Researchers Find 4 "Ageotypes" To Predict How You'll Age
Ever wonder why certain celebrities (we're looking at you, Jennifer Lopez) seem to look better with age? Scientists from Stanford University School of Medicine discovered four "ageotypes" that might explain why.
The study, published in Nature Medicine, analyzed 43 healthy participants over the course of two years. Based on the participants' molecular changes, researchers came up with four categories to predict how they'll age. Think of them like personality types but biological.
What are the four types, and what do they mean?
Everyone is affected by aging, but until now, there has been little research on where we first show signs of aging. The ageotypes help identify within the body where aging is most active. The four main types are metabolic, immune, hepatic (liver), and nephrotic (kidney).
The research on ageotypes is still new, so tests for your ageotype do not exist. In the study, researchers took blood and stool samples at least five times over the course of two years and analyzed molecular changes over time. While replicating those studies at home is not possible, regular health tests might point toward your type.
If you're at risk of kidney or liver disease, you might be hepatic or nephrotic. If you have a history of high blood sugar or diabetes, you could be a metabolic ager.
"People with an immune ageotype, on the other hand, might generate higher levels of inflammatory markers or be more prone to immune-related diseases as they age," said study author Michael Snyder, Ph.D.
This is where ageotypes differ from personality tests: One person is not limited to one ageotype. In fact, some people might have all four. More importantly, your ageotype is not forever. The study shows intervening early enough can reduce negative health risks and diseases.
"The ageotype is more than a label," Snyder said. "It can help individuals zero in on health-risk factors and find the areas in which they're most likely to encounter problems down the line."
Why does this matter?
Better understanding how a person ages can lead to targeted intervention strategies that might reverse or slow the effects of aging, naturally.
"Not everyone in the study showed an increase in ageotype markers over time," Snyder said. "In some people, their markers decreased—at least for a short period—when they changed their behavior."