What is senescence?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Most serious aging happens at the cellular level. The simple act of bending your knee, for example, exposes the cells of your cartilage to physical damage and damaging chemicals. Sometimes those cells are killed directly by the damage (that's called necrosis), while in other instances, damage accumulates over time, and the cells eventually go into retirement. That process is called senescence, when the cells stop dividing permanently, or they undergo apoptosis, in which they're broken up and reabsorbed.

As cells become senescent, tissues slowly lose their ability to repair and regenerate themselves efficiently and perfectly. Imperfectly repaired cells accelerate damage, which in turn causes more cells to become senescent, which causes even more damage. Imperfectly repaired or replaced or retired cells build up—like those in arthritic joints. And so the vicious cycle of old age keeps spinning, unless you know how to stop it or keep it from starting in the first place.
You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

More About this Book

You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

International bestselling authors of YOU: The Owner's Manual and YOU: On a Diet give you all the tools and know-how to stay young and defy the ageing process. Drawing lively parallels between your...

Continue Learning about Aging & Mental Health

3 Ways to Maintain Focus as You Age
3 Ways to Maintain Focus as You Age
At age 84, Sister Madonna Buder (aka The Iron Nun), finished Ironman Canada. How’d she do it? Sister Iron says, “…all I was concentrating on [was] get...
Read More
Is a regular mental workout valuable as I age?
Sharine ForbesSharine Forbes
Research to-date clearly supports the idea of “use it or lose it” and even expands on the original h...
More Answers
How does language change with aging?
David A. Merrill, MDDavid A. Merrill, MD
Language is an aspect of cognition that changes with normal aging. For example, if you are shown hou...
More Answers
Can aging affect my balancing capability?
Kelly TraverKelly Traver
Balance also declines with age due to a reduction in nerve connections in the cerebellum as well as ...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.