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Medicine Science

Scientists Show Human Aging Rates Vary Widely 285

HughPickens.com writes: Ever notice at your high school reunions how some classmates look ten years older than everybody else — and some look ten years younger. Now BBC reports that a study of people born within a year of each other has uncovered a huge gulf in the speed at which human bodies bodies age. The report tracked traits such as weight, kidney function and gum health and found that some of the 38-year-olds in the study were aging so badly that their "biological age" was on the cusp of retirement. "They look rough, they look lacking in vitality," says Prof Terrie Moffitt. The study says some people had almost stopped aging during the period of the study, while others were gaining nearly three years of biological age for every twelve months that passed. "Any area of life where we currently use chronological age is faulty, if we knew more about biological age we could be more fair and egalitarian," says Moffitt. The researchers studied aging in 954 young humans, the Dunedin Study birth cohort, tracking multiple biomarkers across three time points spanning their third and fourth decades of life. They developed and validated two methods by which aging can be measured in young adults, one cross-sectional and one longitudinal. According to Moffit the science of healthspan extension may be focused on the wrong end of the lifespan; rather than only studying old humans, geroscience should also study the young. "Eventually if we really want to slow the process of ageing to prevent the onset of disease we're going to have to intervene with young people."
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Scientists Show Human Aging Rates Vary Widely

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  • Colour me suprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amalcolm ( 1838434 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @07:53AM (#50061895)
    What you do/experience when you are young (smoking, drinking to much, too little sleep, bad excercise, bad housing ... etc. ) comes back to haunt you.
    • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @07:59AM (#50061931)

      What you do/experience when you are young (smoking, drinking to much, too little sleep, bad excercise, bad housing ... etc. ) comes back to haunt you.

      Not always. Jeanne Calment [wikipedia.org] was once asked what the secret of her long life was and she said that she thought that cutting down her smoking at the age of 96 had a lot to do with it.

      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @08:36AM (#50062191)

        Not always. Jeanne Calment was once asked what the secret of her long life was and she said that she thought that cutting down her smoking at the age of 96 had a lot to do with it.

        Uh, I know you were trying to be funny -- but the very article you linked explains that she stopped smoking at age 117. Wikipedia doesn't say why, but I recall reading an article years ago which said it was because she had gone blind and was unable to light her own cigarettes -- and was too vain to ask others to do it for her.

    • by sgunhouse ( 1050564 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @09:05AM (#50062389)
      I look younger than my younger brother, yet I smoke and drink moderately (and him not at all) and had a job which required irregular hours sleeping for about 5 years. However, he's always had a high metabolism while mine is slow, and it shows.
    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @09:13AM (#50062449) Homepage

      From the article:

      The team said the next step was to discover what was affecting the pace of ageing.

      So common wisdom might tell you that this is all caused by smoking, drinking, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, etc., but scientifically we don't know. We might study this and discover that the effect of some of those things in minor when compared to... I don't know what. Genetics? Childhood trauma? Stress? Sitting too much?

    • I look younger than my age and smoked until I was 45, partied my ass off in the 20s (award winning partying...), sleep 4 hours a night most of the time. I don't doubt that these things can affect how old you look, but they aren't the defining things. Like with most things, genetics is probably the key.

  • i'm 41. and people who meet me for the first time think i'm in my mid 20's. same with my wife. don't drink more than once or twice a month, exercise, avoid eating out all the time and avoid processed foods. stay away from milk, sugar and gluten. cook for yourself and don't buy the prepared foods
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I was with you until the Milk part. My ancestors worked hard at animal husbndry and shoving milk down thier guys to ensure I was lactose tolarante. Ok to be fair they didn't care about me they just wanted to surivive, but its a niec side effect at any rate, ...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @08:14AM (#50062039)

        The trick is to avoid processed milk. Just suck it right from the cow. But, make sure you find a cow and not a bull. The bull won't like it. I know that seems counterintuitive, but trust me on this one.

    • by hippo ( 107522 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @08:07AM (#50061979) Homepage

      I'll just stick with the painting in my attic thanks.

    • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @08:16AM (#50062053) Journal
      stay away from milk, sugar and gluten.

      You were doing pretty well right up until you mentioned gluten. This near fanaticism with avoiding gluten is approaching the same level of thinking organic foods are more nutritious.

      Gluten comes from certain grains. Despite this fact, I have seen products, including fruit itself, labeled as "gluten free" which do not use grain in their production. This article [webmd.com] spells it out very nicely:

      The researchers noted that many symptoms attributed to gluten may actually be caused by sensitivity to other components of wheat flour or other ingredients found in wheat-based foods like bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals.

      Symptoms that have been attributed to gluten sensitivity include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, bloating, headaches, fatigue, and even those associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

      Di Sabatino and Corazza write that some people may experience these symptoms when they eat foods containing gluten simply because they believe these foods will make them sick.

