Aging Skin - Cosmetics Unmasked
Every living thing goes through the process of ageing . in humans we notice the gradual loss of hair colour, the increasing appearance of wrinkles accompanied by a loss of elasticity of the skin, a reduction in muscle tone, and the deterioration in hearing, eyesight, and mental faculties.
There have been many theories as to why we age, such as the build up of toxins in our bodies over the years, the gradual erosion of our tissues by wear and tear and illnesses, and the steady decline in our immune system's ability to fight disease.
We now know that ageing happens on a cellular level. Inside each cell is a nucleus which contains chromosomes. These are made of long strands of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which are giant molecules that carry the plans for building a new cell to repair or replace tissue, or allow an individual to grow. The DNA starts this process by making a copy of itself within the cell.
When the copy is complete there are two sets of chromosomes which move to opposite sides of the cell. The cell slowly oozes apart, splitting in two separate cells, each with its own set of chromosomes. These two new cells grow and divide again, becoming four cells, and so on as this process is repeated. Once we are fully grown, the cell division slows down, making just enough new cells to replace these that die from time to time, or to replace c ells that have been damaged.
Until recently we believed DNA made exact copies of itself, but this is not in fact the case. The new DNA molecules are built on top of the old strands rather like each layer of a house of cards is built on top of the layer below. The house of cards naturally forms a pyramid shape because each layer is slightly shorter than the layer beneath it. They cannot be the same length because there is nothing to support the cards at either end.
It is the same for DNA molecules. When the new molecule is built on top of the old strand, it is a fraction shorter because the ends cannot be supported . So each new generation of DNA is slightly shorter than the previous generation. Luckily, these ends, called telomers, are redundant and do not carry important genetic information so the new cells are fully functional in all respects. Eventually , however, after about a hundred divisions, the the redundant telomer ends of the DNA strands become so short they vanish altogether.
The next generation which is shorter still means some of the important genetic information at the end of the strand is now missing. The new cell is faulty and the ageing process begins, Fewer skin cells are produced and the outer layer of the skin becomes thin and easily damaged, leading to bruising and discoloration. The living cells in the dermis layer produce less collagen fibres - the protein that gives younger skin its elasticity. The quality of hair cells deteriorate, compromising the colour, texture, and quantity of our hair. In short, we start to look old.
Life span, grey hair, baldness, and wrinkles run in families. They are inherited from our parents along with the DNA that controls them. Currently there are no drugs or cosmetics chemicals that can correct faulty DNA and halt the ageing process. The best that cosmetics can do for you is to hide the grey with hair dyes and smooth over the fine lines and wrinkles with creams, make-up, fillers, and cosmetic surgery.
Scientists Beat The Ageing Process
Breakthrough technology has enabled scientists to genetically alter human cells, allowing them to reproduce indefinitely without ageing. They discovered an enzyme called telomerase, which repairs the telomer ends of DNA.
The ageing process is stopped by inserting the gene which makes telomerase in to cells. Assuming there are no catastrophic side effects, and that gene can be inserted into every cell in a human body, there is no reason why we cannot live forever in young bodies - until we are run down in the street.
Reference: Cosmetics Unmasked: Dr stephen & Gina Antczak
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