Apparently, some people do age slower than others. Let’s look at the latest evidence.
An international group of researchers from Duke University, London and New Zealand have found evidence that by the end of your thirties, some people have already aged faster than others.
In an attempt to find interventions that could slow aging, the group examined 954 people from birth to age 38 through the Dunedin Study in New Zealand. This study followed just over a 1000 people from birth in 1972-1973 and studied multiple physiologic measurements over time. Only 5% of study participants were lost to follow-up.
The research group aimed to study physiologic measurements at age 38 of multiple organ systems including the lungs, teeth, heart, kidneys, liver and immune function. Individuals studied were otherwise thought to be free of age-related disease.
The biomarkers measured included some blood tests that are regularly checked during yearly physicals such as creatinine and total cholesterol. It also included blood pressure and lung tests such as forced expiratory volume.
These biomarkers were chosen from an algorithm in the United States National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES)-based measure of “Biological Age.” In more than 9,000 NHANES participants aged 30–75 years at baseline, Biological Age outperformed chronological age in predicting mortality over a two-decade follow-up.
Even though the Dunedin study group remained largely free of chronic disease, Biological Age took on a normal distribution, ranging from 28 years to 61 years.
The presence of a “distribution” of biologic age means that some 38 year olds were biologically older than others.
Already, before midlife, individuals who were aging more rapidly were less physically able, showed cognitive decline and brain aging, self-reported worse health, and looked older to others.
The hope of researchers is to learn how to accurate measure biological aging in young adults and use these measurements to identify causes of aging and evaluate rejuvenation therapies.
Further testing of the study group in Dunedin found that people with “older” physiologies at age 38 had actually been aging faster than their same chronologically aged peers who retained “younger” physiologies. This conclusion was reached after researchers tested study group DNA telomeres and found that it had deteriorated more rapidly.
It is also interesting to report that people who felt that they were less healthy and who look older than their peers also had older Biologic Ages than others.
Physical scores on tests of balance, grip strength, and physical limitations such as climbing stairs or walking were also associated with older Biologic ages.
The data definitely supports the idea that aging begins early in life and by your thirties some people are already biologically older than others.
What if anything can we do about aging?
Luckily, many of the things that you can do to help you feel better and have more energy may also decrease your Biologic Age.
Easy interventions and changes that you can make to your daily routine to improve your biologic age are those that will also change the biomarkers and physical characteristics measured in this study.
These changes include daily gentle exercise such as walking, decreasing stress through meditation or yoga, and dietary changes to decrease blood sugar and cholesterol.
If you would like to receive a download with the full list of biomarkers and physiologic measurements that have been used to calculate biologic age from the studies above, please enter your email below.
You’ll also receive my newsletter with the latest wellness news and the occasional gluten free yummy recipe. We all need honest, health information to be our personal best, but sometimes, we just need a cookie.
Thanks for reading and sharing!
In good health,
J Lee Jenkins, MD, MSc, FACEP is a practicing board-certified emergency physician and researcher in emergency public health. She can also be found on twitter (twitter.com/jleejenkins) and Facebook (J Lee Jenkins MD).
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. This blog is not intended to provide personal medical advice. As always, please consult with your personal doctor prior to making any changes to your health regimen.