A new study reveals that there truly is a difference between people’s chronological age and their biological age, by looking closer at the main features that make the body old. The scientists have developed a method to quantify biological age.
People seldom associate getting older with being old, but in fact our bodies begin the aging process soon after they reach the adulthood and the peak of their development. This is something that we are all aware of, but very rarely think about.
Different people take different times to develop, and that is why some people grow faster then others. It is a very similar process that occurs with aging. There are some genetic components that dictate the rhythm of the aging process, but there are a lot of environmental and behavioral factors that greatly contribute to the outcome.
A team of scientists from the geriatric department at the Duke University School of Medicine, led by Daniel Belsky, assistant professor of medicine have developed a 18 parameter panel that accurately assesses the biological age of a person. They have studied the results of this panel on 20 and 30 year olds as subjects for their extensive data.
Their data was based on the Dunedin Study, that followed 1,037 people from the city of Dunedin, New Zeerland, who were born in 1972-1973. The Duke team has used the data concerning the assessments of the 18 parameters in their panel that were made when the subjects were 26, 32 and finally 38. 954 final subjects proved to be eligible for the Duke study.
The 18 markers include cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body mass index, lung function and inflammation levels. The Duke team decided that these 18 markers could accurately display the level of deterioration that the body had reached along the years, by looking into the state of integrity of the vital organs.
Their findings reveal that aging speed can vary from 0 biological years per chronological year, to as much as 1.2 biological years per chronological year. This means that some people can maintain a younger age of their body than their actual age, others can display a much higher biological age, despite a young chronological age.
There was also a part of the study where graduate student were asked to guess the age of the subjects of the study, based on appearance only. The students were asked to look at pictures of the subjects and try to figure out their age. This proved that those people who displayed a higher biological age than their chronological age was actually looked older to the observers.
Also, those who looked younger than they actually were, seemed to have a younger biological age as well. Therefore, the global effect of life style choices and environment does weigh heavily on body health and it shows, as appearance is more consistent with the biological age than chronological age.
“The next step is to figure out what knowing this information helps us to do. One of the things it can help us do is identify the causes of accelerated aging so that we might slow it down. And the other thing it can help us do is evaluate therapies that slow down aging.” said Daniel Belsky.
The findings of this study were published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and it has laid the groundwork for an innovative take on slowing down the aging process.
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