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Systemic Inflammation

Systemic / Silent / Chronic Inflammation

The modern concept of systemic inflammation (also known as silent inflammation and chronic inflammation) has revolutionised our understanding of ageing and the development of chronic degenerative disease (CDD). The classic teaching, for 2000 years, which I received as a twentieth century medical student was that inflammation is recognised by four cardinal features; rubor, tumor, calor and dolor…redness, swelling, heat and pain. While this still applies to acute inflammation, systemic inflammation is silent and continues over time (chronically) without being readily apparent.

For many years I and others have suspected that free radicals, produced by our metabolic processes and added to by free radicals in the environment, pollutants, emissions, pesticides etc. were responsible for systemic inflammation, ageing and disease. We now know that ageing is indeed due to free radical damage at the cellular and nuclear level.

Professor Thomas von Zglinicki

Professor Thomas von Zglinicki of the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing, who is the foremost authority on the causes of ageing, has shown that it is telomere dysfunction, damage to our chromosomes by free radicals that leads to cellular death and consequent ageing and chronic disease.

“The connection to ageing comes in because telomeres cannot shorten indefinitely,” said Professor von Zglinicki. “As they become shorter they cannot fulfil their function anymore.” As a cell is unable to repair this situation, one of two things happens. It either goes into ‘apoptosis’ – cell death – or into ‘senescence’, a state of permanent cell arrest. “In many cells it is senescence and that is a very interesting cellular state which we have been working on quite a lot recently, and its relevance for ageing. Senescent cells are like the rotten fruit in a basket, they can compromise the function of whole organs”.

Limitation of Damage

The message is quite clear that limitation of damage by free radicals will enhance our health at a cellular level. The result will be less systemic inflammation, chronic degenerative disease and slower ageing.

The above is a summary of a great deal of complex research.

I have followed a regime to achieve optimal levels of antioxidants with consequent lower levels of free radicals in my body for many years. To find out more sign up for my eBook.

Further Information

  1. Thomas von Zglinicki, Professor of Cellular Gerontology, Deputy Director: Science, Newcastle Institute for Ageing –

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