The Science Behind Aging: Why Does Aging Impact Health?

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Kid Scientist - Why Does Aging Impact Health

Conversations about age tend to go in one of two directions: a gripe about its pitfalls or a fanciful chat that taps into the human longing for immortality. But aging is as fundamental as time itself and according to experts at Cedars-Sinai, we would do well to concern ourselves with doing it healthfully (griping optional).

In the interest of demystifying aging and encouraging longevity, we’re presenting a series of Q&As with Cedars-Sinai experts about the science of aging.

Q: Why does hearing fade with age?

Expert
Dr. Martin L. Hopp, otolaryngologist and Medical Director, Cedars-Sinai Sinus Center

What he knows
Decay happens. We all lose hearing over time because noise wears out the hair cells in the ear—large noises such as explosions can destroy them quickly. People exposed to more noise over time, even low-key city noise, will lose hearing faster than those in serene environments. The impact is serious because hearing loss has been linked to accelerated brain shrinkage and dementia.

And another thing
“The little hair cells in the ear can recover from loud sounds like concerts if exposed for less than one hour at a time.”

Q: Why are older adults more prone to infections?

Expert
Dr. Moshe Arditi, Executive Vice Chair for Research, Department of Pediatrics

What he knows
Testosterone supports immunity. Aging is like infancy in terms of diminished immune function. Vaccine response falls off and the immune system is sapped. One important mechanism, especially in men, is the way testosterone interacts with immune cells. When the hormone dwindles with age, the cells that kill bacteria, viruses, and even cancerous cells are hamstrung. Tumors metastasize more easily and infections can gain a foothold.

And another thing
“As we examine the mechanisms of aging, the goal is to allow people to live more productively. The idea is not to sit at home at 107 years old but to have the mental and physical capacity to write, paint, do science, or some other pursuit. That is what I get excited about.”

Read more about the science behind aging:

Men vs. Women
Reverse Aging


This article is re-published from Discoveries magazine, which covers medical research at Cedars-Sinai and its impact on patient care.

Learn more: Find out more about how the Campaign for Cedars-Sinai is advancing health in aging and longevity here.

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