New Study Attributes Rapid Ageing Mainly To Environment Factors

By @vitthernandez on
Youths play pond hockey on Pigeon Lake near the town of Bobcaygeon
Youths play pond hockey on Pigeon Lake near the town of Bobcaygeon, in the Kawartha Lake region of central Ontario March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill

Using a test developed by researchers from various academic institutions, a new study found that environment factors, more than genetics, explains why some people age at a rapid pace faster than the calendar. The findings allow scientists to quantify biological ageing among young people.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, followed over 1,000 people born in 1972 and 1973. Majority of them were born in the same town in New Zealand. It also conducted tests with participants aged 26, 32 and 38 to track biological changes of the respondents over time, reports The Telegraph.

It found that respondents who did not smoke, engaged regularly in physical activities and followed a healthy diet protect themselves from markers of ageing such as white hair and wrinkles on the skin. These indicators of ageing are measured to determine a person’s true age.

These tests detect premature ageing in young people before they develop chronic ailments such as cardio diseases, diabetes or dementia, said Dr Andrea Danese, senior lecturer in Developmental Psychobiology and Psychiatry at King’s College London, one of the participating academic institutions. “If we know that we can think about changing diets or making lifestyle changes when it is early enough to do something about it,” The Telegraph quotes Danese.

The findings explain why some of the volunteers appear older than their biological ages, while others seem to have found the fountain of youth. Their photos were shown to Duke University students who were asked to guess their ages. Some of the 38-year-olds appear to look like retirees, reports BBC.

Only 20 percent of the differences in rate of ageing is due to genetics, while the remaining part were due to the person’s environment which could be altered.  Dan Belsky, lead author of the study and assistant professor of geriatrics at Duke University’s Centre for Ageing, explains, “As we get older our risk grows for all kinds of different diseases. To prevent multiple diseases simultaneously ageing itself has to be the target. Otherwise, it’s a game of whack-a-mole.”

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