A thought-provoking article by Gems and de Magalhães suggests that canonic hallmarks of aging are superficial imitations of hallmarks of cancer. I took their work a step further and proposed hallmarks of aging based on a hierarchical principle and the hyperfunction theory.

To do this, I first reexamine the hallmarks of cancer proposed by Hanahan and Weinberg in 2000. Although six hallmarks of cancer are genuine, they are not hierarchically arranged, i.e., molecular, intra-cellular, cellular, tissue, organismal and extra-organismal. (For example, invasion and angiogenesis are manifestations of molecular alterations on the tissue level; metastasis on the organismal level, whereas cell immortality is observed outside the host).

The same hierarchical approach is applicable to aging. Unlike cancer, however, aging is not a molecular disease. The lowest level of its origin is normal intracellular signaling pathways such as mTOR that drive developmental growth and, later in life, become hyperfunctional, causing age-related diseases, whose sum is aging. The key hallmark of organismal aging, from worms to humans, are age-related diseases. In addition, hallmarks of aging can be arranged as a timeline, wherein initial hyperfunction is followed by dysfunction, organ damage and functional decline.