Sunday, April 6, 2014
Why Do We Age?
When I was in high school I learned that every man would eventually develop prostate cancer if he lived long enough, because it is inevitable with age. I was, in a way, relieved. Immortality terrified me more than certain death. I understand that we age, but I still have trouble not attributing it to "wear and tear" the beginning of the Why Do We Age? article falsifies. After reproduction, we have succeeded in doing what we were made to do - produce fit offspring - and thus, it makes sense for our bodies to deteriorate as they are no longer needed. Regardless, I found the article to provide in interesting insight into senescence. As for increased chances of acquiring a malignant tumor or growth, maybe the pleiotropic theory is accurate. Perhaps there is a mechanism, in the endocrine or reproductive systems, which is beneficial for reproduction but deleterious later in life. What I found most interesting in the article was life-history plasticity. In the experiment with nematodes, I expected them to age more rapidly under such intense caloric restriction. However, when I more closely examine the situation, they needed to reproduce before they aged too much. This article made me think more than some others we have read, about age, death, and number of offspring. I think when examining senescence it is most imperative to take reproduction into account, as that is our primary purpose, as animals. While genetics, environment, personal fitness and lifestyle certainly play a role in aging, I think of aging as less of a purpose-fulfilling stage and more of an after-effect to a (hopefully) wonderful life.