FRIDAY, July 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who look older than their years may be aging at an accelerated pace, new research suggests. The findings were published online July 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study team focused on 954 men and women who had been participating in an ongoing New Zealand study since their birth in 1972 to 1973. In 2011, the participants, then 38, underwent tests of kidney function, liver function, lung capacity, and metabolic and immune system strength. Cholesterol, blood pressure, dental status, eye structure, and heart health were also assessed, as was telomere length.
The researchers found a variance of up to 30 years in the different participants' biological age, although all were still free of any age-related disease. The team conducted a secondary analysis, comparing biomarker information collected in 2011 with information gathered six and 12 years earlier. That analysis showed that between ages 26 and 38 most participants aged at an equal biological pace. But some were gaining three biological years for every one chronological year. Still others had essentially stopped getting older, as their biological age was essentially on "pause."
The researchers also found that the older their biological age, the worse the participants fared on physical and mental acuity tests. The fast-agers showed worse balance and poorer motor coordination, and reported having more trouble with tasks such as climbing stairs or carrying groceries. "This showed that already early in life we can see symptoms of advanced age in young people, symptoms that correspond to declining physical and cognitive function, long before age-related disease actually develops," lead author Daniel Belsky, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Duke University's School of Medicine and Center for Aging in Durham, N.C., told HealthDay.