Scientists have been able to measure biological age using chemical changes in DNA. These chemical changes occur naturally as people age however, they occur at different times in different individuals. These “epigenetic clocks” are also known as “epigenetic clocks” have been proven to be more reliable predictors of longevity and health than the chronological age.
Yale researchers have utilized the “GrimAge” biological clock to answer two questions. Is there an option to slow down the clock and prolong a healthy life expectancy?
According to their findings, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry Stress is indeed a factor in making the clock tick faster -; but , people can manage the effects by strengthening their emotion regulation and self-control.
Rajita Sinha, the Foundations Fund Prof of Psychiatry Yale, is a professor of neuroscience as well as a professor at Yale Child Study Center. She is one of the authors of this study. Sinha has spent her entire career studying stress and how it can harm our mental and physical health.
Prolonged stress, for instance, increases the risk of heart disease and addiction, as well as mood disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder According to Sinha, who is also director of the Yale Interdisciplinary Stress Center. It can influence metabolism, leading to the development of obesity-related disorders such as diabetes. Stress also saps our ability to control emotions and to think clearly.
A Yale team led by Sinha and Zachary Harvanek, a resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, decided to study whether stress also accelerates aging in a relatively young and healthy population. Ke Xu, a Yale associate professor of psychiatry, and Nia Fogelman (an associate research scientist in psychiatry) were also co-authors.
In their study they enrolled 444 individuals, ages 19 to 50, who donated blood samples to assess the age-related chemical changes captured by GrimAge and other indicators of health. Participants also answered questions designed to determine stress levels and psychological resilience.
After accounting for demographic and behavioral factors like smoking and body mass index, income, and race The researchers found that those who scored the highest on tests that are related to chronic stress showed increased aging markers as well as physiological changes such as increased insulin resistance.
Stress didn’t affect everyone’s health in the same way. Subjects who scored high on two psychological resiliency measures that measure self-control and emotional regulation were more resilient to the effects of stress on the aging process and insulin resistance respectively. “These results support the widely-held notion that stress makes us age more quickly,” Harvanek said, “but they also suggest a feasible approach to minimize these adverse consequences of stress by enhancing emotion regulation and self-control.”
In other words, the more psychologically resilient the subject, the greater chance they would live a longer and healthier life He said.
Sinha said that we all want to feel that we are in control of our destiny. “So it’s an awesome thing to remind people in their minds that we should invest in our mental health.”
Harvanek Z.M., , (2021). Psychological and biological resilience regulates stress epigenetic ageing. Translational Psychiatry. doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01735-7.
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