This Week in Health: Why are some people aging faster than others?
Location of study: New Zealand
Study subjects: Nearly 1,000 people born between 1972 and 1973
Results: Ever look at someone who’s aging particularly well and wonder what their secret is? Researchers found that many of these study participants varied wildly when it came to biological age. While some participants were aging at a slower-than-average rate, others were aging much more rapidly. For example, when researchers checked in on the subjects at 38 years old, their biological ages ranged from under 30 to almost 60 years old. What’s more is that when college students were shown photos of the participants and asked to guess their age, the people who were older on the inside were also perceived to be older on the outside.
Significance: The fast-aging participants, some of whom were aging as much as two to three years for every one chronological year, also demonstrated a harder time performing physical tasks when compared to their slower-aging counterparts. For instance, these folks struggled more with motor tasks like walking up stairs. Researchers say that disease risk in general increases as we grow older. Targeting aging itself might be the best prevention there is.
Location of study: London
Results: Smoking causes too many health problems to count, but could schizophrenia be among them? New research out of King’s College London suggests that there may be a very real link between smoking cigarettes and developing psychosis. A recent large-scale analysis found that people suffering from psychosis are three times more likely to also be smokers.
Significance: “While it is always hard to determine the direction of causality, our findings indicate that smoking should be taken seriously as a possible risk factor for developing psychosis, and not dismissed simply as a consequence of the illness,” Dr. James MacCabe said in a press release.The connection between smoking and schizophrenia isn’t a new one. However, researchers say their study is unique in that it focuses on a possible causal relationship between smoking tobacco and psychosis risk. (Prior research has suggested that people with psychosis may be more likely to smoke in order to self-medicate.)
Location of study: U.S.
Results:Recent tests carried out by the Environmental Working Group have found four different brands of crayons to be contaminated with asbestos. Children’s crime scene fingerprint kits also contained traces of the carcinogenic mineral. The items were purchased through retailers like Party City, Amazon, Dollar Tree and ToysRUs.com. All of them, according to the EWG, were manufactured in China and imported into the U.S. What’s more is that the contaminated crayon boxes featured popular characters like Mickey Mouse, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and more.
Significance: “Asbestos is an extremely dangerous material and, most importantly, is a proven, very potent cause of human cancer,” says asbestos expert and pediatrician Dr. Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. According to Landrigan, 99 percent of the cancers caused by asbestos are brought on by inhalation. Exposures that occur early in life are especially dangerous because of the fact that these cancers have an incubation period that can be as long as 40 to 50 years.
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