New body of evidence comes to prove that within a group of people born on the same date, there are considerable differences in aging rates.
The study was conducted following physiological markers on a sample group of approximately 1,000 participants at the age of 38. Despite this chronological age, the biological age of some participants clocked a few years extra, with one extreme case showcasing the markers of a 60-year old.
The results of the study were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A total of 18 physiological markers were used for the study. These included blood pressure, metabolism and organ function markers in order to accurately assess the biological age of the participants.
While some proved to be fortunate enough to showcase the biological age of a 20-year old, others did not fare so well. The markers bode a biological age closer to people in their 50s, or even, in one extreme case, closer to 60s.
Daniel Belsky of Duke University in North Carolina stated:
“The overwhelming majority are biologically in their mid-40s or younger, but there are a handful of cases who are in pretty bad shape. In the future, we’ll come to learn about the different lives that fast and slow ageing people have lived.”
The data used in the study concerned 871 participants born between 1972 and 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand. The report has initially contained 1,000 participants. Yet, by the age of 38 some had died due to cancer, suicide, substance abuse or car accidents.
For those remaining, the 18 physiological markers were measured at the age of 26, 32 and 38. A timeline of changes in the biological markers was drawn for each participant, looking at the rate of biological ageing.
The follow-up on physiological markers was complemented by a series of tests. Some tests usually targeted at people over 60s saw a number of participants in the study faring worse than others. The biological age of these participants was above their 38 years.
They didn’t fare well with tests targeted at balance and coordination or mental tasks, as well as physical activities such as walking up the stairs.
Another test looked at assessing the age of the participants. A few students were asked to look at photos of the participants in the study and guess how old they are. Those who had already been assessed by the team as biologically older were consistently pointed out as looking older than their 38 years-old age.
The study reads:
“Already, before midlife, individuals who were ageing more rapidly were less physically able, showed cognitive decline and brain ageing, self-reported worse health, and looked older”.
Alongside the proof of concept study looking at biological age and aging rates, the scientists would like to turn their attention to the lifestyle, environmental factors and medical history, as well as any other factors that could shed light on the causes of biological aging at such accelerated rates for some of the participants.
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