Are you 26 and feeling like an old soul? It turns out you’re not just looking a bit older, your body is actually aging faster than your peers. I’m not sure whether I should be depressed by the news, or buying a sports car? Maybe both…

Before you run out and demolish a Sephora or order a crate of Rogaine, it’s actually ok. What researchers found were signs of aging could be detected in skin, joints, organs and hair in people as young as 26. On second thought, I’ll join you on the Sephora and Rogaine group buy. I’m 32…

Most aging research has centered on the AARP club, but Duke researchers wanted to identify 18 markers to help determine the aging process in young adults – 20s and 30s. The goal was to find the true biological age of study participants.

Dan Belsky, an assistant professor of geriatrics at Duke’s Center for Aging, explained the research in a press release:

“We set out to measure aging in these relatively young people. Most studies of aging look at seniors, but if we want to be able to prevent age-related disease, we’re going to have to start studying aging in young people.”

Exactly. I want to be cloned. Or, I damn sure want to avoid the scooter life as long as possible.

aging research

Aging Study

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers used data from the Dunedin Study, which tracked 1,037 people since they were born in 1972 and 1973.

The biomarkers used by Duke researchers to assess aging include: kidney function, liver, lungs, metabolic and immune systems, as well as HDL cholesterol, cardiorespiratory fitness, and the length of the telomeres in chromosomes.

954 people were still active in the Dunedin Study, allowing researchers to set the biological age for each 38-year old in the system. It ranged from 30 all the way to 60. I wouldn’t want to be the researcher giving the 38-year old the biological age of 60.

Once the baseline was established, researchers went back into the archives to get the biomarker information at ages 26 and 32.

Most participants were aging right on track, their chronological age matching their biological age. The outliers? Well, someone has to be living life a bit too hard. Say a participant had a biological age of 40. That means their body is aging at 1.2 years for every chronological year.

Some in the study were aging three years for every chronological year. I’m not saying you’re living life wrong, but 38 with a body asking for Social Security is probably not a good thing.

It wasn’t just blood tests pointing to aging. Participants who had older biological ages also appeared older than their chronological age. They also scored lower on tests for balance, problem-solving and coordination.

Hell, if you’re testing coordination you better grab me on a good day. Either that or I’m actually 80.

Belsky stresses the research could be used to intervene in the aging process. Why wait for heart disease and cancer to emerge. A risk factor for the diseases is aging, and we could cut it off before it becomes a serious problem.

“As we get older, our risk grows for all kinds of different diseases,” Belsky said. “To prevent multiple diseases simultaneously, aging itself has to be the target. Otherwise, it’s a game of whack-a-mole.”

The guy in his 50s and having a midlife crisis? He’s full of it. In reality, it’s me that should be driving the sports car at 32. Oh, and my right knee? I’m thinking it has to be at least 60. Getting close to retirement age…

Science always manages to give you a glass half full.


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