You Can’t Have Your Cells and Age Them Too

By Kurtis Chien

Along the current model of evolutionary biology, it is mathematically impossible to stop aging. As people age, their cells gradually lose function and stop dividing. The accumulation of inefficient cells is expressed through changes in appearance and physical fortitude. A proposed method of slowing aging would be to remove cells that have lost function. In theory, this method could work to promote the development of healthy cells. However, each human body contains a minority of cancerous cells. These cells multiply rapidly, even as a person reaches old age. If an older person continues to generate dysfunctional cells that have to be removed, then their cancerous cells would quickly fill in the vacancy.

Joanna Masel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona, explains it like this: “the basic reason is that things break.” As the number of healthy, functional cells in an aging human dwindles, they will inevitably be replaced by either obsolete cells or cancerous growth. The proposed solutions cannot both promote cell growth and hinder it at the same time. The unpleasant options are reality until some method of preventing the genetic breakdown in cell division is determined. Even then, such anti-aging methods may have unforeseen consequences.


University of Arizona. (2017, October 30). It's mathematically impossible to beat aging, scientists say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 6, 2017 from