      They conclude that common sense must prevail to "prevent a gluten preoccupation from evolving into the conviction that gluten is toxic for most of the population."
      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )

        I have seen products, including fruit itself, labeled as "gluten free"

        I've seen Gluten free Sea Salt. Based on how they marketed it, I questioned the quality of the salt.

      • You were doing pretty well right up until you mentioned gluten. This near fanaticism with avoiding gluten is approaching the same level of thinking organic foods are more nutritious.

        A restaraunt my wife frequents has completely separate grills and utensils for gluten free cooking. That's pretty much fanaticism.

        Gluten has replaced peanut allergies as the allergy du jour. If you have celiac disease, you have a real gluten allergy. If not, not as likely

        Gluten comes from certain grains.

        Specifically, it's the protein portion of the seed. And each version of gluten is a little different. Anin in an ironic twist, is one of the meat substitutes for vegans.

        Despite this fact, I have seen products, including fruit itself, labeled as "gluten free" which do not use grain in their production.

        I saw a bottle of spring water that was labeled as "gluten free" As t

        • by Chirs ( 87576 )

          A restaraunt my wife frequents has completely separate grills and utensils for gluten free cooking. That's pretty much fanaticism.

          There are people with celiac (I know one) who are *incredibly* sensitive to gluten, so that actually sounds like a really great place for people with celiac to eat at. And even if it's not strictly necessary, it's an excellent way to avoid accidental contamination.

          • A restaraunt my wife frequents has completely separate grills and utensils for gluten free cooking. That's pretty much fanaticism.

            There are people with celiac (I know one) who are *incredibly* sensitive to gluten, so that actually sounds like a really great place for people with celiac to eat at. And even if it's not strictly necessary, it's an excellent way to avoid accidental contamination.

            Certainly there's no argument that the celiac sufferers will benefit.

        • > A restaraunt my wife frequents has completely separate grills and utensils for gluten free cooking. That's pretty much fanaticism.

          No, for people that actually have celiac disease (as opposed to people that are "gluten free"), that's how you have to do it. They're allergic to even small traces of gluten; similar to the way peanuts trigger allergies in minute traces.

          • > A restaraunt my wife frequents has completely separate grills and utensils for gluten free cooking. That's pretty much fanaticism.

            No, for people that actually have celiac disease (as opposed to people that are "gluten free"), that's how you have to do it. They're allergic to even small traces of gluten; similar to the way peanuts trigger allergies in minute traces.

            That isn't even the argument. No doubt a celiac sufferer will need to avoid all gluten sources. But just imagine if restaraunts all had to essentially provide separate kitchens for each allergy. Might get a little expensive.

            It might make more sense to have celiac restaurants, although the numbers are probably too low to be econommically viable.

            Perhaps the best outlook is that for those with the allergy du jour, that celiac sufferers will gain some benefit.

            • Apparently you're incapable of understanding that your wife frequents a restaurant that actually caters for sufferers of Celiac disease, and you're also incapable of understanding that them doing so is not indicative of 'fanaticism'.

      • I agree that the "gluten-free" fad is ridiculous.
        But I have discovered that I was gluten-intolerant completely randomly, since even my doctor said that I was suffering from IBS, and provided me drugs which never solved my problems.

        They conclude that common sense must prevail to "prevent a gluten preoccupation from evolving into the conviction that gluten is toxic for most of the population."

        You make it sound as if Di Sabatino and Corazza were debunking gluten, while they are doctors specialized in celiac diseases.

        The conclusions of the above sentence are:
        1) if you have problems with gluten, it doesn't mean that people around you will also have them. It's a belief.
        2)

        • by delt0r ( 999393 )
          My doctor said I had IBS, but didn't give me any drugs. Had trouble for about 6 months, then it got real bad. They took out my appendix and boom. No more problems at all. Well unless i have a really hot curry :D.
          • My appendix was removed 35 years ago ;D
            I believe that my gluten tolerance was reduced because of a combination of gluten consumption (I was a heavy bread eater) and antibiotics.
            But who knows really ? Since I inherited from all the bad genes from my parents.

      • Well, how about this just to make it a bit easier.

        Try to avoid any wheat products....and most grains in general, but wheat products especially.

        Maybe even more general than this.

        Avoid all WHITE foods with the exception of cauliflower.

        That alone will go a LONG way towards helping your general and long term health.

      • Oh here we go about the gluten thing again. I can eat grains other than modern wheat without any problems (very much including spelt, which is a very old form of wheat) but modern wheat in any form (processed or not) starts causing me problems immediately. Continuing to eat it would completely tank my endurance, and I'd get bouts of pain in my gut that could last anywhere from days to weeks, bad enough that I'd wish for a bullet. No, I don't have Celiac, either, it's just the goddamned wheat gluten, I have
        • That's reasonable. If people say they feel physically ill after eating gluten, who am I to argue? You know more than I do about how you feel. You have my sympathy.

