Some people age three times faster than others, study finds

Other individuals barely age at all in almost a decade, scientists discovered

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The Independent Online

Individuals age at such differing rates that some grow older three times faster than other people of the same age, a new study has found.

US scientists who conducted the study on a group of 38-year-olds found that their biological ages ranged from 28 to 61.

Expert created 18 measures to determine how quickly a person is ageing, including tests of kidney, liver, lung and immune system function as well as assessments of metabolism, cholesterol, heart health, lung function, and the length of telomeres - protective caps on the ends of chromosomes.

The study's 871 participants were previously enrolled in the Dunedin Study, which has documented the health of around 1,000 New Zealanders born between 1972 and 1973.

To study the pace at which participants aged, scientists measured the 18 biomarkers when the participants were 26, 32, and 38-years-old.

While the majority of participants had a biological aged that matched their chronological age, some aged three times faster while others did not age at all in the eight year period.

If a 38-year-old had a biological age of 40, this implied an ageing rate of 1.2 years per year over the 12 year study period, the scientists said.

The scientists wrote in the study that even before they were middle aged, individuals who aged rapidly "were less physically able, showed cognitive decline and brain ageing, self-reported worse health, and looked older."

However, they stressed that ageing is not dependent on genetics, as studies of twins had shown that around 20 per cent of ageing can be attributed to genes.

 

Co-author Professor Terrie Moffitt, also from Duke University, said: "That gives us hope that medicine might be able to slow ageing and give people more healthy and active years."

Additional reporting by PA

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