Are men biologically ageing sooner?

Chennai: How dangerous is being an overweight stressed-out male? Looks like, this lethal combination is one of the key factors in biological ageing.

According to a recent study, while chronological age is measured by date of birth, scientists have developed a range of measurements to determine our biological age. These include measuring the length of telomeres (little caps on the end of our chromosomes that shorten as we grow older), chemical changes to our DNA (epigenetics), and changes to the proteins and metabolites in our bodies (proteomic and metabolomic measures).

Although studies have linked these individual measurements to physical and mental health, it is not known whether they influence each other—a or whether they have a cumulative effect on our overall well being as we age.

The team used blood samples from nearly 3,000 people taking part in the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety. They applied computer modelling to create individual biological ageing indicators based on five commonly used measurements: telomere length, epigenetics, gene levels, metabolites and proteomics. The five indicators were then linked back to different factors such as sex, lifestyle factors and known physical and mental disorders such as depression.

Of the five biological ageing indicators, only three were found to significantly interact in individuals, such that an increase in one indicator also paralleled an increase in the other. There were many overlapping and distinct links between particular ageing indicators and specific lifestyle factors or diseases. But being male, having a high body mass index (BMI), smoking and having metabolic syndrome were most consistently linked with more advanced biological ageing.

The team also confirmed that depression was linked to more advanced ageing measured by epigenetics, gene levels and proteomics. This suggests that biological ageing is linked to both mental and physical health.