Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Race and aging

Article: Does your race determine your biological age? Controversial research claims black people age more quickly - and are up to THREE YEARS older in health terms

Authors: Morgan Levine and Eileen Crimmins of the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Gerontology. wrote in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

Yet another data point in the discussion about race.

How they did it:
The current study uses data on 7,644 black and white participants, ages 30 and above, from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers calculated each participant’s 'biological age' by looking at 10 biomarkers that have been linked to aging, including C-reactive protein, serum creatinine, glycosylated hemoglobin, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol.

The team compared then compared biological ages of blacks and whites as indicated from the biomarkers.

Black people age more quickly than white people, a controversial new study has claimed.

Researchers say that the researcher could shed new light on higher mortality rates in black people.

They say the biological age differences by race increase up until ages 60-69, and then decline.

Differences in biological age between blacks and whites appear to increase up until ages 60-65 and then decline, presumably due to mortality selection.

The team say the cause could be stress-related.

'Everyday stressors associated with being black may negatively impact physiological functioning and, under chronic exposure, accumulate over the lifespan and contribute to growing disparities in biological risk,' the authors wrote.

'Furthermore, if such environmental, behavioral, and mental factors contribute to an acceleration of the aging process, we would expect that persons who are aging the fastest should have the highest risk of mortality, and thus (have a) lower life expectancy.'
The hypothesis, that the aging may be stress related, can be tested by looking at the levels of those hormones that are related to stress in the same population.

Another hypothesis is obvious even if the authors/reporters will not touch it with a ten-foot pole. Race differences are hard-wired genetic differences. We already know that there are genetic components to aging. The difference in rate of aging may be due to genetic differences between blacks and whites.

This article links to the actual research paper.

I have posted a second discussion of this at the "Rooted in Him" blog: Should race matter to a Christian?

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