Does Age Really Matter? New Science Says Maybe Not

mbg Contributor By Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor
Caroline Muggia is a writer, environmental advocate, and registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) with a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College.
Does Age Really Matter? New Science Says Maybe Not

Photo by @AleksandarNakic / iStock

Many of us get stressed as we age, wondering what each year could mean for our health. Well, it turns out our chronological age, the age on the calendar, may not be so telling of how healthy we are. According to new research, our biological age, the age of our bodies, says more about our health and life span.

Our risk factors for disease and cancer could be drastically different from those of someone else who is the same age. "We all age biologically at different rates according to our genes, what we eat, how much we exercise, and what environmental toxins we are exposed to. Biological age is what determines our health and ultimately our life span," said David Sinclair, co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School, in a statement.

You may be wondering how you can figure out your biological age. Leave it up to Yale Medical School researcher and professor Morgan Levine. In her lab, she inputs biomarkers from regular blood samples we get at the doctor, like blood sugar, kidney and liver measures, and inflammatory markers, into algorithms that can tell us what scientists call our phenotypic or biological age.

Those who have a lower biological age than their chronological age have a lower risk of disease and death, whereas those whose biological age is older than their chronological age have a larger risk.

The good news, and perhaps the most important, is if your biological age is not where you want it to be, there are steps you can take to lower it.

Unfortunately, Levine's algorithm is not open to the public yet (or else we'd already be there!), but she is working with a group to make the algorithm available online, so we can find out our body's age and make a plan to change problematic markers.

In the meantime, getting more sleep, eating healthier foods, and exercising are great protective factors for age-related risks.

The hope is that with access to this information earlier on, we may be able to prevent disease, cancer, and premature death down the line—here's to growing another year younger!

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