Aging is a normal process that takes its toll on the body and leads to damage, breakdown of physiological integrity, and increased mortality risk. The Mayo Clinic reports that aging can affect your cardiovascular health, bones, digestive system, bladder and urinary tract, memory, sexuality, and more.
Have you ever wondered why some people age more gracefully than others? Scientists have figured out that people age in four different ways. Aging can be a complicated process that takes its toll on different parts of the body at different rates. Doctors may be able to use this information to their advantage to recommend specific treatments or lifestyle changes that can help with the aging process.
Study on aging types
The new study was published in Nature Medicine. Scientists tracked people through time from the ages of 34 to 68 to study personal aging markers and types of molecular pathways that changed over time.
The four “ageotypes” that the scientists discovered were:
- Immune – relating to immune response; showing more inflammation over time.
- Nephrotic – relating to kidney function.
- Hepatic – relating to liver function.
- Metabolic – relating to the buildup and breakdown of substances in the body; marked by higher blood sugar over time and higher risk for diabetes.
Though these are the four main “ageotypes”, there are several different variations and types, another main aspect being cardiovascular aging. The study showed that with certain lifestyle changes, participants were able to slow down the aging process. Depending on a person’s individual chemistry, they may fit into one or more of these categories.
The authors of the study plan to create a simple ageotype test that doctors can use to evaluate health and make plans for treatment.
“In the near future, perhaps ageotypes could serve to motivate people to take better care of areas of their body that appear to be aging faster than others,” said study author Michael Snyder of the Stanford University School of Medicine. “For instance, if someone fits the profile of a cardiovascular ager, they might focus on improving their cardiovascular health and undergoing relevant medical tests to check on their progress.”
“The ageotype is more than a label; it can help individuals zero in on health-risk factors and find the areas in which they’re most likely to encounter problems down the line. Most importantly, our study shows that it’s possible to change the way you age for the better,” said Professor Snyder.