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Biogerontologists have been investigating aging scientifically for over a century, and in that time, they've identified seven primary causes of aging. The last cause was discovered in 1981, and no other causes have been found since, leading many to think that these may be the only ones. In the context of anti-aging research, it has been argued that, if therapies could be devised to remove the toxic effects associated with each of the causes, then lifespan could be extended indefinitely. The seven primary causes of aging, as listed by biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey, are cell loss, nuclear mutations and epimutations, mitochondrial mutations, extracellular junk, intracellular junk, cellular senescence, and extracellular cross-links.
As people grow older, muscular atrophy sets in, partially due to decreased levels of hormones and growth factors. Injecting growth factors or encouraging exercise may somewhat relieve this, although a long-term solution would likely require the use of stem cell therapy.
Due to a variety of causes, the genetic material in the nucleus of cells occasionally mutates, although this cause of aging is kept under control by the massive redundancy of cells in the body. Nuclear mutations are only truly dangerous when they create cancer cells, which can replicate and overtake the entire body. The proposed solution for this problem is to remove the genes for telomerase from all the cells of the body. Telomerase is used by cancer cells to ensure their capability to keep replicating.
The power plants of cells are mitochondria, organelles that produce ATP, the energy currency of all life. Like the nucleus of cells, mitochondria have some of their own genetic material, which is susceptible to mutation. Mutated mitochondria may get out of control and cause serious oxidation damage to tissues of the human body. The proposal for halting this cause of aging is to move mitochondrial DNA into the nucleus, a process that evolution has already been doing for millions of years. The task of bioengineers would merely be to complete it.
There are various kinds of intracellular and extracellular junk that build up in the body, one example being the amyloid plaque found in Alzheimer’s patients. To counteract this cause of aging, scientists propose finding enzymes capable of breaking down the offending molecules without damaging surrounding tissue. The search is currently underway.
The two final causes are cell senescence and extracellular crosslinks. In cell senescence, cells don’t die when they’re supposed to. Instead, these "death-resistant" cells stick around, taking up space and secreting potentially harmful proteins. To take them out requires either injecting something that makes these cells commit suicide while preserving surrounding cells, or stimulating the immune system to target them as they normally would.
Extracellular crosslinks are what causes an old person’s skin to become rough and wrinkled. Cells are normally held together by protein crosslinkages, but these can become too dense and lead to various health problems. The proposed solution is to find compounds (called AGE-breakers) that disintegrate the excess crosslinks.
If all the causes of aging can be addressed using biotechnological solutions, then human beings might be able to live for thousands of years — as long as they do not die from unnatural means.
Wow I didn’t know that. I know that eating a lot of sugary foods also tends to age the skin.
But I think that one of the leading causes of aging has to be sun exposure. They say that everyone should really apply sunscreen even when they are driving because sun exposure creeps up which leads to premature aging.
Yes, but these are not seven "causes." All seven listed here are symptoms, or are all being caused by what I believe is one culprit = Radiation Exposure.
Fact: Tiny radioactive particles from space called muons, which our atmosphere fails to protect us from, are raining through your body as you read this at rate of over a 100 hits per minute, per square foot of surface area, 24 hours a day. 6,000 hits per hour, 144,000 hits per day!
My theory: These fast moving particles pass through our bodies like cellular sized supersonic bullets smashing through our DNA stands, "causing" mutations, cellular loss, cancers, tumors, in fact all the symptoms we know as aging and death.
The Cause: As these atomic particles smash through our DNA library of how you look, how your cells function and replicate, those damaged strands weaken your genetic code, reading incorrectly and make the next you different by increments that are both gradual and accumulative.
Each organism on this planet suffers from accelerated aging, from plants to animals, insects and humans.
How do I know this? Putting the evidence together: This rapid aging speeds up for astronauts that work completely outside out protective layer. NASA is working right now on ways to protect them from this.
However organisms that live at the bottom of our oceans, which have more protection from these muons, grow larger and live much longer than their shallow water relatives.
Like the deep ocean giant tube worm:
The challenge: There is much more to be seen on this if one is willing to look. This theory answers so many questions, from aging to why all things decay. The evidence is in front of us: It is my belief that our potential lifespan and quality of life is 1/10th what it would be if we were to find a way to increase our atmospheric protection by a factor of 6-7 times.
I have been privately studying this topic for all my life. The advantages of increasing the protective layer around our Earth cannot be measured, and I can think of no scientific research more important for the advancement and survival of our species than this.
S. Will W., Denver