An individual's chronological age does not necessarily define his overall health and risk for developing diseases associated with age. As people age differently from one another, it is also impossible to completely compare one individual's rate of aging to another just because they are of the same age.
A recent study not just supports this idea of seeing the process of aging individually. Researchers have also devised a way, through a blood test, to see how well an individual is aging and essentially "predict" possible future diseases.
More than 4,700 individuals between the ages of 30 and 110 participated in the study that spanned eight years. In that time, researchers took a molecular approach to aging by means of looking at the biomarkers of aging that a blood test can provide. Through these tests, researchers were able to look deeper into the biomarkers that are correlated to aging, and those that are related to the possibility of contracting age-related diseases such as dementia, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Biomarkers Of Aging
Researchers of the study proposed the analysis of 26 signatures of aging from 19 biomarkers that they selected based on their relation to the process of aging. They were analyzed for the quantitative changes that occurred with age such as hormonal, hematological, renal, and metabolic changes.
By looking at the 26 signatures of these biomarkers, researchers were able to identify 10 signatures that showed different risks for morbidity and mortality in individuals, suggesting individual differences in the biological aging process.
Departing From 'Average Aging'
There is already wide literature looking at individual biomarkers to signify risk factors for individual diseases, such as dementia and cardiovascular diseases. But the idea behind the current study is that, by looking at a multitude of biomarkers at once, researchers may see which individuals are at risk for age-related diseases even before any symptoms show. The hypothesis is that the patterns that depart from the lines of "average aging" represent the differences in biological aging.
The results of their research lie in contrast with the view that the biomarkers of a healthy, older individual should be the same as the biomarkers of a younger, healthy individual, because aging comes with various biological changes.
Researchers also note that, while these biomarkers showed changes and patterns that predict the vulnerability of certain individuals toward age-related diseases, some also showed more positive results such as lower morbidity and mortality risks and better physical and cognitive functions.