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Cancer Control. 2000 Nov-Dec;7(6):513-22.

Aging, immunity, and cancer.

Author information

1
Section of Geriatrics, the Department of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53295, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The prime function of the immune system is to protect the entire organism from a variety of insults and illnesses, including the development of cancer. The question of how age-related declines in immune function contribute to an increasing incidence of malignancies continues to be a focus of discussion and speculation.

METHODS:

The recent literature from the National Library of Medicine database (1990 through the present) was searched for articles using the medical subject headings (MeSH terms) of aging, immunity, cancer, senescence, and apoptosis. Bibliographies of articles retrieved were also scanned.

RESULTS:

Data from in vitro and in vivo animal and human studies demonstrate clear age-related alterations in both the cellular and humoral components of the immune system, but there is little evidence supporting direct causal links between immune senescence and most malignancies.

CONCLUSIONS:

Senescent decline in immune surveillance leads to the accumulation of cellular and DNA mutations that could be a significant factor in the development of malignancy and programmed cell death or apoptosis observed in the elderly.

Comment in

PMID:
11088060
DOI:
10.1177/107327480000700603
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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