Genes cause aging? New research suggests so

Share this content:
While no one knows for certain what causes us to age, prevailing wisdom suggests it's a buildup of stresses and the cumulative effects of disease. The surprising results of a recent study, however, say otherwise.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found a compound called elt-3 in the bodies of worms that is responsible for turning certain age-related genes off and on. Because elt-3 accumulates in the body as it ages, researchers believe it could be a significant factor in aging. The worms were subject to common stressors believed to cause age, including radiation and heat, but that did not seem to affect the age-related genes.

The genetic theory of aging has had a difficult time gaining acceptance in the field of gerontology because it suggests that evolution favors deterioration with age. Researchers point to certain turtles and whales that can live up to 200 years and clams that can live past 400 as examples of animals exposed to similar age stressors as humans but that survive and thrive for much longer. Researchers say this discovery could help slow and manage the aging process.