In our society where people are preoccupied with youth and appearances, many of us are concerned about the ageing process. For most, this concern leads to cosmetic fixes such as Botox, facelifts, liposuction, dermabrasion, or chemical peels. However, researches from the University of Glasgow in Scotland have recently published a study which sheds some light on how and why we age.
In a nutshell, our DNA ages… well, sort of. As we age, the telomeres, located at the ends of chromosomes, shorten. Researchers refer to this mechanism as the “molecular clock.” Yes, our respective molecular clocks are all ticking albeit at different rates.
Their study included 382 Glaswegians divided into two groups—those whose household income was above or below 25,000 pounds. Over a ten-year period, the telomeres of those whose household income was less than 25,000 pounds shortened by an average of 7.7% compared to just 0.6% in those whose household income exceeded 25,000 pounds.
Should you rent or buy your home? According to their study results, for those who resided in rental accommodations, their telomere length was reduced by 8.7% compared to 2.2% for those who owned their own homes.
What impact did diet have? For those who consumed poor diets, their telomeres shortened by 7.7% compared to just 1.8% in those with better diets.
The researchers noted that this type of analysis for telomere length only works at the population not individual level—the process of ageing is complex and multifactorial. As the study’s researchers noted:
“Variation in the rate of biological ageing reflects the cumulative burden of genetic, metabolic and environmental stressors, resulting in oxidative damage and elevated inflammatory processes”
The researchers concluded:
“In summary, we show convincingly that factors associated with lower socio-economic status and poor diet are relevant to accelerated biological ageing in a cohort representing extremes of social class. Our findings also suggest potential associations of elevated circulating IL-6 (an inflammatory cytokine), a measure known to predict CVD (cardiovascular disease) and diabetes, with biological ageing, observations which require further study to tease out potential mechanistic links.”
One possible hypothesis could be that the accelerated ageing associated with lower income demonstrated in this particular study could be mediated by psychological stress–though a number of alternate explanations also exist.
Article source: PlosOne