Aging or ageing is the process of becoming older. The term refers especially to human beings, many animals, and fungi, whereas for example bacteria, perennial plants and some simple animals are potentially biologically immortal. In the broader sense, aging can refer to single cells within an organism which have ceased dividing (cellular senescence) or to the population of a species (population ageing).
In humans, aging represents the accumulation of changes in a human being over time, encompassing physical, psychological, and social changes. Reaction time, for example, may slow with age, while knowledge of world events and wisdom may expand. Aging is among the greatest known risk factors for most human diseases: of the roughly 150,000 people who die each day across the globe, about two thirds die from age-related causes.
The causes of aging are uncertain; current theories are assigned to the damage concept, whereby the accumulation of damage (such as DNA oxidation) may cause biological systems to fail, or to the programmed aging concept, whereby internal processes (such as DNA methylation) may cause aging. Programmed aging should not be confused with programmed cell death (apoptosis).
In 1934, it was discovered that calorie restriction can extend lifespan by 50% in rats and this has motivated research into delaying and preventing aging.