Chapel Hill Healthcare Report: Blood Test Reveals How Well You Are Aging

February 23, 2017 | By Lorenzo Mejia

Healthcare is important as we grow older, but doctors are just starting to discover how our bodies react to the aging process. Everyone ages differently according to genetics, lifestyle, income and many other factors. How well you age can be found in chemicals in your blood called biomarkers. These biomarkers can signal someones risk for developing age-related health conditions that may affect you as you grow older. New biomarker testing can reveal changes in cognitive and physical function as well as surviving age related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. These tests can predict a wide range of diseases long before any clinical signs become apparent to the person.

Researchers measured 19 biomarkers in blood samples of over 4,700 people ranging in age from 30-110. Some of the biomarkers measured functions in the body such as those in the immune system, the endocrine system, the kidneys and metabolism. Many of these markers vary with age. They narrowed down two different signatures, 1 and 2. Signature one people were found to line up with most people’s age and sex. Signature 2 was considered healthy aging and was found in a quarter of the participants. This signature was found to have a lower risk of death due to better cognitive function and lower risk of diabetes. The scientists found eight other signatures that were associated with higher levels of other diseases and there were 16 other signatures that were not associated with the risk of disease. The researchers hope to use these results in further drug studies to to detect the effects of absence of drugs in trials much earlier than current drug trials.

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