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Thread: SIGNS AND SCIENCE OF AGING (a biological perspective)

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    Default SIGNS AND SCIENCE OF AGING (a biological perspective)

    I know when i was a child, my favourite song had been 'forever young' by alphaville. Just recently, Jay-Z made it a sensation, though I loved the old version better. It always had me thinking why we grew old. I used to watch my grannys wrinkled face and wonder if there was ever a drug or potion that could make one beautiful and young again!! The truth of the matter is, I began to accept aging as a normal part of the life process. We are born, we grow old, and we die. That was what I was taught in sunday school anyway! But as the years crept by, I realized some people looked older than others their own age. What really influenced that? Could knowledge of it actually help us figure out a way to manipulate this 'natural phenomenon'? or it will still be fruitless even if we discovered what it was. That is one question medical science has tried to answer. With the birth of the 'baby boomer' population, most people are obsessed with looking younger especially movie stars in hollywood, (i dont know about nollywood and gollywood j/k). And pharmaceutical companies have made obscene profits from the manufacture of 'anti-aging' drugs, both topical and systemic. So how do we know if these actually help, how do we know its safe? how do we know we have discovered the TRUTH about aging? Let us look into it:
    Aging is commonly defined as the progressive change in the life of an individual organism which leads to a deterioration to its physical structure. This definition is the BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE. However, other sciences define age differently. the SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE defines age as the expected behavioural changes that come with advancement in years, in other words, you acquire different behaviour patterns as you grow which distinguishes you from the younger generation. My consideration however is from the biological perspective since that is what most people are most concerned about. So what are the signs of aging? Most define it based on the number of wrinkles on their faces, or accumulation of grey hair. But infact aging is better understood and defined at the cellular and molecular level, I will explain the processes later.
    Cells replicate, meaning they divide to give rise to daughter cells that are genetically identical to each other. This mechanism works to replace old cells that die off. However, there is a limit to the number of cell divisions in ones lifetime! This leads us to conclude that, the limit to the amount of cellular division determines ones longevity. So why dont the cells keep multiplying? what happens that causes them to 'get old 'die off? A recent discovery of an enzyme, TELOMERASE has greatly influenced our thinking of the aging process as genetically coded. A somatic cell undergoes an average of 400 cell divisions. So think about this.. what at all causes the cell division, and what is the need for it? Basically, the cell is an autonomous unit of life, and it is the smallest (approximately 10micrometers). It divides itself and shares the same amount and content of its information with the new cell produced so it can take up its role. This information is located within the DNA. Picture the DNA as a long thread, containing sections which have information to give instructions to your body as what and what not to do. It mediates every chemical process in the body, including syntheis of hormones, metabolism pathways, etc. So when the workload becaomes too much, the cells recieve information from 'cytoplasmic determinants' or stuff in that find their way into your body and trigger the cell to start altering their activity. Its like feeling cold in winter, so to counteract your shivering, you wear a jacket! These 'stresses' cause the cell to increase the 'task force' by replicating new daughter cells to help accomplish the mission. [But there is one problem] The more the DNA is utilized, the shorter it gets, which logically means it loses most of its encoded information! So it becomes 'demented' and not able to do what its supposed to do in the body. At that point, it must be 'executed' to prevent it from replicating other 'demented cells like itself with confused roles, this is a defensive mechanism your body uses to maintain the integrity of your system, (kill off faulty cells before they cause harm). The inability to do this is what results in cancer. The faulty cells become unable to determine when they are to divide, or perform a particular function to help your body adapt to stress. They multiply so rapidly that they begin to form TUMORS, and that is the beginning of cancer. So how does TELOMERASE fit into the picture? As i said earlier, the more your cells divide, the more genetic information you lose, and the shorter the DNA strands become. But the ends of your DNA strands have a special sequence which are relatively called TELOMERES. At birth, your telomeres are longer, but with each successive division and passing time, they get shorter. But did you know that there are certain cells in your body that do not divide at all? these are the cells that remain with you throughout life, and they have a longer lifespan than somatic cells! examples are your neurones, muscle cells (which take about 15 years to be replaced) and liver cells. When liver cells get damaged, they then activate their mechanisms to begin cell division to replace the damaged cells. When the telomeres have gotten really short, then the cell knows it has reached its limit, and either commits suicide or calls for its neighboring cells to kill it. Funny enough, you will expect that cancerous cells should die off quickly too since they divide extremely rapidly. But this does not happen! the cells find a way of keeping themselves alive by activating TELOMERASE which makes the telemores longer, which makes them incapable of dying, also known as IMMORTALIZATION. So, the normal cells actually reach their limit and when the do, they quickly die off! but it doesnt mean at a point in time, every single cell in your body stops dividing. Instead, cell division slows down drastically and you experience what is called aging. So the question now comes. If we manipulate telomerase, can we achieve results in warding off aging? the answer is a yes, and a NO! the consequence of doing that increases the chances of getting cancer up by about 67%!
    So how does this apply to dermatology, which fights aging on the outward appearance? The most significant cells in your skin are the fibroblasts, keratinocytes and melanocytes. There are other immune cells in the dermal layers that ward off skin infection too, but they are not the target. Some of the most commonly used drugs are retinoids and hydroquinones. Retinoids are like retinols in structure (vitamin A)-also used in treating clour blindness. They are used to treat a majority of conditions such as psoriasis, skin inflammations, etc.They also activate tumor suppressor genes which prevent and highly regulate cell divisions and metabolism, esp in fibroblast cells. They cause them to lay down collagen fibers that make the skin look firmer and less wrinkly, while making the skin look younger. It does so by decreasing the adhesion of cells on the surface or 'old cells' exposing the newer underlying cell layers. Its high regulation of cell division patterns reduces the aging process and also the likelihood of cancerous cells forming. Aside these advantages, it also has its disadvantages. Like Vitamin A and all its derivatives, accumulated levels is highly toxic, and it is seen in skin irritations, lesions, pappilloedema etc after prolonged use. HYDROQUINONES on the other hand work against hyperpigmentation, and target the melanocytic cells (they cause pigmentation of the skin by producing melanin). Hydroquinone reduces their metabolism, thereby producing less pigmentation throughout the area of application and causes the fair toning of the skin [Michael Jackson would've loved to hear this-- <jokes>].
    Nevertheless, real aging is internal, it is a natural physiological process. How healthy you are in the inside reflects on the outside, espthrough apperance of your skin and general physique. People pay more attention to how their skin look than how healthy their bodies are. Remember, eating in moderation increases your chances of longevity. DO not overwork your body to metabolize everything you eat, and drink plenty of water to allow for the natural hydration of your body and skin connective tissue so as to make them look healthy and function properly. also, eat fruits a lot of fruits, the vitamin c in them help your specialized cells synthesize quality collagen to reduce wrinkles and have a firmer and smoother looking skin!!!!!

  2. #2
    Bipolar Neo's Avatar
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    Thanks Doctor Mills. I thoroughly enjoyed this, some good quasi age defying tips for us all.

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