When does ageing start?

In the field of ageing research, there are different opinions about the onset of the ageing process [Cohen et al. 2020]. Some researchers suggest that ageing begins before birth, as cellular damage can accumulate in parental germ cells or during conception [Kinzina et al. 2019]. On the other hand, others argue that ageing begins at sexual maturity, as the body is no longer under evolutionary pressure to constantly regenerate, and mechanisms that are beneficial early in life may become detrimental later [Gaillard & Lemaître 2017, Williams 1957].
Typical signs of ageing, such as wrinkles or a decline in performance, may start to appear around the age of 20 (see "What happens in our bodies as we age?"). However, the rate at which individuals age can vary due to environmental factors and genetic predisposition.

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