This is a fantastic finding since if we were able to know the factors that speed aging and we could stop them, we could prevent diseases related to age like cancer, diabetes, cardiopathies and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer or Parkinson. And this becomes relevant since it is foreseen that by 2050 people older than 65 years will have doubled and 3 out of 10 will be over 80 years.
A recently published study conducted by researchers from the Duke University School of Medicine shows the outcomes of analysing 19 biomarkers in 100 young volunteers born in 1972 and 1973.
Blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, metabolic and immunity systems and even the length of the part of the chromosomes that shorten with age were analysed at age of 26, 32 and 38. With this data they calculated the speed of aging for each participant and they found that while, in general, most people age one biological year for each chronological year, others increased three biological years each birthday.
The ones aging faster underwent geriatric tests (balance, cognitive and physical) that showed they were suffering faster IQ descent, had a higher risk of developing some form of dementia and worse physical condition than their peers: they did worse climbing stairs. In addition, self-perception about their health was worse and their appearance made them seem much older.
A group of lucky people
At the other extreme, a few lucky people had a negative rate of biological aging: the 12 years between the first measurement and the last had not taken its toll on the biology of their bodies.
Comparing both groups hints on what factors have an influence on the aging process and how to stop or slow down them can be found.
It is not only the genes
We can’t blame our ancestors or genes. Previous studies showed that genes only account for 20% in the aging process. The other 80% depends on environmental factors. And this is very good news since these factors can be modified or eliminated although a lot of willpower is needed. So, reducing stress, regular exercise and stop smoking are some of the factors that can help to decrease aging speed.
Based on these findings the study will be continued and participants will be examined again when they turn 45 and special attention will be paid to habits like the diet, exercise and environmental factors.
This study shows that lifestyle and environmental factors influence not only the quality of life, decrease the risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases, but also on the aging process, which is related to neurodegenerative conditions.
Interestingly, researchers of the study found that paradoxically, some participants not only did not age over time but on the contrary, they rejuvenated.
So, we can conclude that modifying the factors that speed aging will have a positive influence on how you look and will help to save money on plastic surgery.
Are you one of the lucky ones?
Which factors do you think are the most important to prevent fast aging?
Share your thoughts below!