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Aging in Youth

July 10, 2015

Researchers look for harbingers of old age in thirty-somethings.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Crysco Photography CC BY-NC-ND-2.0 via flickr

What age are you biologically? (Crysco Photography/CC BY-NC-ND-2.0, via flickr)

Signs of aging in young people. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Anyone who goes to their twentieth high school reunion will notice that some classmates look almost the same as they did at graduation, while others look more like their parents. Is this just a matter of style and attitude? Or do some people actually age more quickly than others? In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Duke University epidemiologist Dan Belsky and his colleagues report that an analysis of 38-year-olds born in the same town revealed that some were biologically still in their twenties, while others were over sixty.

DAN BELSKY (Duke University Medical School, Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development):

We were very surprised at the extent of the variation that we saw.

HIRSHON:

But that doesn’t mean some people are condemned to early disability.

BELSKY:

The fact that we can identify some accelerated aging already at this point suggests we might be able to intervene with these individuals to slow that aging process down and put off the onset of those disabling conditions.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.