A question that has probably popped into everyone’s head at some point is, when will I die?Although asking this question to yourself kind of sucks, it’s an interesting question to ask because we all die at different times. But why does our body say it’s time to go at one point in the future and how come it varies? I actually wouldn’t want to know the specific date that I die because then I feel like it’s just a countdown to death. However, I do want to figure out why our bodies actually age and can anything be done with it.
Overall, scientists agree that in our body it’s the wear and tear of our cells that when they break down, so does our body. Through the first theory cross link hypothesis, scientists believe that our structural molecules, for example our DNA and proteins, develop certain attractions that aren’t good with each other. With these unnecessary bonds, our proteins and other molecules now lose elasticity. This means proteins lose the ability to move back into its original shape and position. According to the article, Why and How Do We Age, author and PhD Steven Austad explains that since these proteins are now damaged and can’t return to normal, they begin to break down by enzymes called proteases and stick around. With them sticking around Steven Austad says this can cause many problems in the body.
Another theory concerning the question why we age is called The Replicative Senescence Hypothesis. We see that cells have a limit of reproducing themselves when dividing and to determine this, scientists look at the length of cells’ telomere. Telomeres are the structure at the end of the chromosome. Author Steven Austad says that every time a chromosome reproduces itself, it will lose a part of the telomere. Austad talks about how this can be a problem because once it reaches a certain short length, the cells can no longer replicate its chromosome. Overall, scientists believed that this theory explained a sort of clock that cells had which leads to the reason why overtime we age and eventually die. However, this theory is not very popular among scientists who study this question.
A Longitudinal Study performed by Baltimore’s Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), they began to observe people with no health issues over a long period of time compared to those with hearing loss and other hearing problems in order to figure out how their brains compare. The BLSA took brain scans of the two groups and found out that those who keep a healthy lifestyle with no problems lose the same amount of brain volume during aging, compared to those who have already had health problems. Other ways scientists look for answers of why we age, they look for certain mechanisms that also lead to aging, an example being one’s fitness or metabolism.
There are many factors that can change when a person might die, but scientists still argue over the exact reason why our bodies age and turn old, eventually leading to death. A lot of the theories can get confusing, but I did my best to explain a couple for you.