Why Some People Age Faster Than Others, According To Science

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Scientists have confirmed that people grow old at radically different rates.

If you're ever in doubt that we all age at different rates, go to your high school reunion.

Remember Carla, the bully who threatened to flush your head in the toilet? Well, she looks like she's had a real hard life and is coming up on her 65th birthday.

Oh look, there's Kira, the girl everybody wanted to be. Now, she could easily pass for someone's grandmother ...And you only graduated a few years ago.

Scientists have confirmed that people grow old at radically different speeds, with some aging much faster than their still not-a-day-over 20 classmates. 

study of around 1,000 male and female 38 year olds found that most had biological ages close to the number of birthdays they'd had, but others were far younger or older. Researchers used 18 biological markers, including blood pressure, organ function, cholesterol, dental health, and metabolism, to assess the biological age of each of the participants.  

For some, their biological age was much higher than their peers. Most people had an aging rate of one year per year, but some were aging at a rate of up to three years per year. Others were aging closer to zero years per year.

Daniel Belsky, assistant professor of geriatrics at Duke University's Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, said, "The overwhelming majority are biologically in their mid-40s or younger, but there are a handful of cases who are in pretty bad shape. In the future, we'll come to learn about the different lives that fast- and slow-aging people have lived."

Men and women who didn't fare well on the biological measurements for aging also did worse on tests usually given to the elderly, such as balance and coordination, and mental tests like solving unfamiliar problems. The biologically older people also reported difficulties with activities like walking up the stairs.

Belsky called the study a proof of concept for using biological markers to measure the aging process in people who are too young to have age-related disease An objective measure of biological age, he said, could be used to assess if new anti-aging therapies work in a reasonable time frame.

The ultimate goal of the study is to target aging specifically, instead of the multiple separate diseases people are increasingly likely to develop as they age.

Here's to aging gracefully!