DNA Changes Can Accelerate The Body's Aging Process

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DNA strand
  • Somatic mutations are DNA changes that occur throughout someone's life, which can affect someone's risk of developing heart conditions and cancer.

  • These DNA changes can also accelerate someone's biological age, which leads to a faster appearance of aging.

  • This study found that people with somatic mutations had a biological age of about 4 years older than those without.

This article was first published in The University of Edinburgh News.

DNA changes throughout a person’s life can significantly increase their susceptibility to heart conditions and other age-related diseases, research suggests.

Such alterations – known as somatic mutations – can impact the way blood stem cells work and are associated with blood cancers and other conditions.

A study says that these somatic mutations and the associated diseases they cause may accelerate a person’s biological age – how old their body appears – faster than their chronological age – the number of years they have been alive.

A study by scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow examined these changes and their potential effects in more than 1000 older people from the Lothian Birth Cohorts (LBCs), born in 1921 and 1936.

The LBCs are a group of people – now in their 80s and 90s – who sat intelligence tests as 11-year olds. They are some of the most-intensively studied research participants in the world. The LBCs are funded by Age UK (Disconnected Mind Project).

Scientists studied people where the biological and chronological age was separated by a large gap.

They found the participants with somatic mutations – around six per cent – had a biological age almost four years older than those with no alterations.

Experts say they will now explore the link between these DNA changes and biological ageing acceleration.

The study was originally published in Current Biology in Aug 2019.

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