When does aging begin

Biological ageOf now at it’s going downhill

Hair loss, palpitations, blood pressure, wrinkles. At a certain age you can tell that people are old. Some even look older than they are. Some even younger. It depends on the genes. But also from your own behavior.

In the Australian city of Dunedin, researchers have done more than a thousand people questioned over and over again and their biological age examined. It was about the function of the internal organs, the metabolism and the immune system. The level of cholesterol and the condition of teeth and blood vessels are also checked. And above all the length of the telomeres, i.e. the ends of the chromosomes. Because they shorten with age.

Biologically speaking, twenty years older

When all subjects were 38 years old, the researchers around study director Daniel Belsky from Duke University found that the actual age of most participants more or less corresponded to the biological age. However: "There were some 38-year-olds who were ten years younger in terms of biological age. And some test persons looked like 60-year-olds purely from the data set," explains Tina Kießling from the DRadio-Wissen newsroom.

"Test subjects who had a high biological age also looked old in terms of cognitive abilities. That is, when it comes to thinking, learning or remembering."
Tina Kießling, DRadio-Wissen-Newsroom

Daniel Belsky hopes that the investigation will help to better understand the aging process. Because the demographic change and the diseases that go with it have so far mostly been studied in old people. "It would be much better if you could start earlier and not let it get that far in the first place," says Tina Kießling.

But there is also good news: According to Daniel Belsky, only around 20 percent of biological age can be explained by genes. The rest of the aging process comes from environmental factors - and they have to do with the way you lead your life.

In addition: There is no point in time when old age really starts in the body. The organs age differently, but mostly they show the first signs of wear and tear between the ages of 30 and 40.