Aging is an important biological problem for in-depth study, the stimulation of which is accompanied by the human desire to solve an eternal existential crisis. Aging, in general, is an integral part of any living system, but research into the mechanisms and algorithms that determine age and contribute to this process is of great importance for academic communities. This is primarily justified not only by the desire of people to solve the perennial problem of aging, and not even by the desire to defeat aging but by the fact of the intensification of chronic diseases that naturally accompany the body as it grows older.
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Thus, in chapter eight of the textbook, the authors examine in detail the various inflammatory processes that they suggest are a function of aging. This includes a host of pathological conditions that increase with age, be they diabetes, cancer, and bone and brain fiber dysfunction (Bengtson & Settersten, 2016). It is hard to argue with this, given world practice: indeed, many grandparents begin to become more ill precisely as they get older, even though their lifestyle may not change significantly. This is especially true in today’s world, where there is a rapidly aging population as a consequence of better access to medicine and improved quality of life. Thus, according to the authors of the textbook, about one in five people in the world shortly will be elderly, which means that this immediately raises the issue of providing a better quality of life for this age category, taking into account all the biological features of aging.
In general, it is worth saying that the problem of aging is one of the longest in terms of study, because according to the textbook, even in ancient civilizations, thinkers tried to determine the causes of aging and thus slow it down. Because of the long history of this question, which already seems to have become fundamental to biology, a large number of experimental ideas appear to this day: all these together form the facets of aging science as part of the biological sciences. In particular, one of the most recognized ideas is the evolutionary theory of aging. It is a comprehensive doctrine that combines ecological principles of communities, ideas of substitutability, and the teachings of Darwin.
It seems strange that for biological sciences, which view evolution as an axiom, aging seems contradictory from this point of view: if aging is evidence of a dysfunctional living system, it is interesting to know why evolution has preserved it. Such a theory offers several answers, among which it highlights adaptation, limitation, and dysfunctional adaptation. Adaptation seems a very logical theory since, from this perspective, the suppression of the biological comfort of old individuals’ lives promotes the flourishing of the young. Disruption of adaptation, contrary to the name, is not strictly the opposite thought: it postulates that there is impaired selection, which promotes the survival of older individuals through the accumulation of mutations, but it is these mutations that may eventually become detrimental to aging. Finally, there is a version that believes that aging is a mistake, a side effect of adaptation, which means that it may not have been initially planned by nature as a natural process.
That being said, most of the ideas obtained are already valid for mammals but still need to be tested to see if they can be extrapolated to the human body. It is true that methods already exist for delaying aging for some animals through medication and genetic manipulation, and transferring these findings to humans is now of paramount importance to the science of aging. One cannot take the results on life extension for rats and approximate them to humans, as this may not only fail to produce positive outcomes but may also cause harm. Instead, it is suggested that one explores the problem of aging more deeply and makes more constructive discoveries in various areas that have the potential to solve the problem of aging.
After carefully reading all of this week’s material, only one thesis seemed the most relevant to clarify. In chapter seven, the authors ask: “…if natural selection favors optimal organismal function, does aging not simply evolve away?” (Bengtson & Settersten, 2016, p. 113 ) This statement links evolution to the disappearance of aging as a dysfunction of human life, but the authors seem to disagree. Indeed, aging is a dysfunctional state in terms of classical biology: the exacerbation of all inflammatory diseases, along with the accumulation of harmful mutations, confirm this. There is nothing random in nature, and any processes and phenomena must always have a root cause. This is why aging must be seen as an ecosystem-wide effort to support young populations. At the same time, all the other factors the author talks about, whether it is the rapid aging of the population or improvements in the quality of life, are not biotic in nature but anthropogenic in nature. Thus, the listed exceptions show the neglect of the forces of natural selection in human communities in the short term, as is the case, for example, with drugs and gene therapy.
Bengtson, V. L., & Settersten Jr, R. (2016). Handbook of theories of aging. Springer Publishing Company.
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