          It's the fervor with which some people claim gluten is poisoning humanity that I rail against.
    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      I do the opposite (except for the exercise), and I'm also a 20-something looking 41 year old.
    • There is no evidence that completely avoiding, smoking, milk, sugar, alcohol, processes foods, or the deadly gluten will cause you to age any slower. Most of it is genetics my dad smoked from 15 - 35 and if we compare pictures there is not that much difference in our complexion we both have wrinkles at the same age, the same goes for my brothers who also don't smoke. I am by no means saying doing any of these things in excess will not have consequences but each of these fad diets that cuts out the evil food
    • Unknowingly, you are following an old diet:
      https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      Though I would recommend to reduce the amount of meat and fish. Eating meat once or twice a week should be enough.

    • by Alioth ( 221270 )

      I'm 43 and people who meet me think I'm in my 20s (well, apart from the receeding hairline but I've had that since a teenager). I drink, I eat processed foods all the time, I have plenty of milk, not too much sugar, and love gluten. I exercise a bit (mostly ride my bike). I drink tea (hot with milk, no sugar) by the gallon. I eat ice cream and chocolate probably too much. I'm 5'11" and weigh 152lbs.

      Unless you've got a specific condition which gluten aggravates (celiacs etc.), gluten free diets are a fad die

    • i'm 45 and people still think i'm in my 20s as well. I get plenty of exercise. I do a lot of my own cooking with food bought from the organic stores in berkeley. a lot of that cooking involves milk sugar and gluten though. A lot of the eating involves washing it down with a beer. I kind of suspect genetics + exercise have the most to do with my youthful fit appearance.
    • i'm 41. and people who meet me for the first time think i'm in my mid 20's. same with my wife. don't drink more than once or twice a month, exercise, avoid eating out all the time and avoid processed foods. stay away from milk, sugar and gluten. cook for yourself and don't buy the prepared foods

      I drank milk all the time as a kid and still do (1% now). I also look to be 10 to 15 years younger than my age.

      Giving up anything (sugar, meat, milk, gluten) can have a placebo effect. You feel better because you are taking control, exercising more, etc.

      There are people who legitimately have various levels of sensitivity towards certain foods (peanuts is one of the more common). There are also people who eat too much which can cause problems such as Diabetes, becoming overweight, not having energy, etc.

  • No, I haven't read the article. Are there really differences in the speed with which we age, or is it more about how we live our lives, what we eat, how much time we spend in direct sunlight, exposure to disease, drugs, alcohol, pollutant, etc.?

    • An extreme case is the genetic disease progeria, which causes very rapid aging and early death. It seems reasonable that there are other genetic defects that speed aging to a lesser degree.
  • by ciaran2014 ( 3815793 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @08:17AM (#50062057) Homepage

    From the summary: "Any area of life where we currently use chronological age is faulty, if we knew more about biological age we could be more fair and egalitarian,"

    That depends. Should people with a higher biological age retire earlier? Kinda unfair to people who looked after themselves.

    Of course I can also see ways to make good use of this: It would be interesting to see if certain jobs are linked to people ageing faster. Maybe (maybe) people in those jobs should be give the option of retiring earlier, with pensions adjusted somehow.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      "...with pensions adjusted somehow."

      What are these "pensions" you speak of?
    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      Should people with a higher biological age retire earlier? Kinda unfair to people who looked after themselves.

      What about those who take care of themselves, but were in the unlucky part of the gene pool that included high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers, cancer?

      With all of those items in my own family history, and being in my late 50s, I've been doing what I can, but I personally plan on retiring (not completely, but doing something I really enjoy like volunteering) as early as financially possible. I've seen too many people who never got to enjoy any of those later years before they were dead, bra

    • Kinda unfair to people who looked after themselves.

      Do we have evidence that "looking after yourself" is the only factor, or even the biggest factor, in "aging rate" that they're talking about? As you point out, if it's related to taking certain jobs, it seems like it might be more fair to make sure that people who take those jobs get to retire earlier. But what if it's genetic, or some other set of factors that people can't really control?

  • Consuming 40 pounds of blueberries a day will stop the aging process!

    I can see lifestyle and genetics being the main drivers. Look at 3rd world citizens, some look like they are 50 when they are in their late 20's. High stress life, lack of proper nutrition, etc...

