Scientists in the US have found that some people are more likely to enter the ageing process sooner than expected and are more likely to die early, regardless of their lifestyle habits. The findings could explain the seemingly random and unfair way that death is sometimes dealt out, and raise the intriguing future possibility of being able to extend the natural human lifespan.
The study found that a higher biological age - regardless of an individual’s actual age - was linked to dying early. Those who aged the fastest have a 50 per cent greater chance of early death.
The finding could explain why some people die unexpectedly despite living healthier lifestyles. In addition to this, there are other factors to consider, such as genetics and an individual’s environment, which could explain why some people are more likely to suffer from certain diseases in comparison to others.
Steve Horvath, a biostatistician who led the research at the University of California, Los Angeles, said: “You get people who are vegan, sleep ten hours a day, have a low-stress job, and still end up dying young. We’ve shown some people have a faster innate ageing rate.”
However, despite this, the study found that the biological changes and the process of ageing faster could be reversed, which in turn could slow down the possibility of early death. The study also raises the possibility of scientific research that specifically focuses on extending the natural human lifespan.
Referring to the results of the study, Mr Horvath went on to say: “The great hope is that we find anti-ageing interventions that would slow your innate ageing rate. This [study] is an important milestone to realising this dream.”
Currently, the average life expectancy in the UK is at 81.5 years - 79.1 years for males and 82.8 years for females. This is a common trend in the most economically developed countries of the world, and this is down to various factors such as better standards of healthcare and sanitation, higher living conditions and levels of education and literacy in comparison with less economically developed countries.
Regardless of the findings from the study, it is still important to live a healthy lifestyle as this reduces the risk of suffering from serious illness in old age that could impact on the quality of life. Conditions like coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers can seriously alter a person's quality of life.
In order to live a healthy lifestyle it is essential to eat healthy and nutritious meals three times a day and engage in activities - 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week - in order to maintain your physical and mental wellbeing.
Ultimately, living well is the key to a lengthy and fulfilling life, regardless of the ‘internal clock’ and additional factors.