Why Do We Age?

Mina Amer

Gray hair, slow movement, wrinkles, and hearing decline. Those are what most people know about aging, the process of getting older, but why do we age?

Many biologists try to explain the biological basis of aging. One group of theorists believe that humans are pre-programmed to age because the levels of hormones start to decline, and errors (called mutations) start to accumulate in our bodies. Most importantly, however, is the fact that the cells fail to divide any further. Every time the cell divides, a little piece at the end of the chromosome (where genes are located) gets lost. It reaches a point where nothing can be lost anymore, and the cell ages. Some scientists are studying an enzyme (a protein with a specific job) that can renew the lost pieces of the chromosomes. This enzyme is called Telomerase, and it is the same enzyme that causes tumor cells to never stop dividing. Scientists are asking the following question: if we somehow use this enzyme for the normal cells, could it be the key to immortality? Not surprisingly, this question is ethically controversial.

Another reason behind aging is actually a normal gene that we all have. This gene codes for a protein called mTOR, which is very important for growth when we are young, but it is the key player of aging later in life.

Aging is an inevitable natural process that all people experience during their lifespan. It has its advantages, such as an increase in skills, experiences, and wisdom, but there are some disadvantages, such as a decrease in physical abilities and reaction time. Healthy diet and exercise have been found to diminish the problems that accompany aging

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