Ageing : the paradox of life by Robin Holliday

By Robin Holliday

For hundreds of years humans were wondered by way of the inevitability of human getting older. for many of the second one 1/2 the 20 th century getting older remained a secret, or an unsolved organic challenge. on the finish of the 20 th century a extraordinary medical discovery emerged. It used to be now not a unmarried discovery within the ordinary feel, since it used to be in accordance with a sequence of vital interconnected insights over fairly an extended time period. those insights made it attainable for the first actual time to appreciate the organic purposes for getting older in animals and guy. it might probably already be stated, despite the fact that, that the various observations and insights that specify getting older aren't accredited as verified wisdom for a very long time. the sector remains to be choked with scientists, and non-scientists, who're simply satisfied to head on speculating concerning the 'mystery' of getting older. the purpose of this booklet is to dispel lack of information through explaining in non-technical language what are the explanations for getting older and the parable of over the top prolongation of existence.

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It is thought that mitochondrial DNA damage is largely 30 Chapter 4 due to the formation of reactive oxygen radicals from respiration. Although these radicals are short lived, they can also damage other cellular components, such as cell membranes, proteins and the DNA in chromosomes. Cancer is a major age-associated disease, apart from childhood leukaemias and some other fairly uncommon types of tumour. Epidemiologists have known for a long time that the rising incidence of the one of the commonest types of tumours (carcinomas) with age can be explained on the basis of several sequential events (in the range 4–6).

This helps provide a constant body environment, independent of outside influences. At first sight, it seems paradoxical that warm-blooded mammals and birds are so adaptable to changes in outside temperature. Many species, including man, can survive from the tropics to the arctic. It is the control of body temperature which makes this possible, whereas cold-blooded vertebrates are at the mercy of the temperature of their surroundings and therefore less adaptable. (It is even possible that this was a major reason for the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the selective survival of warm blooded animals).

This depends on DNA, but also information that is chemically superimposed on DNA, known as DNA modification or DNA methylation. As well as normal epigenetic events, there are also abnormal ones that can be referred to as epigenetic defects and these can be inherited from cell to cell. It is now known that epigenetic defects are very important in the development of tumours. Thus, one or more of the 4–6 events just mentioned could be epigenetic. It is also likely that these defects are an important component of ageing itself.

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