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November 2002

Mechanisms of Aging

Author Affiliations

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Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(11):1429-1432. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.11.1429

AGING, A COMPLEX process that defines those changes observed throughout the organism's life span, represents a biologic attrition at the cellular level resulting in cellular senescence and/or death. Aging is regarded by many as a cancer preventative mechanism,1 as genomic DNA is continuously damaged by environmental insults as well as by internal oxidative metabolism and at the same time, DNA repair capacity deteriorates with age. If not properly repaired, DNA damage may lead to mutation formation in dividing cells and eventually to cancer.2,3 Also, cumulative DNA damage would eventually interfere with appropriate gene and protein function resulting in failure of the cell to divide or perform its differentiated functions and leading to homeostatic failure.2