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Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1997 Jun;215(2):134-44.

Effect of aging on the gastrointestinal tract and the pancreas.

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Division of Gastroenterology, VA Medical Center, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


With estimates that about 14% of the U.S. population will be over 65 years old by the end of this century, scientific research has attempted to achieve a better understanding of the aging process and of diseases that are expressed in higher incidence with advancing age. Because of its high rate of cell turnover and continual renewal, the mucosa of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract appears particularly susceptible to age-related disruptions in the normal cell proliferative process. This may translate into altered function that may result in the induction of malnutrition or malabsorption of particular nutrients, or a greater incidence of GI diseases, such as neoplasia. This review will examine the evidence for age-related alterations in the structural and functional properties of different regions of the GI tract and the pancreas, and how they may relate to malnutrition or disease processes.

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