To me the definition of heath is a state of being for the body where it is able to function unimpeded at optimum levels and without adverse effects. Then illness is the physical manifestation that can arise from a sickness or injury, like if you have the flu your illness is presented by a fever and vomiting.

To me cancer is a illness, because the tumor is the physical manifestation brought on by the unimpeded replication of cells that occurs when there is a defect in a cells genetic code that leaves it with the reproduction switch flipped on. Even though most people lable cancer as the disease it is really the byproduct of an underlaying problem. We see the tumor on the CAT scan and people tend to see that as the problem because they can’t see the individual cells that are reproducing out of control. So in an atempt to rationalize something they don’t completely understand they label the tumor as the problem not the result of the underlaying condition.

This was a tricky one for me but old age by my own definition is actually an illness which is very weird for me to think of it that way. Because in my own head old age is normal and we tend to think of an illness as something that is out of place. Something that is not natural and that needs to be corrected. So this revelation actually made me think of illness in a new light. Because by my own definition old age is a physical manifestation of a long life of veing exposed to various things that can cause small changes in our bodies. For instance in a previous class I took they looked at identical twins and there genetic information. At a young age it was nearly identical, but 40 years later it was as if they were almost two different people. There genetic sequence was still the same, but a new field of study called epi genetics which studies the switching on of different genes. Shows that over time even people with the same DNA change over time when exposed to different things.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. jurayjan says:

    I agree with you in that old age is an interesting one. I was told once that humans are supposed to have a life span of up to 150 years by my biology teacher in 5th grade. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily accurate, but with all the unhealthy lifestyles we abide by (fatty foods/constant radiation exposure), we slowly erode our bodies away. Sometimes i think the advancements we made as a society are at too high of a cost, and we end up like vegetables having a machine breathing and beating for us. I find this most apparent here in lebanon, where 78 percent of the population smokes cigarettes. You will get second hand smoke just by sitting outside. Yet there are so many older people 80+ who are active and free of Alzheimer’s or lung cancer because their lifestyle is completely different than the fast paced american style.

  2. Aaron Schmidt says:

    I find it interesting that you think of aging as an illness. According to your definition, at old ages, we cannot function at optimal levels, so it does make sense. But, I also agree that it can be strange to think of it that way, since aging is also a normal life process. An interesting subject that you may or may not have heard of is our cells use of telomeres. They are repeating nucleotide strands on the ends of our chromosomes that protect our DNA from degradation. When our cells divide, some of our DNA is lost. Normally, this would kill you pretty fast, because DNA is essential to normal cellular development. But, with these telomeres, our essential DNA is not degraded until the telomeres are gone. This usually happens in old age, and is one of the theories of why we age, and why we die. When I think about aging this way, it seems like a controlled process that the body knows will happen over time, not an illness. The body knows it cannot run forever, but it has many defenses that keep it running as long as possible.

    I read an article a couple of years ago about scientists trying to reverse the aging process in rats, allowing them to live longer.

    It is pretty interesting, and is something most people do not even consider when thinking about aging.

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