Cigarettes are a well known “fast-track” to wrinkles, gray hair and other visible signs of aging but new evidence suggests that obesity might accelerate aging even more. British researchers looked at blood samples of over 1,100 women (ages 18 to 76) and found that obese subjects were the equivalent of nine years older than their leaner peers, vs. a 7.4 age increase for long-term smokers when compared to never-smokers. Measurements were based on the relative length of a DNA component (telomere) used as an aging biomarker.
“We’ve known obesity increases your risk of many diseases and of dying early. What’s novel here is that it seems that fat itself actually accelerates the aging process,” said Dr. Tim Spector of St. Thomas Hospital in London.
The researchers speculate that this phenomenon may explain why obese people are more susceptible to many age-related diseases such as heart disease, osteoarthritis and diabetes. There is hope, however, because as discussed in the last DNN, six weeks is all it takes to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease after making basic diet and exercise changes.
Bottom Line: To prevent age-acceleration, don’t put cigarettes or fattening, empty-calorie foods in your mouth!
Bonus: Avid DNN readers know that chronic stress may age you in a similar manner.
Published December 12, 2005