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Are You Aging Faster Than Your Friends?


iStock_000009138681Small Have you ever run into friends with whom you went to high school and it appears they have discovered the fountain of youth? Or perhaps they look much older than they actually are. Now scientists know outward appearances reflect internal health, and they have found that the rate at which a person ages can be determined in early adulthood.

The research discovered that as early as the age of 38, some people have a much higher biological age. They look older, but aging is more than skin deep: it affects the internal workings of the body. This means their level of physiological functioning is more characteristic of people who are older. When a person looks older than their chronological age, it reveals their body is aging at a faster rate.

Study Determines Biological Age

Most investigations on aging involve older populations, notes lead author Daniel Belsky. In most cases, the detrimental health changes associated with aging are fully developed in these people. Yet aging is a gradual process that occurs over a period of decades. Therefore, the scientists undertook the research to identify factors that influence aging in early-to-mid life.

In the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers tested 954 participants of the age of 26 to ascertain their biological age. Eighteen parameters were monitored that earlier studies associate with aging, including inflammation, blood pressure, body mass index, dental health and cholesterol. They also conducted medical assessments that showed the condition of the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system and DNA. Other tests involved intelligence quotient, which was compared to childhood scores, as well as fitness levels, which were assessed through exercise. The participants were retested at the age of 32 and 38 to determine the pace at which each person was aging.

Some People of the Age of 38 Had a Biological Age of 60

An examination of the results showed some people were aging faster, evidenced by 38-year-olds receiving scores commonly seen in people in their 50s and 60s. These people performed more poorly on measurements such as strength, balance, climbing stairs, coordination and intelligence. The age-related changes were also noticeable in their faces, as college students who looked at their photographs judged them to be older than their chronological age.

Not all of the participants fared so badly. Some of the 38-year-olds had a biological age below 30.

Most aged at a rate of one biological year per chronological year. However, some aged three biological years within a year, and some didn’t appear to age at all during a year. A comparison of characteristics of the fast agers and slow agers should identify modifiable factors that affect aging. Belsky says 80 percent of the causes of aging involve lifestyle rather than genetics.

The Goal of the Research Is to Find Out What Will Slow Aging

The next step in this research is to pinpoint the factors that accelerate aging, so people can adopt changes that will decelerate it. Belsky and his team will test the participants once again when they reach the age of 45. In the meantime, they are recording lifestyle practices of each person, such as diet and exercise. Once the researchers have found which behaviors have the most impact, the findings will likely not be surprising. Aside from diet and exercise, the factors will probably include dealing well with stress, maintaining an optimal weight, abstaining from smoking and having a healthy immune system.

After the most important keys to youthfulness are found, the researchers hope to be able to intervene early in the aging process, instead of waiting for disorders like cancer and heart disease to develop. “As we get older, our risk grows for all kinds of different diseases,” Belsky concludes. “To prevent multiple diseases simultaneously, aging itself has to be the target. Otherwise, it’s a game of whack-a-mole.”


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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