    But then you have the genetics curveball. There is a guy here at work that is 70 years old and he looks like he is not a day over 40.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      My father-in-law worked a labor job until the mandatory retirement age of 70. He probably could have and would have kept going until 75 if they'd let him. He didn't start seriously deteriorating until 80, and almost ten years after that he still does most of his own house and yard maintenance. It's literally what's keeping him alive.
      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        I don't doubt it. Ask anyone in rural Maine. The farmers are all perfectly healthy right up into they decide to retire and get a place in town. Then they go down fast. Being up and moving a large part of each day clearly is good for longevity. At least for most people.

        • The farmers are all perfectly healthy right up into they decide to retire and get a place in town.

          I haven't known too many farmers, but none of them have been 'perfectly healthy'. They've all got aches and pains.

          To me the ideal is to be active, but also to have time to rest when you're hurt. That's not the life of a farmer.

      • Its called keeping busy. If a person feels that they have a purpose in life after retirement, they tend to live longer, all other things being equal.

  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2015 @08:56AM (#50062319) Homepage

    Getting back in touch with high-school classmates was a huge eye-opener for me. I'm 47 now, graduated in 1986. Many of my classmates look like they're in their 60s. I'm not exaggerating. It's just amazing to me how differently people age.

    • Is it just you?
      Once I visited home and walked around with my dad, and ran into my friend's dad, Bill.
      All I could think was "two old men having an old-man conversation".
      Afterwards my dad told he he was surprised how much Bill had aged, while he himself had barely aged at all!

      • Is it just you?
        Once I visited home and walked around with my dad, and ran into my friend's dad, Bill.
        All I could think was "two old men having an old-man conversation".
        Afterwards my dad told he he was surprised how much Bill had aged, while he himself had barely aged at all!

        Good question, but no, it's not just me. Admittedly I look young for my age, as does my wife. We're both commonly mistaken for being 10 years younger than we are. What stuck out in my facebook friends list isn't "me" vs. "other people", it's "some of my friends" vs. "some of my other friends". If you saw their pictures without knowing who they were you would have trouble believing they were all the same age. Some look to be my age and others look 20+ years older. I know one guy who's 50 who looks to b

  • Unfair (Score:2, Insightful)

    We must fair and egalitarian. There can be no losers, it's just not the modern PC way.
    I propose that if we cannot retard the aging of those who age more quickly, then we must work to accelerate the aging of those who appear younger, to level the playing field.
    We'll call it, "Redistribution of Health". (insert the obligatory "thanks Obama" here )
    :)
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      So I guess in the interests of fairness you would suggesting lobotomizing everyone to bring them down to your level of stupidity?

      The way to make things better is to improve them for everyone. It's kind of insane to be jealous of people who need more healthcare than you... Maybe you could hack a finger off or eat some industrial waste or something. Or, you know, try to see that helping the less fortunate is probably a good thing overall, and be glad you don't need it.

      • LOL! the butthurt is strong with this one. You got some easy-to-push buttons there, sparky.
        It was just a joke, based on a pun. Whoosh. Take a breath.
  • I recently had a high school re-union, and some people did look a lot older. I guess you could make a complex theory about how some people genetically age faster than others, even if their overall lifespan is approximately the same. However, the real determination was: "are they fat?" People who weighed more also tend to look older.

  • Gaussian distribution?
  • "Any area of life where we currently use chronological age is faulty, if we knew more about biological age we could be more fair and egalitarian,"

    I don't even know what "fairness" is supposed to mean in this case. Is it supposed to mean that people who are genetically better off pay extra for people with poor genes to compensate and help them? Or is it supposed to mean that people who are genetically better off pay less for healthcare because they need it less but are forced to retire later? Or what?

    This at

    • by digsbo ( 1292334 )

      The only fair society is one that lets people make their own decisions about how to lead their own lives, and how to spread out savings and consumption over their lifetime.

      But that doesn't give pushy logical positivist progressives the special privilege of telling other people how to live.

  • For me the greatest change was adopting low carb diet and exercising. However, I think I did this a bit too late [at 40]. So now I can do a lot more than a year a ago and I mean a lot more [figure and fitness level are as a young man]...but the skin is not very elastic anymore so in the face I kind of aged [smoking for 20 years does not help].

    Stress - the biggest killer. A few years worrying all the time about health [the system fucked me] , my relationship [dying, now totally dead] and financial troubles [

  • Don't you think she looks tired?

    ~Loyal

  • When people say 'gosh you look like 20,' they're actually basing that on the way you behave, not your appearance.
    (Insert smiley faces at your own discretion)

  • In our latest studies on various diseases associated with aging, many are now following younger subjects. The major problem is that annual followups tend not to work as well, since younger people are busy, so you have to go from an annual cycle to an every 2-3 year cycle. However, this makes changes more noticeable. Following subjects when they're very young is more difficult, as they tend to move a lot more. So most studies now are shifting to a 35-40 lower age range.

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