Environmental Toxins May Contribute to Aging

Chronological age is determined by birth date. Biological age is established by physiological and molecular cells within the individual. The latter is influenced by the exposure of damaging substances in the environment, such as chemicals, cigarette smoke, or even stress (gerontogens).

Aging occurs when the body goes through a biological mechanism called senescence. During this process, healthy cells become impaired and they lose their ability to divide. Over a period of time, these impaired cells begin to compile, using resources and releasing hormones with inflammatory characteristics. This majorly contributes to aging and age related diseases.

Someday, scientists hope that blood tests will help identify the biomarkers that make people age at different rates. The results could be used to quantify important pathways affected in the process of cellular agedness and DNA chemical modifications. By identifying which gerontogens to avoid, the aging process and life expectancy can be manipulated.

According to researchers, cigarette smoke is likely the most significant gerontogen due to its large association with diseases of aging. Another important gerontogens include chemotherapy and UV radiation. Benzene is a chemical that is emitted from scented candles. Its harshness and lingering quality is what makes it another strong gerontogen contender. However, more investigation needs to be done in order to understand the epidemiology of increased aging, as well as the scientific uses for these molecular tests.