Aging and aging theories
Several theories have sought to explain aging, here precisely defined as “increasing mortality with increasing
chronological age in populations in the wild”. They all fall within one of two opposite and incompatible paradigms.
For the first (“old paradigm”), aging is the result of degenerative phenomena that natural selection
cannot counteract completely, due to insufficient strength or opposing selective pressures. For the second
(“new paradigm”), aging is favoured by natural selection in terms of supra-individual selection: it belongs to a
broader category of phenomena, on the whole defined as “phenoptosis”, which are explicable only in terms of
supra-individual selection. For the new paradigm, aging is a specific function that is genetically determined and
regulated, with its own physiology, pathology and phylogeny. This paper describes the theoretical arguments
and the empirical evidence that support or are in contrast with each of the two paradigms. Subsequently, on
the basis of an imposing and authoritative amount of research, aging mechanisms at the cellular and organismal
levels are described. The clear existence of such mechanisms is indispensable proof to support the new
paradigm and is in complete and unsolvable contrast with the old paradigm.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
© Società Italiana di Gerontologia e Geriatria (SIGG) , 2017
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