The conversations of life

Think you can beat ageing? Here’s why science says you can’t

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It’s mathematically impossible to stop ageing in multicellular organisms such as humans, based on new research from the University of Arizona.

Scientists had previously posed that ageing could potentially be halted if they could figure out a way to make selection between organisms perfect.

But the study authors say that two things happen to the body on a cellular level as it ages – first, cells slow down and start to lose function, like when your hair stops producing pigment and begins to grey or your skin makes less collagen, resulting in wrinkles.

Secondly, some cells increase their growth rate which can cause cancer cells to form – meaning that we all tend to develop these cells at some point even if they don’t cause symptoms.

A biological catch-22

Even if you got rid of the slow-functioning cells, this would accelerate the growth of any cancer cells – and vice versa.

“You can’t do them both at the same time,” lead researcher Paul Nelson said.

In short, things just break over time – and trying to fix them could just make things worse.

I think sometimes we tend to forget that ageing is a natural part of life.

Given the choice between cancer and senility, I’d say a few more lines on my face and worsening eyesight doesn’t sound so bad!

Lauren Broomham

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.


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