What Is The Hormone Theory Of Aging?

As the old saying goes, time flies. A decade ago, for example, can feel as if it just happened yesterday. The effects of aging are something that we cannot escape in life, and there are many things people try to do to delay aging.

Among the actions people can take that may delay signs of aging are quitting smoking, getting enough sleep, taking supplements as necessary, and drinking alcohol only in moderation (per WebMD). It turns out that having a positive view on aging may also extend someone's life, based on a study conducted at Yale University. In the study, participants who held positive self-perceptions about aging lived longer than those who held negative self-perceptions about their age.

With time, the functions of the body can begin to deteriorate. Aging and chronic diseases appear to have a reciprocal relationship, as chronic diseases can accelerate aging while aging can increase the risk of developing chronic diseases, according to the National Institute on Aging. One area of interest in research regarding the process of aging is how hormones may be involved in the gradual biological changes we experience as we age. 

How are hormones involved in the process of aging?

Getting a better understanding of the role of hormones in the body can be a helpful start to understanding the hormone theory of aging. The Cleveland Clinic explains that hormones are chemicals in the body that coordinate many of the body's functions. Hormones are responsible for regulating metabolism, blood pressure, body temperature, electrolyte balance, reproduction, and many other functions.

Because hormones play a significant role in so many areas of the body, it may be easy to hypothesize that hormones could also be involved in the body's natural aging process. There can be a change in the amount of hormones someone has as they age, as well as a slower metabolism of hormones, as explained by MedlinePlus. With age, the organs of the endocrine system can sometimes begin to respond differently to the hypothalamus, which is the structure of the brain responsible for secreting hormones. 

According to ERservices, it has been suggested that an excess amount of the stress hormone cortisol in particular may play a role in the aging process, leading to a higher risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, and other conditions. As further described in a 2019 study published in Frontiers in Endocrinology, the hormonal stress theory of aging describes signs of aging as the body's response to prolonged stress and stressful environments that can result in cell damage. However, more research is needed to confirm the exact roles that hormones play in signs of aging.