Growing older has a few silver linings, and one of them might be slowing down cancer.
While aging is considered one of the biggest risk factors for cancer, new research shows that aging could be hindering cancer development as well.
The research looked at the process of cell division and at senescent or “sleeping” cells that lose their ability to divide.
As people age, their senescent cells increase, driving many age-related processes and diseases.
Uncontrolled cell growth, such as cancer triggered by a genetic mutation like UV exposure, can be detected by some cells that in response may go to sleep to stop the cell division, the research said.
The findings pointed to changes in aging and sleeping cells that might be linked to a decrease in cell growth, the researchers said.
“Our work challenges the traditional view concerning the relationship between cancer and aging and suggests that aging processes may hinder cancer development,” said Dr. Joao Pedro De Magalhaes of the University of Liverpool, one of the study’s authors.
“While mutations accumulate with age and are the main driver of cancer, aging tissues may hinder cell proliferation and consequently cancer. So you have these two opposite forces, mutations driving cancer and tissue degeneration hindering it.”
The phenomenon may explain why the incidence of cancer levels off and even may decline in very advanced ages, he said, adding that more studies are needed to verify the phenomenon.