A team of scientists measured the effects of getting older over a 12-year period on nearly one thousand 38 year old men and women.
Researchers from universities in Britain, the US, Israel and New Zealand singled out three of the participants, who had had shown no deterioration. They had biologically aged zero years, and had even begun to look younger. These people may hold the key to developing what would in effect be a fountain of youth.
While some people appeared medically in their late 20s, others were found to have aged biologically by three years for each calendar year, looking almost sixty years.
The data comes from the Dunedin Study. The landmark longitudinal study has tracked people born in 1972-73 in the same New Zealand town from birth to the present.
You might wonder how researchers assessed the group's age.
- The scientists devised a measure called ‘biological age’ to assess how worn out the participants’ bodies were internally.
- Health measures like blood pressure and liver function have been taken regularly, along with interviews and other assessments.
- The progress of aging shows in human organs just as it does in eyes, joints and hair, but sooner.
- So as part of their regular reassessment, the team measured the functions of kidneys, liver, lungs, metabolic, immune systems and dental health.
- They also measured HDL cholesterol, cardiorespiratory fitness, lung function and the length of the telomeres which shorten with age.
A professor at of Duke University, said there was nothing unique about the small town of Dunedin and the pattern is likely to be repeated in similar populations elsewhere. Smoking and serious mental illness can speed up the aging process, while intelligence seems to keep the body young.
This may be because a healthy brain is a sign of a healthy body, or because intelligent people have less physically demanding jobs, live in less polluted areas and take more care of their health.
The researchers also believe genes play a role, which could lead to new anti-aging drugs. Until then, the best advice to hold back time is to eat well and exercise.
However, physical decline accompanies maturity. I'm no longer so active and I've started to put on weight around the tummy. I guess our time of life catches us all in the end.
Best to bend before the wind in the manner of bamboo, than remain rigid like a branch and snap.
So, until scientists can find a pill to compensate for our genes, and add zest to our metabolic rate, everyone will have to bow to their own DNA and the natural progression of the aging process.
What is your attitude to aging?