JUN 11, 2016 10:19 AM PDT

What Does it Mean to Grow Old?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

We all accept that aging is a natural part of growing up. The human body is not built to last forever. In fact, we top out around 90 years of age. There are some incredible people who have surpassed this milestone, though these centenarians are few and rare. The record for the most years of age belongs to a Jeanne Calment from France who lived 122 years and 164 days. Calment's impressively lengthy lifespan warranted her the title of a supercentenarian.

Biological aging is a complex process that scientists are still trying to figure out. There are many factors to a person's lifespan, including their genetics, their epigenetics, and their environment. What we often see as signs of aging, such as sagging skin, grey hair, are outward manifestations of the internal aging of cells. This involves mutations that we inherently acquire as we live and grow. And over time, the stress on the DNA and cells cause chain reactions that affect the turnover of cells. The older we get, cellular renewal seems to become less frequent and less efficient, making us feel and look old.

But while scientists are working out the exact mechanics of aging, it's important to remember that growing old is actually a privilege that not everyone is given.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 14, 2019
Why a Metal Asteroid Tops NASA's Must-Explore List
Innumerable amounts of asteroids exist in the asteroid belt that resides between Mars and Jupiter in orbit around the Sun, but one specimen in particular a...
NOV 14, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 14, 2019
Greenland's Summer Melt Helps Scientists Track Sea Level Rise
This summer, the Greenland Ice Sheet experienced a significant melting event not seen since 2002, mainly due to the heatwave that swept through most of Eur...
NOV 14, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 14, 2019
How Desert Ant Queens Establish a Colony
When a founding desert ant queen is ready to establish her own colony, the harsh environment compels her to do something that no other queen would ever dar...
NOV 14, 2019
Cardiology
NOV 14, 2019
Protein Build-Up Places Heart at Risk
Amyloidosis is a disease caused by protein buildup in the body. These abnormal proteins, called amyloids, are produced in the bone marrow. Multiple types o...
NOV 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 14, 2019
ESA's Solar Orbiter is Nearly Ready to Launch
Move over Parker Solar Probe, there’s a new Sun-orbiting spacecraft in town. The European Space Agency has completed the assembly of the Solar Orbite...
NOV 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 14, 2019
What You Need to Know About NASA's Upcoming WFIRST Space Telescope
There are several space telescopes observing the cosmos at the very time of this writing, and there are plans to launch even more of them in the near futur...
Loading Comments...