/organ in which they reside. Therefore, it is an advantage to have longer telomeres, as this means cells will keep dividing for longer.
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