- Can a blood test reveal your biological age? The answer may be yes.
- Anti-aging tests look at your general health and determine what lifestyle changes you need to make for better health.
- Doctors are interested in reliable biomarkers to read biological age.
- With a reliable anti-aging test, they may even be able to slow biological aging.
Can a blood test reveal your biological age? Yes, doctors can now reveal our biological age through a blood test. As we age, we gradually lose muscle mass, energy, and, in some cases, sexual function. Biological aging is the true measure of the physical and biochemical condition of our bodies and may be more relevant than the number of years we’ve lived.
What is a Blood Test for Biological Age?
Beyond the visible signs of aging, the process of getting older entails many biological changes. Scientists have been looking for reliable ways to detect biological aging through simple and repeatable means, such as a blood test.
We don’t all age at the same rate. Aging is a process that runs its course depending on how we live our lives. A 40-year-old can be biologically younger than a 35-year-old or even a 30-year-old. Some say that there are optimal ways of running the aging software; fail to do that, and you expose yourself to premature aging.
Indicators of premature aging can let doctors know how likely we are to suffer from age-related illnesses in the future. A blood test for biological age can give you a timely warning. As a result, you can change your lifestyle to counter your increased risk of diabetes, cancer, heart attack, etc.
When you do a blood test for biological age, doctors look at several biomarkers.
- Hormonal biomarkers. Your total and free testosterone level and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) drop many clues about your health and biological age. Low testosterone levels explain why you may be having trouble getting an erection lately. A high TSH level may cause fatigue, cold intolerance, depression, and other symptoms.
- Insulin-related biomarkers. Markers like insulin, glucose, and ferritin levels let you know how your body handles sugar and sweets. If these markers are off, you are at an increased risk of obesity and diabetes.
- Cardiovascular biomarkers. You probably know that if your bad cholesterol is high, you are more likely to develop heart problems. Some biomarkers, like homocysteine and apolipoprotein B, determine your risk of blood clots.
- Vitamin levels. Vitamins fuel your immune system and give you energy. Vitamin deficiencies drain your energy and invite sickness. By disrupting essential biochemical processes, they facilitate age-related chronic conditions.
- General health biomarkers. We have been using biomarkers like lipid levels and blood cell count for some time now. When doctors find out that your cholesterol level is high, they recommend lifestyle changes to counter the problem. By reestablishing healthy cholesterol levels, you can avoid heart problems as you age.
While anti-aging tests can provide clues about your biological age, doctors need more accurate readings. Markers like these may tell them what you need to do to slow down and possibly reverse biological aging.
The Advanced Science of Aging Biomarkers
Scientists have found scores of specific age-related biomarkers. Some of these markers stand out by how well they correlate with age. They include:
The P16 Protein
In a 2009 study, researchers of the University of North Carolina found that P16, a protein identified years ago as a cancer-preventing compound, rises with age. The more you have in your blood, the older your biological age. Factors like smoking and lack of exercise make your P16 levels rise faster.
The theory is that the carcinogens in cigarette smoke make P16 levels skyrocket. To lower your P16 levels and slow your biological aging, stop smoking and exercise regularly.
A 2013 study found that C-glycosyl tryptophan, an amino acid, was present in larger quantities in the blood of older people.
Those with various health problems, such as lung disease and low bone mass, also had higher concentrations of the compound in their blood.
Doctors concluded that they could use C-glycosyl tryptophan to predict disease. The study failed to clarify the link between the compound and aging, however. High C-glycosyl tryptophan levels can be a cause or a consequence of aging and disease.
Telomeres are DNA bits that protect chromosomes. Every time a cell reproduces by copying itself, the telomeres lose length. Eventually, they become so short that they cannot fulfill their role. Telomere length is a clear indicator of age.
Telomeres tend to shorten faster in those who smoke, avoid exercise, eat fatty foods, etc. You can slow the rate of your telomere shortening by adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Why Biological Aging Matters
We currently use anti-aging tests to determine our risk of disease and what lifestyle changes we need to make to live longer and healthier lives. Those of us with waning sex lives may embark on anti-aging testosterone treatments as a result.
There is potentially more at stake, however.
Knowing that some people age slower than others led researchers to conclude that they may be able to slow down aging if they can find out why and how these people age as slowly as they do.
Scientists have successfully extended the lifespan of mice by giving them various drugs. These experiments wouldn’t work on humans, however. One problem is that it would take generations to draw a conclusion, and there are many other hurdles to experimenting on humans.
The answer would be a reliable aging test. Armed with such a test, scientists could tell within a year or two whether they have successfully slowed down aging in humans.
Can We Reverse Biological Aging?
In a small trial, a team of researchers managed to rejuvenate the immune systems of nine men aged 51-65. The doctors gave the test subjects a drug cocktail that included growth hormone and two diabetes drugs. The results were encouraging.
Extending biological rejuvenation to other bodily functions may someday render reproductive problems like erectile dysfunction extinct. Until then, however, those unable to perform sexually can rely on proven solutions like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra.
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James spent the better part of the last decade studying and writing about the physiology of sleep and its correlations with dreams. He studied various drugs, natural substances, and hallucinogens that can impact the intensity and frequency of dreams.
For two years, he busted dietary supplement scams, analyzing various performance-enhancing compounds, nootropics, etc.