Biological age can fluctuate depending on stress levels

by ian

Ian Patrick, FISM News

Here’s hoping the stress of journalism will make me look distinguished!

According to a study published in Cell Metabolism, a person’s biological age is directly impacted by the amount of stress he or she is experiencing.

It is important to note that biological age is different from chronological age. According to Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, an expert in epigenetics and aging, “Biological age is the rate at which you’re aging physically, whereas your chronological age is simply the amount of birthdays you’ve celebrated.”

The study in Cell Metabolism takes this idea a step further. In fact, the researchers suggest that their findings support the idea of “age reversal.”

According to the abstract written about the study:

Here, we report that biological age is fluid and exhibits rapid changes in both directions. … biological age undergoes a rapid increase in response to diverse forms of stress, which is reversed following recovery from stress.

The findings were achieved by observing various stressful events tested on mice and humans. For instance, the data showed “transient changes in biological age during major surgery, pregnancy, and severe COVID-19 in humans and/or mice.”

Co-senior study author Vadim Gladyshev of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School said their “findings imply that severe stress increases mortality, at least in part, by increasing biological age.”

“This notion immediately suggests that mortality may be decreased by reducing biological age and that the ability to recover from stress may be an important determinant of successful aging and longevity,” Gladyshev continued.

“Finally, biological age may be a useful parameter in assessing physiological stress and its relief.”

Ways to decrease biological age are typically associated with healthy habits like staying properly hydrated, getting an appropriate amount of exercise every day, and sleeping for at least 7 hours.

Co-senior study author James White of Duke University School of Medicine said that their study “uncovers a new layer of aging dynamics that should be considered in future studies.”

“A key area for further investigation is understanding how transient elevations in biological age or successful recovery from such increases may contribute to accelerated aging over the life course,” White added.