How evolution works

Domenick Venezia venezia at zgi.com
Thu Jun 9 15:13:27 EST 1994


On 09 June Cathy Woodgold writes:

>I'm imagining an inividual who takes drugs to lengthen the telomeres in the
>cells of his/her body so that he/she can live a long time.  My point is that
>the individual will inevitably get cancer unless some powerfull way of
>controlling it is found.  (Other people on this newsgroup have been making
>this same point.)

Yes, I agree.  Bruce Ames says that cancer goes up with the fifth power of
age.  Bottom line: if you live long enough cancer will get you.  But I am
not sure that it follows that if we extend life through telomeric extension,
i.e., the suppression of cellular senescence, that the occurrance of cancer 
would follow the same power function.  We need to think about why cancer
increases with age.  Is it that we are generating more replication errors
with age?  If so, why are we generating more errors, or are we tolerating
more errors?  Is it that our immune systems are less efficient at detecting 
and defeating nascent cancers?  I don't know.  But one thing I suspect is that
the steady progression of cellular senescence is contributing to the steady
loss of function we see with ageing.  It may be be that the young are 
resistant to cancer because they basically still have all their cells.  Their
immune systems are at 100%, their genetic repair functions are at 100%, 
their tolerance for oxidized protein is still low, etc.  Hard dat would help
here.

If this is the case then extending your telomeres will flatten the cancer
power function to some degree.  I am in no way advocating that the fight
against cancer be lessened, but simply pointing out that preventing cellular
senescence may be affecting a whole cascade of age related issues, cancer
included. 


What does TISSATAAFL stand for or mean?

Domenick





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