For generations, humans have committed their brains to the question of aging. Many intellectuals have applied all their conscience in digging out the secrets of nature relating to the decline of the biological age of human beings. The fact that some humans age faster than others have instigated many inquisitive minds to go deeper into the study of human psychology.
Factors Of Biological Aging Explained
They have tried to find answers to the “Pace of aging “. The ‘pace of aging’ has been found to have deep-rooted associations with many cognitive difficulties, signs of advanced brain aging, diminished sensory-motor functions, older appearances, and more pessimistic perceptions of aging.
In order to mitigate the personal and societal costs associated with aging, there are varieties of population-level policies including the retirement age, pension, Social Security and health care subsidies all of which have the same motive of supporting Independence.
While we all grow chronologically at the same rate, there is a huge variation in the rate of biological aging which accounts for why some adults experience age-related decline faster than others.
Stress – A Factor Of Biological Aging
On the voyage in search of different factors, which accelerate biological aging, stress has been considered a major factor in declining age, especially in contemporary times. Some of the recent studies made reveal that stress can prematurely age us deriving some quantifiable evidence from genetic studies. Scientists over the years have developed certain models called ‘Epigenetic clocks’ which may attempt to measure the aging process by examining the amount of methylation at various sites of DNA.
The research on aging has revealed various mind-blowing facts on how the genetic material contributes to the process. For a long time, the medical fraternity has been keen on the theory that the nuclear DNA ages with each cell division that occurs within our body and several other genetic markers that could be potentially put to use in order to determine the age of an organism. One such awe-stricken reality is the length of the telomeres. It is believed that with each dividing cell, there is a shortening of our chromosomes. Telomeres are the short stretches and proteins at the end of our chromosomes that stop dividing after a particular point is reached that is considered to be indicative of the biological age of the individuals.
GrimAge – An Epigenetic Clock
GrimAge being one such epigenetic clock, brought into attention in 2019, is successfully able to predict a biological decline. It has attempted to study the impact of stress especially in people with mental health conditions.
Research has been attempted by Yale School of medicine, New Haven on the capability of the GrimAge about the impact of stress on accelerated biological aging in healthy 18-50 years old. The lead author, Dr. Zachary Harvanek explained that when people get older, their health starts to decline, there are changes observed in their mobility and some people die earlier than others.
Study On The Impact Of Stress In A Healthy Population
On an experimental basis, 444 individuals were taken between the ages of 18-50 years for the study, excluding participants with a history of substance abuse, head injury, or some chronic medical conditions and pregnant people. Breathalyzer urine tests were taken at each appointment to check for drug-taking.
- They were made to undergo a physical health review and a separate morning biochemical evaluation after fasting overnight.
- Background information regarding the drinking and smoking habits, racial identity, relationship status, income, educational levels were noted.
- The glucose, insulin and cortisol levels were recorded after fasting.
- Clinical interviews for diagnosis of psychiatric illness along with the cumulative stress interview were conducted followed by some self-reported assessments on psychological resilience, self-control and emotional regulation.
- Blood samples were taken to examine epigenetic information.
Observations And Generalizations Thereafter
The study revealed the fact that increased cumulative stress was a major player in the game of biological aging when compared to chronological aging by GrimAge and increased biological markers like insulin resistance. On the other hand, emotional regulation can potentially decrease the effect of stress on accelerated aging. Self-control was something that could balance the relationship between stress and insulin resistance.
Certain characteristics like racism, ‘identifying as blacks ‘ and sex, ‘being of male sex’ added to aging too. The study was successful in bringing out the potential targets for behavioral interventions to slow down the process.
Professor Derek Griffith, professor at Health System Administration and Oncology at Georgetown expressed his views as there is an urgency to consider the social-environmental resources and stressors affecting emotional regulation, cumulative stress and epigenetic aging as these factors seem to vary by race, sex, and gender.