Some people age more quickly than others


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The rates at which individuals age varies dramatically, a US study has found.

Scientists found that the "biological age" of a group of 38-year-olds taking part in the research, ranged from 28 to 61.

Researchers from the Duke University Centre for Ageing in North Carolina, looked at data from the Dunedin Study, which examined the health of a group of New Zealanders born in Dunedin in 1972-73.

The scientists devised 18 measures to determine the speed at which a person aged, including tests of kidney, liver, lung and immune system function, cholesterol, heart health and lung function. The biomarkers were measured when the participants were 26, then 32, and finally at 38.

"Most studies of ageing look at seniors, but if we want to be able to prevent age-related disease, we're going to have to start studying ageing in young people," said lead scientist Daniel Belsky.

The study found that for most of the 871 participants, chronological and biological age were roughly the same. But some fortunate individuals aged at zero years per year – so they did not appear to age biologically – while others aged at the equivalent of three years per year, giving them a biological age of 61.

Those with an advanced biological age looked older, according to tertiary students asked to rate their photographs. They also reported more difficulty with tasks such as walking up the stairs, and scored worse in tests of balance, co-ordination and solving unfamiliar problems.

The Dunedin participants will now be assessed to see how their lifestyle, medical history, family circumstances and stressful life events may have affected the speed at which they age.

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