When you have a high school reunion, do you notice that your friends born within a year of each other look older than the other? Well, if your eyes can’t perceive enough of that, scientists have finally confirmed aging process widely varies among people.
According to a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers studied 954 people from the same town in New Zealand who were all born in 1972-73, and found that while most people in the group had a biological age of 38, some were significantly younger and some were aging so badly that they were on the peak of retirement.
To discover the factor that was affecting the aging process, the researchers used 18 physiological markers when the group turned 26, 32 and 38 – which include measurement of blood pressure, cholesterol levels, organ function, metabolism, and even the length of telomeres – to assess the biological age of each of the participants and compare it with their actual age.
Despite most of the participants’ biological age matched fairly accurately their chronological age, their analysis showed that their biological ages ranged from the late 20s to those who were nearly 60. So, some participants even stopped aging during the period of study and some aged three times their biological age for every year passed.
Lead author of the study, Dan Belsky explained that in order to prevent any cases of age-related disease among the participants, the team wanted to particularly look at younger people. This gives them the opportunity to disentangle the biological changes that drive aging from those that underpin specific diseases.
In the future, the researchers plan to look if various lifestyle factors such as drinking, smoking and exercise have something to do with the aging process.
Belsky said, “the ultimate goal, of course, is to be able to intervene in the aging process itself, rather than addressing killers like heart disease or cancer in isolation.”
“As we get older, our risk grows for all kinds of different diseases,”
“To prevent multiple diseases simultaneously, aging itself has to be the target. Otherwise, it’s a game of whack-a-mole,” he added. [Image: Dimitri Otis/Getty Images via The Guardian]