Genetic Health Aging Cell Division Errors

Cellular division, or mitosis, is the process in which a cell divides into two or more cells. Cellular division allows for the continual repair, construction and maintenance of the human body. Cellular division begins to slow as life progresses and eventually comes to a halt. For humans, this process typically begins to occur after about 50 cellular divisions. This phenomenon is medically recognized as the Hayflick Limit, named after its discovery in 1965 by Leonard Hayflick. After this limit has been reached, the cells are then identified as having become “senescent.”

Cellular Division and Aging

Research has shown that during this ongoing process of human cellular division, errors or altered expressions sometimes occur as the genes age. In scientific terms, this process is called “organismal senescence” and is most commonly referred to as “aging.” Aging is generally recognized as the declining ability of the human body to respond effectively to stress. Some other effects associated with aging are the following:

  • bone disorders
  • decrease in body tone
  • decrease in tissue flexibility
  • hardening of blood vessels
  • hearing impairments
  • loss of memory
  • organ problems
  • visual impairments.

Family History and Cell Division Errors

There are several types of genetic disorders that can affect the natural progression of age- and health- related issues for affected individuals. Research on this is continuing, and while it has not been proven that environmental factors do not affect a person’s chances of errors in cellular division, their occurrence is mainly due to genetics.

When a fetus develops in the mother’s womb, it receives one gene from each parent. In some cases there are individuals (one parent or another) that carry errors in their genetic makeup and have afflictions that have been expressed in their life with health challenges. Others can have genetic errors that are asymptomatic, or have not expressed any symptoms at all. It is important to keep your family history in mind when considering aging disorders associated with cell division errors. Fortunately, in most cases, if one of your parents has such a disorder, it is not guaranteed that you will also suffer from it.

Examples of Aging Illnesses

There are several diseases caused by the natural progression of cellular division, or aging in general. Some of these are osteoporosis, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Osteoporosis:This disease is marked by the decrease of minerals in the bones of the human body. Some of the symptoms of osteoporosis include:

    • bone fractures
    • decreasing height over the years
    • neck pain
    • severe back pain.

    Osteoporosis is a common condition for those in their older years. It can be caused by one’s body frame or some environmental factors. It is mostly hereditary, however, and can be caused due to collagen mutations, or genetic abnormalities of estrogen or vitamin D receptors. This vitamin is known to have positive effects on bone density.

  • Arthritis:Another aging disorder with strong hereditary causes is arthritis, a disease caused by inflammation of the joints in the human body. There are over 100 types of arthritis, and although the disease affects all ages, most cases are experienced by the elderly. Researchers believe that this disease may be caused by genetic, environmental and physiological factors. However, scientists believe that they have located a gene, HLA-DRB1, which may predispose a person to developing arthritis.

  • Alzheimer’s disease:This disease is the most common form of dementia, and is related to decrease in brain function. Along with memory loss, the most well-known symptom of Alzheimer’s, there are several other indicators, including:

    • aggression
    • confusion
    • difficulty in speaking
    • mood swings.

Scientists are still working on finding the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, but it is known that the disease basically destroys brain cells. There are various risk factors, but one of the main ones is genetics. Researchers have discovered that the gene APOE-e4 is considered a risk gene, meaning that it increases a person’s chance of getting the disease.

Individuals who are affected by the progression of age-related problems or illness or have experienced health related issues associated with a genetic disorder should visit a health care provider immediately in order to undergo a comprehensive medical examination. A positive health outcome is more probable if you consult with your doctor regarding surgical, dietary, pharmaceutical and other medical remedies.

Your Health: It’s Up to You!

Regardless of your genetic makeup and your likelihood of suffering from conditions related with cellular division, there are certain things that you can do in order to remain active and healthy in old age:

  • avoid tobacco and alcohol
  • exercise regularly
  • keep up with social and family relationships
  • keep stress levels at a minimum
  • maintain a healthy diet.

Fitness is one of the most important aspects of this healthy lifestyle. According to a recent study, one’s fitness level has a direct relationship with cognitive ability in old age. Those who exercised more often had better cognitive function. We each are given one body, and although aging is inevitable, there are steps you can take to make the process as smooth as possible.

Resources

Aldridge, S. (2009). Staying fit can keep you mentally healthy in old age. Retrieved July 17, 2009, from the Health and Age Web site: http://www.healthandage.com/staying-fit-can-keep-you-mentally-healthy-in-old-age.

Alzheimer’s Association. (2008). Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease. Retrieved July 17, 2009, from the Alzheimer’s Association Web site: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_causes_risk_factors.asp.

Breakthrough Digest. (2008). The HLA-DRB1 gene and premature death in rheumatoid arthritis. Retrieved July 17, 2009, from the Breakthrough Digest Web site: http://www.breakthroughdigest.com/arthritis-joint-diseases/the-hla-drb1-gene-and-premature-death-in-rheumatoid-arthritis/.

Gonter, N. (2006) Is osteoporosis hereditary? Retrieved July 17, 2009, from the Osteoporosis Connection Web site: http://www.healthcentral.com/osteoporosis/c/73/2273/hereditary.

National Human Genome Research Institute. (2008). How do chromosome abnormalities happen? Retrieved July 17, 2009, from the National Human Genome Research Institute: http://www.genome.gov/11508982.

Rubin, H. (2006). The process of aging – biological aging. Retrieved July 17, 2009, from The Rubins Web site: http://www.therubins.com/aging/proc4.htm.

Shiel, W. (n.d.). Arthritis. Retrieved July 17, 2009, from the Medicine Net Web site: http://www.medicinenet.com/arthritis/article.htm.