Sunwarrior Ireland

What Causes Aging and Death?

  "What Causes Aging and Death?"  Chapter Two - Part One

by Peter Ragnar

You might retort, "Aren't you being audacious, claiming to have a Pro-Youthing solution when we are still at odds as to what causes aging and death?"  Well, you're certainly correct about our confusion on the subject, and the need for accurate assessment in regard to aging and death. 


"Untold theories abound, ranging from the rational to the idiotic." 

As quoted in my course Is Eternal Youth a Possibility?  Consciousness Seeks Its Perfect Expression:  "Science cannot find any reason for aging and death to occur.  As an example, Ricklefs and Finch in their book, Aging: A Natural History state, 'Next to the miracle of life itself, aging and death are perhaps the greatest mysteries.'  In the book How and Why We Age, the famous Dr. Leonard Hayflick adds, "It is not obvious why aging and death should occur...we know of no good reason why aging should happen.'  Nobel Prize winner Dr. Alexis Carrel states, 'The cell is immortal.  It is merely the fluid in which it floats that degenerates...and so far as we now know, the pulsation of life may go on forever.'  Dr. George W. Crile, in reference to Dr. Carrel, says, "There is no natural death.  All deaths from so-called natural causes are merely the end point of progressive acid saturation.'"


Unfortunately, Dr. Carrel wasn't alive when Dr. Michael West's book The Immortal Cell: One Scientist's Quest to Solve the Mystery of Human Aging hit the bookstores. 


"It certainly appears that the issues are far more complicated than these simple assertions indicate." 


Dr. Carrel would be happy to know that he was correct in asserting that the cell was immortal.  They just happen to be stem cells in their juvenile state before they differentiate into any of the other cells that construct our physical bodies.  Of course, once they assume identity, it appears as if an aging clock in the cell's nucleus begins ticking.  It's what Dr. Leonard Hayflick discovered about human fibroblasts (cells that become connective tissue) in a tissue culture; they wouldn't divide more than 50 times on average.


"In order to survive, our cells must keep making copies of themselves and get rid of the cellular garbage they create."


Unlike Hayflick's discovery in human cells, the earth is well populated with immortal single-celled animals that can keep the copies of their genetic codes intact and proliferate forever.  These "immortal germ line" cells may soon disclose their secrets to scientists, as may the immortal cancer cells of Henrietta Lack (known as "HeLa cells") which formed the basis of cancer research.


"Remember, it is in the nucleus that our genetic code is hidden."


This is where a major amount of research is being focused.  The number of cell doublings is determined by what happens within the cell's nucleus.  As cells reach the "Hayflick limit," the connective tissue cells produce the yellowish pigment or age spots that you see on the skin of old people - ugly splotches of discoloration, signposts of aging.  Yet consider this scientific observation: cancer cells don't age. 


"Why? Because they have the ability to maintain the integrity of the chromosomes."


Chromosomes are a threadlike DNA structure that contains and preserves the genes of the organism.  Let me introduce you to telomeres.  Telomeres are what you find at the ends of the chromosomes.  You can think of telomeres as the plastic end caps of a shoelace.  If the ends become frayed, the lace becomes difficult to insert through the eyelet and is generally discarded.  When this happens to the end of the chromosome, the end section or telomere gets cut off, shortening the chromosome.  Every time our cells divide, the telomeres shorten, damaging the cell and leaving cellular debris, thus leaving an acidic environment that requires the antioxidant cleanup crew.


"Telomeres are constructed of a sequence of nucleic acids."


Nucleic acids are what make DNA and RNA.  How can we prevent the destruction of such an invaluable cell component?  Science has discovered an enzyme presently found only in "germ-line cells" and cancer cells which allows for their repair and protection indefinitely.  Thus, telomerase is an "immortalizer."  However, this isn't good with a cancer cell, which defies the "Hayflick limit" of 50 cell doublings.  However, scientists speculate that the enzyme telomerase, by its ability to preserve the cells' integrity, can make even the body's differentiated cells immortal.  It's a matter of discovering how to turn it on in healthy cells and turn it off in a cancer cell.

To Be Continued...