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Biological Theories Of Aging

Aging is the process by which one organisms transitions through the stages of its natural lifespan and eventually dies. Naturally this will be a topic of great concern to all humans and many have sought to get to the root of this problem. How do we stop it? To do so we must understand why it happens and this is proving to be no easy matter. The main theories attempting to explain the process of aging are generally thought to be The wear and Tear theory, and the Programmed Theory, though they are not the only ones.

Wear and Tear

As we use our organs for various activities, some parts that will wear out faster than others and become damaged, thus putting more stress on the rest of the body. When enough damaged parts accumulate, the entire system can fail resulting in death. This is a perfectly acceptable explanation to most people today since it is what naturally happens around us.

Rate of Respiration

The rate of oxygen metabolism also seems to play a role in lifespan where faster metabolism means shorter lifespan though it does not explain an organism’s maximum lifespan.

Free radicals

In this explanation it is hypothesized that free radicals present in the cells of an organism can damage larger molecules in the cell structure. These minor changes eventually cause cellular damage, which can eventually lead to organ failure.


This theory states that our entire aging process from growth through adulthood to old age and eventually death is in some way controlled by set systems in our bodies. Certain genes are switched on or off at particular stages and these genes regulate how and when we age.


Hormones play many key roles in our bodily functions and it is proposed that our biological clock utilizes hormones to control our growth and aging processes. Research has confirmed that a certain type of insulin plays a key role in regulating our aging process.

Immune Decay

The immune system is designed to become less reliable over time. As the body ages the immune system is less able to fight off new diseases and makes the person more likely to be killed by a disease that a younger person can easily recover from. As we age our antibodies become less efficient at fighting off pathogens which puts our cells under stresses that result in many complications, eventually resulting in death.

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