It seems it’s possible for you to age faster than those around you, not just mentally in terms of maturity, but biologically, as well. A new study has shown that along with multiple environmental factors that lead us to premature aging, genetics have a contribution, too. And it can be detected early.
The research collected data from 1,000 volunteers, born in between 1972 and 1973, which would place them today at the age of 43 or 42. All went through a series of tests once every six years at the ages of 26, 32 and 38 in order to determine how fast they were growing old.
The concept of “age” scientists were looking for was not solely defined by wrinkles, grey hair and general impatience toward new technology, but by internal factors as well. Things we cannot see with the naked eye or a mere glance such as liver or kidney function, lung capacity, metabolism, immune system, dental health or a close examination of the blood vessels in our eyes have been the elements considered for the test.
A number of 18 biological markers were used to reach as accurate results as possible and properly comprehend a person’s “internal age” before external signs showed. Things such as cholesterol levels and fitness were also measured, as well as telomeres, a part at the end of our chromosomes which science has found that shorten with age.
Researchers examined all the indicators from the three tests along the years and were able to reach a conclusion based on their deterioration. They noticed that signs could be detected as early as the age 26, the marker where they performed their first test.
It has been observed that certain signs can reveal if the body has a slower or a faster rate of aging than normal. While most of the participants were as old internally as they were on their driver’s license, some showed that they were growing old three times faster than they should. For every chronological year, they biologically aged three.
Those with accelerated aging have also been proven to rate worse at routine test typically given to people over the age of 60, such as balance, coordination and problem solving. Their appearance seemed older in the perception of strangers as well, as scientists tested it by showing their pictures to random students.
The result was that those who were biologically older were also guessed to be chronologically older as well.
Researchers have made sure to mention that environmental factors have a great impact on aging. People such as smokers or those who lead an unhealthy lifestyle of unbalanced diets and little exercise have a clear tendency toward premature aging. Still, the studies have shown that genetics hold 20% of the blame.
The findings could provide modern medicine and science a useful tool to detect generally age-caused diseases such as heart problems, dementia or diabetes as early as our mid 20s. It could lead to detecting the problems sooner and fixing them before they affect our lives. Now it’s only a matter of finding an affordable price for all people to get tested.
Image source: hbr.org