The four factors that change your biological age

Our actual age is one thing—but our biological age could be more significant, and that is determined by factors such as being overweight, smoking and having chronic depression.

It’s bad news for men: our gender also helps determine our biological age, say researchers from the Amsterdam UMC, and being male is another factor that makes us age faster.

Our biological age can be measured by the length of our telomeres, the caps on the end of chromosomes that shorten as we age, by chemical changes to our DNA, or epigenetics, and changes to proteins to metabolites.

Although scientists don’t know if these factors work synergistically, they have uncovered four major things that influence our biological age.

The researchers analysed blood samples from 3,000 volunteers to work out their biological age, and matched that against a profile of their lifestyles and diets. Although there were many elements to the profile, the four that seemed to be the most significant were our gender, having a high body mass index (BMI), smoking and having metabolic syndrome, often a precursor of type 2 diabetes. People who suffered from chronic depression also tended to have an older biological age.

Although each is a factor on its own, those with the oldest biological age tended to have all four characteristics, the researchers found.

(Source: eLife, 2021; 10; doi: 10.7554/eLife.59479)