Is Aging a Disease?

Is Aging a Disease?References to “the disease of aging” still make many people uncomfortable. After all, aging is a natural process that has existed forever -so how can it be a disease?

In fact, aging has not existed forever. Approximately 4.5 billion years ago, a cell came into existence on Earth that was the progenitor of every living organism that has since existed. This cell had the ability to divide indefinitely. It exhibited no aging process; it could produce a theoretically infinite number of copies of itself, and it would not die until some environmental factor killed it. When the ancestry of any given cell is traced back to this very first living cell, this lineage is called the cell’s germ line.

Much later -perhaps three billion years later- some cells of the germ line began to form multicellular organisms: worms, beetles, lobsters, humans. The germ line, however, was still passed on from one generation to the next, and remained immortal. Even with the inclusion of multicellular organisms, the germ line itself exhibited no aging process.

But, in some multicellular organisms, such as humans, certain cells strayed from the germ line and began to exhibit signs of aging. These cells aged because they became afflicted with a disease: their ability to reproduce themselves indefinitely became broken. The cause of this disease is still speculative, but many scientists are searching for cures.

The fact that a disease has existed in the genetic code of an animal for a very long time does not mean that it is not a disease. Thousands of diseases, from hemophilia to cystic fibrosis, have lurked in our genes for far longer than recorded history. These diseases should be cured, and aging is no exception.


About The Author

Katherine Baltazar

I am a media reporter writing for the Hair, Beauty and Spa Industry. I've been writing and covering salons, beauty products and hair treatments for the pace 5 years.