Previous studies have shown that poor and uneducated people die much earlier and are more susceptible to diseases than rich people. Those who reside in the most affluent areas even live eight years longer than those who reside in the poorest regions. However, little was known as to how the connection came to be.
Now, a noteworthy finding comes after researchers at the University College London examined a cohort of British men and women, all of whom have been under monitoring since 1946.
The reason behind the health disparity between people who are underprivileged and people who are well-off is that the former's hormones are imbalanced as compared to the latter.
Anything Too Little Or Too Much Is Bad
For poor people, the hormones required for healthy aging becomes imbalanced by the time they turned 60 to 64 years old, experts said.
Of the 1,880 records of British individuals, men with a household income of less than £6,000 (equivalent to $8,900) annually had 10 percent less testosterone than men who earned £30,000 ($44,700) annually. Low levels of testosterone are associated with loss of muscle, weight gain, depression and osteoporosis.
On the contrary, women whose parents were unskilled workers had 15 percent higher levels of testosterone than women whose parents were professionals. Too much testosterone levels in women indicated early puberty, polycystic ovaries and infertility.
In both sexes, those who were uneducated displayed low levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF). This has been linked to poor cognitive function and higher risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease-related death. Women with no educational qualifications had 16 percent fewer IGF than women with degrees. For men with no educational qualifications, the disparity was eight percent less IGF.
In both men and women with lowest education, researchers also detected low levels of cortisol. This can result to depression, heart palpitations, insomnia and pain.
How Societal And Economic Factors Affect One's Health
A person's societal and economic conditions can greatly affect his/her hormonal levels. Professor Diana Kuh of the Medical Research Council's Unit for Lifelong Health and Aeging at UCL said that substantial health inequalities exist in the United Kingdom and that those who are underprivileged have the worse health.
"Hormones may be affected by exposure across life to stress and adverse events, health problems and obesity, and unhealthy lifestyles such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and smoking," said Kuh.
Being poor is linked to elevated risks of respiratory, psychiatric, rheumatic, and cardiovascular diseases, infant mortality and low birth weight.
The stress of having a less secure future, being bossed around, less access to social support networks, and having lower self-esteem may also increase psychological harm in those who are poor.
The UCL study is issued in the journal Social Science & Medicine.
Factors That Accelerate The Aging Process
According to the American Fitness Professionals and Associates, certain factors help speed up a person's aging process. These are the things you should and should not do:
Whether you are rich or poor, your mindset can help accelerate the aging process faster. People who are happier tend to look younger-looking, experts said. These people also tend to live longer with fewer health problems. In contrast, constant anger and distress can permanently form fine lines and deep wrinkles on the face. The constant scowling caused by perpetual anger and sadness can turn into wrinkles because of muscle memory. Solution: Turn that frown upside down!
Drinking and smoking in excess are both unhealthy habits. These two vices can result to all kinds of problems, and reduce our bodies of vital nutrients. Our skin needs the proper amount of collagen, hydration, oxygen and elastin, but people who smoke and drink excessively are depleted of these supplements. Alcohol abuse damages the liver and kidneys, and leads to the discoloration of skin over time, poor muscle tone and broken blood vessels. Solution: Drink moderately. Quit smoking.
Foods such as white flour, dairy products and refined sugar cause inflammation. These foods tend to make a person feel heavier and bloated. It's because these cause inflammation of the internal organs, thus speeding up the process of aging. Solution: Replace your diet with healthier alternatives.
Your weight or body mass index can contribute to accelerating the aging process. For people who are underweight, the natural fats in their facial structure are reduced, adding the appearance of wrinkles. For people who are overweight, inactivity leads to chronic health problems. Solution: Eating healthy and exercising regularly can sure do wonders.
Photo: Cristian Iohan Ştefănescu | Flickr